Return to story


January 11, 2012 12:10 am

FAMILY: Married to Tim Criswell, and we have two daughters, Madison, 15, and Lucy, 3.

EDUCATION: High school and various college photography classes.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP? I always wanted to work with animals, either as a zoologist or a veterinarian.

FIRST JOB: Worked at People's Drug Store in Westwood Shopping Center and then for CVS when they purchased the company.

HOW DID YOU END UP OWNING MAGPIE STUDIOS? I started out doing wedding photography for five years. There was a lot that goes on in that business that I grew tired of, dealing with customers looking for lower quality and prices, the long hours post-processing (toning, cropping, editing). On the side I was photographing animals and decided to move in that direction full time.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU'RE WRESTLING WITH NOW? Getting people on board with the importance of pet photography! We love and treat our pets as if they are members of our families, so shouldn't they be memorialized as such? Sadly our pets are with us for such a short time and in that time they give us absolutely all of themselves. I feel that having a beautiful portrait of them for all the years to come is something that people will never regret doing!

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WOULD CHANGE ABOUT YOUR JOB? I honestly can't think of one thing. I love my clients, I love how being with them makes me feel, I love that am able to do what I love. That may sound cheesy, but it is the absolute truth.

WHO WAS AND IS YOUR HERO? My grandfather, and he still is. He is the reason I became a photographer and I think about him every time I process a photo. He was a professional photographer in the Army, then he went on to be a medical photographer at St. Elizabeth's Hospital and was also a wedding photographer. I feel that he is with me on the shoots and I know that he would be so excited that I followed in his footsteps. Sadly, he passed away before I started doing photography professionally.

WHO WAS YOUR MENTOR AND WHAT WAS THE BEST ADVICE THEY GAVE YOU? I have actually had several mentors, I first started working with two of my best friends and then had a great partner and I now work with another one of my best friends. We all feed off of each other creatively. I think the best advice I've received is to be confident in my own artistic vision and style.

WHAT BUSINESS BOOK DO YOU RECOMMEND THE MOST AND WHY? I kind of jumped into owning a business feet first, so most of my experience comes from trial and error. Not sure if this a good or bad thing, but it has sure made things interesting. I do recommend, especially in a field like photography, being very comfortable with your equipment and editing software. I am always learning and trying to improve.

WHAT IS A WEIRD/FUN FACT ABOUT YOUR PROFESSION? It is not a glamorous job. When I am done with a dog photo shoot, I am a mess. Luckily I am a bit of a tomboy, so this isn't a problem, but I usually come home covered in dirt, grass, and some other pretty gross things. We are talking about animals here. But I am always in a great mood when I'm done, since being with animals is kind of like a type of therapy for me. I find it so gratifying. Some of my other photog friends think I am absolutely crazy.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE THINKING ABOUT STARTING A BUSINESS RIGHT NOW? Choose to do what you absolutely love. I started in the wedding industry, and while photography is my passion, photographing weddings was not. My passion as far as subject matter is concerned is pets. Or animals in general. If you start a business just to make money, but not because you love what you are doing, you will burn out or tire of it. If you absolutely love it, you will put that love into it, and it will show.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LIKELY TO BE DOING WHEN NOT WORKING? I am a mom above all else, so you will probably spot me with my girls. My oldest daughter is a very dedicated equestrian and my 3-year-old daughter keeps me busy just being a 3-year-old. I also love macro photography and have quite the collection of insect photos. I even love the creepy crawly animals. I don't discriminate. Everything from praying mantis to snails to spiders. I love it all.

WHO WOULD YOU RATHER SPEND TIME WITH, WARREN BUFFETT, DORIS BUFFETT OR JIMMY BUFFETT? Without a doubt, Doris Buffett. I actually used to wait on her at the grill where I worked for nine years. She is absolutely amazing. I would love to talk with her about becoming involved in charities and how to make a difference. I have always wanted to give back, especially when it comes to abused and abandoned animals, I realize she works with helping people, but the fundamental basis is selflessness. I feel that she is such a stellar example of what it is to be selfless and giving. She is such a caring, strong, intelligent woman, a wonderful role model for everyone. I can't even imagine what great advice and fabulous stories she would have to tell!

--As told to Craig Schulin

To nominate a business owner for The Deal, email: Provide a description of the business, how long it's operated, its location, contact information, Web site and why the owner should be featured.

The Free Lance-Star's coverage of area businesses in The Deal does not mean that the newspaper is endorsing any particular business.

Copyright 2014 The Free Lance-Star Publishing Company.