Frequent PCSing often leaves military spouses no option other than putting careers on hold for the short-term or even long-term. Mil spouse photographer Meredith Ryncarz has developed a way to keep her business going from move to move, with strategies that help her establish new clients/bookings before she has reached the new duty station. With so many mil spouses going through the same career frustrations, Meredith shares these strategies to help other mil spouse creative business owners.
Tell us a little about yourself, your journey as a military spouse, and where you are today.
I grew up around all things military, spent high school in JROTC, and attended a senior military college in Georgia where I met my husband at our school’s Sweetheart Dance. Our first duty station was Fort Riley, and it was a very welcoming experience as a new military spouse.
Can you tell us a little bit about where your art career started and how it evolved into photography?
I have always been involved in the art community. I entered competitions throughout grade school and college. I have always used photography to document my travels as our family moved around a lot (great preparation for being a military spouse). In college I took a photography class as part of my graduation requirements and went on to become a middle school art teacher. I really fell into photography as a business when our entire neighborhood deployed in 2007, and my friends wanted images of their families during R & R. They started paying me for my work and when our son was born, I quit teaching full time to stay home with him. I needed an outlet to continue creating art and opened up my own photography business.
Can you talk about how you developed The Restart Specialist and what it means as another transition in your career?
The Restart Specialist came out of pure frustration at having to move my business. I wasn’t willing to devalue my work because I needed clients in a new area. I also wasn’t willing to go months without work. Over time we developed a process that allows for a creative business owner to leverage the power of SEO, networking, mindset, and sweat equity to get booked before ever being in a new location. For me it not only means that my photography business continues to thrive but it also allows me to share that process with others that are walking through that same frustration and maybe are at the point of wanting to throw in the towel. You don’t have to! I promise!
How has your role as a military spouse impacted your work as a photographer — creatively, logistically, or otherwise?
As a military spouse, my photography is definitely impacted creatively. I joke that the quality of light is different in each region that we move to and so in order to continue to produce the same quality of work, I have to adjust. How I may have dealt with golden hour in Texas was vastly different than how it was in Virginia or Alabama. The humidity, the vegetation, and even the height of the trees affects this.
“I think that being a military spouse has allowed me the blessing of shooting all over and given me the gift of a varied portfolio. ”— Meredith Ryncarz
How do you cultivate your creativity?
I have found there are three ways to cultivate my creativity:
1) I need downtime and rest. I produce the best work when I am not tired, cranky, or burnt out.
2) Beautifully written magazines like Flutter offer inspiration through all the senses. Taking time to read physically printed articles and books sparks ideas.
3) Attending conferences around other photographers who have like minded goals and foster a sense of community inspires me and technically challenges me to try new things.
How do you meet other artists or plug into the local arts scene when you PCS?
The best ways I have found to get connected with other artists in a new location is through The Rising Tide Society and their local chapters of Tuesdays Together. It is free and open to all creatives. Secondly, through PPA and local professional groups like WIPA or ILEA.
What’s next for you?
Not surprising . . we move in 5 weeks. Outside of that, I am in the process of planning a women’s artist retreat in Savannah for the early winter to plan out our businesses for the new year and support each other in our goal planning process.
What is the most practical piece of advice that you would give to other artists?
Find a mentor. Pay for quality education. Free will only get you so far. Learn the business side of the house because it makes your growth as an artist less stressful.
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Meredith Ryncarz Photography
The Restart Specialist