Maven to Know: Faith Blackwell

One of our favorite photgraphers shares her advice for local creatives, how she found her way to the camera, and the Indy spots she can't wait to (re)visit.

Maven to Know: FAITH BLACKWELL, OWNER, FAITH BLACKWELL PHOTOGRAPHY

Faith Blackwell has been beloved at Indy Maven from the start, photographing our events and being one of our biggest cheerleaders. We know you’re going to love getting a little deeper with one of our city’s favorite photographers too, especially once you learn what inspires this woman, who lives on the northwest side with her husband James, and why she loves Indy so much.

You’re such a creative person, have you always been that way? Did you know you wanted to be a photographer growing up or did your path look a bit different? If so, how? 

I’ve always been a creative person but never really owned a “real” camera until I was able to pay for one myself—do disposable cameras count? [Editor’s note: Absolutely!!!] I went to Purdue University, studied Business and Retail Management, and was set on owning my own retail store or shop of some type. Once I graduated and took a job in retail, I was like “Nope, not for me.” We moved to Indy not too long after graduation and I took a job in marketing and that’s where I was for the next 10 years. 

By around year seven of 10 at my marketing job, I picked up a camera and knew that’s where my passion was. I took various continuing education courses and whatever seminar I could get to, and slowly built a clientele. I was facing burnout and knew I didn’t want to go further in the company because I wasn’t passionate about it. So I set the date of my last day, talked to my husband about it, and took the steps I needed to pay off debt. There was no turning back.

What are your favorite things about what you do? And your favorite things/people to shoot?

The best part about being a photographer, for me, is meeting people and learning about who they are and what they do. Photography for me is therapy and in return I get to show people how amazing they look, not only on the inside, but out. 99% of the time my clients do not like taking pictures—but by the end of it, they love how their images turn out. 

Since I consider myself and artist (and am now just getting comfortable with saying it without any doubt), working on passion projects that allow me to be creative and focus on women empowerment is quite fulfilling.

What are your biggest professional challenges and how do you work through them?

One of my biggest professional challenges is not being able to do all the things that I actually want to do and having a team to assist. Over the past few years, I’ve become better at saying “no” and letting that be a complete sentence, especially when it doesn’t serve future goals. 

Where do you find inspiration?

For me inspiration is EVERYWHERE! I can legit look around the corner and be inspired. Interior design, graphic design, fashion, music, street art, architecture, the list is absolutely endless.  

And I’m such an ’80s baby that you will find candy, music, TV, and movie references in my work. If Prince and Willy Wonka collaborated, that would be me. People walk into my space calling it whimsical, fun, and full of joy. It doesn’t hurt that I play a lot of ’80s music, as well, so everyone ends up dancing.

What do you love about being a creative in a city like Indy? Are there downsides? 

The community for creatives in Indy is pretty friendly and everyone is willing to help. My studio is in the Stutz Building and I’m part of the Stutz Artists Association. From day one, I have been able to walk the halls and into other artists’ studios to talk about a project that I’m working on and get advice, guidance, or even nails to hang a piece of work. And vice versa. Anyone can come to me and get a side that they wouldn’t have thought about.

The only downside is that we need more of it. I visit other cities and they have specific arts districts. You see streets filled with graffiti/street art and buildings of collaborative spaces. But we also need the demand to support artists. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into a creative field (at any age)?

I don’t want to sound like a Nike ad, but Just Do It—and do not be afraid to try a bunch of things. There are so many aspects to photography that it took me a few years to find my niche, which is business, commercial, and event work. My business has also expanded and gone in a few directions I never saw coming. I am now in my ninth year, and if you had told me this is where I would end up, I wouldn’t have been able to fathom it. What’s funny is is that I know there are a few more tricks up my sleeve. I’m not done yet.

When you’re not taking photos, how do you like to spend your time?

Volunteering, hanging out with friends, and traveling. One of my favorite nonprofits where I give a lot of my support to is Dress for Success Indianapolis. I have been volunteering for the organization longer than I’ve had my business. If anyone hasn’t heard of them, please look them up. They do so much to empower women in the Indianapolis area not only by providing business attire but the support, training and education that comes along with it.

My husband and I were supposed to go to Paris for our 20th anniversary this year, but that’s not going to happen. I love long weekend get-a-ways to Chicago, Louisville, Nashville, and Cincinnati. I’m looking forward to the next adventure, but not sure where that will be as of yet.

What places around town are you looking forward to visiting once you’re able to again?

SOOOOOO MANY! I believe in shopping local. Where do I begin? Cholita and La Margarita for tacos and margaritas. Bee Coffee Roasters and Provider for my coffee fix. Snacks at Cannon Ball Brewing Company, Just Pop In! and Pots and Pies. Petite Chou and Turchetti’s for brunch (brunch is my favorite). Meetings for Creative Mornings, Linking Indy Women, and Dress for Success Indianapolis. I have more…..seriously, I HAVE MORE!

Abby Gardner, Indy Maven‘s Executive Editor, seconds all of Faith’s suggestions.

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