If you're curious about some of our behind-the-scenes thinking or came to the panel I spoke on for BlogHer15, this is for you. I'll give you context, overview, inside scoop & a solid list of people who inspire us with their craft.
BlogHer 15 Session Overview
Whether you blog, Instagram, or YouTube to share your story, storytelling matters. In a constantly shifting social mediasphere, how do the ways you tell your story and where you share it help shape your narrative? How do you stay motivated to confidently share your story, discover new passions, and continue to build your community? You don’t need to be seeking a massive audience, book deal, or world domination to seek fulfillment and personal impact.
I'm an artist. I don't think of myself as much of a writer. So when we were asked by the folks at BlogHer to participate in their 2015 blogging conference, I wasn't sure why they were reaching out (but I'm sure grateful they did). Turns out they were into visual storytelling, too.
One of the toughest transitions for me as a foster parent has been learning to adjust and accept that lots of my needs and wants have to wait. Like whoa. LOTS. It's part of what you sign up for when you agree to foster. You know this in advance, but the impact of the lifestyle can feel like a real blow. At least for me it did. The shock of pop-up parenting feels more manageable after almost a year. But if I'm not using my mind in a creative way, I get cranky.
Long ago, drawing gave way to multimedia art and mosaic for me (thank you Lisa Frank). Which means I have a studio instead of a sketchpad and it is full. It has become more dumping ground and dog room than creative space, but my computer is there. And sometimes, when I'm not busy beefing up my online portfolio and working on this whole career change thing, I sneak in other ways of being creative. Enter: Instagram and the art of the micro blog.
We had talked as a couple about sharing our thoughts on foster care in a public way at some point in the fall of 2014. Well, mostly I talked. I wanted to do something creative. Needed to do something creative. And we were feeling a little desperate to connect with other families that we identified with. Not only did we need some semblance of community, we wanted to talk openly about our experience with fostercare, both professionally and as foster parents. But we didn't intend to put all our business out there. And we still don't.
After multiple conversations about the people we followed individually on IG, we slowly realized there was an opportunity to find an online community, so we started hashtag surfing together: #twomoms #fostercare #brownbabies #lgbtfamily. And we realized there was an opportunity to connect. And we realized there was an opportunity to contribute to community while connecting. So I got to work.
If you build it they will come. But, not if they don’t know you’re there and they won’t stay if they don’t like you.
I had been taking pictures of the boys for the boys. It felt important to me to document their lives for them because so few kids in foster care have pictures of themselves. Particularly when they are very young and even less so, chronologically. I'm kind of a composition snob, so I have big feelings on whowhatwhenwherehow I shoot and edit. I knew I wanted to tell our story, and to do so, it made sense to me to just capture our ordinary lives. So that's what I did. I knew I didn't want to create extra work for myself (because new career) and I wanted to keep things simple and remarkable. So that's what I try to do. The subtext to all of this, of course, is that I wish to honor our family in ways that feel appropriate and fair. Now and always.
The Inside Scoop + Kickass Talent
My goals then & now:
- Community. See above.
- Therapeutic gain from being creative.
- Take pretty pictures that can stand on their own and speak for themselves.
- Get my wife to share her smarts on complex trauma, healing and foster care.
- I wanted my pictures to feed a blog or website with the option of adding text down the road. I was hoping to come together on a creative mission when the time was right for both of us when we could expand our thoughts on fostercare, same-sex parenting and raising brown and black babies.
My top 5 best practice:
- 2-5 pics a day. Strike a balance between the thoughtful with the lighthearted. Max out on that 2200 character limit or keep it simple. Share to other social media outlets sometimes.
- Hashtag campaigns: yours, mine & ours. Sometimes I jump on the bandwagon and contribute to hashtag conversations, sometimes I create our own for easier searching and sometimes I encourage folks to join us. (#AllofTheSkintones #FostermomsBlog #CarryMrToddler #CarryTinyMan #LoveSeesAllColor)
- Engage authentically. Real talk. Genuine.
- Use great pictures. iPhone 6. Edit with VSCO + photoshop where I want to pop or hide.
- Avoid drama.
Clint Smith iii's Ted Talk for presence, passion and poetry
Jimmy Wayne former foster youth, country music star
GirlsGoneChild for great photos and writing
Really Nailing the IG Microblog + Beautiful Photos
Hilarious & Talented
-Foster Mom (the artist)