We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrea Seider and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrea, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Have you ever watched a tight-rope walker or a gymnast on a balance beam? Their work on that tiny strip of safety depends on the highest level of focus, concentration, agility, and strength. They never relax because achieving balance is constant work. It is the flexing of one muscle versus the opposite muscle, back and forth, on and on, forever. Being balanced is not a permanent state. Rather, it is constantly on the verge of tipping one way or the other. This is how I like to think of balance in life. It’s never a perfect state at which you suddenly arrive. It takes work and strategy and the minute you think you’ve got it down, it tips one way or the other. My work/life balance has changed drastically depending on the seasons of my life. Before pursuing my own creative career, I worked as a teacher. I loved being a teacher, but it was definitely a sacrifice to the time I was able to spend with my young kids. Those who are not in the education world do not realize how much time is spent when you are a teacher. It is certainly not just the hours that school is in session. Now that I can make my own schedule, I still put in a lot of hours but many of them are after my kids go to sleep (or before they get up). So I feel a bit more fulfilled knowing that I’ve been able to spend quality time with my family and still get time to flex my creative muscles. Having said that, this leaves me with little time for “self-care” and that’s a piece of the pie I’d like to work on. As I get older (I’m going to be 39 this year…) I’ve realized how important health and wellness is. I want to be able to keep up with my kids and grandkids. I want to participate in life and not feel tired or worn down. And, I want to be well so that I can continue to be a helpful and productive member of my community. One of the things that has helped me in my efforts to “balance” is schedule blocking. I’m not as good at it as some, but I use it for the most part to make sure I’ve blocked out time for exercise, healthy eating, social activities (which have been more virtual these days) family time and creative work time. If you set a time for it in your day and block out all other activities, you’re more likely to do it. And if you make sure you try for most of those items, then your days feel more balanced and, in turn, you feel happier. Balanced perfection will never be achieved, however, it is the pursuit of something close to this that makes our days more fulfilled.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m still growing and still evolving as an artist and entrepreneur. Like so many others who have taken this path, it’s not easy and requires a lot of vulnerability. In a non-creative job, like the one I had before, you have very clear pathways to very clear positions and corresponding salaries. There are certificates and diplomas and tests that you pass that give you the credentials you need to justify how much you are earning. In a creative solo-endeavor, it’s you who has to decide the value of your work and your time, and that takes a lot of self-reflection. It also involves having to put yourself out there for judgement, because art is very subjective. Maybe someone doesn’t like your particular style. It’s hard not to take it personally because it is your creation, but in the end you have to let it go and just keeping putting out work. One thing that I’ve worked on, and continue to work on, is developing rapport with my clients. I value the connections I make while doing this job and, to me, my favorite part is getting to know people better. There’s something very personal about taking someone’s photo, so it makes sense to try to know that person better.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ooooh! This is a great question. I’m going to answer this assuming my friend visits in a post-covid world. One of our favorite Houston itineraries is eating brunch at the Dunlavy and then strolling or biking through the bayou city trails. After a long ride or hike, hungry for lunch at Frank’s pizza and then heading to Market Square park to hang out, maybe grabbing some drinks at La Carafe (the oldest bar in Houston and also, possibly, haunted) or Warren’s. Taking some downtown mural photographs (of course). Then heading to Xochi for an amazing dinner (bugs and all!) and an evening stroll through Discovery Green. Maybe there is music being played. I can’t wait for our world to return to normal so this can happen!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Gosh, there are lots of people, organizations and books that have helped me and inspired me. One place that I recommend to anyone who is interested in learning more about photography is the Houston Center for Photography. I started taking classes there so many years ago and they have helped me to continue my learning and to provide a place for photographers and other creatives to showcase their work.