As artists, writers, dancers, and musicians we all have someone we aspire to be like-- someone we look toward for inspiration and the push to keep going with our craft. Britt Hueter has been one of my largest sources of inspiration in photography. A friend showed me her work a while back and ever since I haven’t been able to stop inhaling her photographs.
Her pictures have the ability to connect you with a person you have never met. She has the ability to create a tension between people, light, and shadows and her pictures will leave you breathless. With each photo shoot she creates and builds a treasure chest of memories that involves no language or words.
“Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.” -Henri Cartier-Bresson
In photography, moments are fragile, ephemeral, and mystical. You really only have one chance to capture fleeting emotions and expressions. One of my favorite quotes from Henri Cartier-Bresson is, “Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.” Britt, to me, is someone who is mastering the ability to capture transient magic on film.
On a whim and with a little help (push) from my friends, I reached out to her hoping I could maybe interview her for the blog. I could never recreate how excited I was when she said yes! She and I planned a lunch date at The Laundry in Fenton, MI. It is rare and uncommon to meet someone that you felt like you’ve known and someone you could talk to for hours. That is just what we did. Britt and I sat and talked over coffee, a reuben sandwich, and turkey chili for hours in a little back corner of the restaurant.
At first she told me about her background growing up in Chicago, moving to San Francisco, back to Chicago, and now residing in Ann Arbor. During her moves she attended Eastern University and The Art Institute of Chicago. She is the owner of BAM photography (BAM for her initials, but her hopes is one day it will stand for ‘Britt and Marty’). She loves filmography, children’s books, and hopes to one day start a podcast called “This is Why I Press Record.” She is now the mama bear to two children, Samuel and Josephine. When she talks about her children, her face wrinkles and she laughs. Life radiates from her, and you can feel her passion for her life and children.
“It’s hard working and being a mama. But you just gotta do it. There is no balance, there is just doing it.”- Britt Hueter
One of the questions I really wanted to ask her during our interview was, how does she manage working and owning her photography business while being a mama bear to two cubs? She curled up in her seat and she gave herself a small hug at the table. She closed her eyes and said, “I knew you would ask this, and I was wondering how I would answer…” She paused, “It’s hard working and being a mama. But you just gotta do it. There is no balance, there is just doing it.” Our passions will pull us in directions we never could have anticipated. We are so hard on ourselves. We must be brave, take the next step, and trust that we can do 'this'.
But I have faith, as I’ve always had, that if I work hard enough, care enough, and love enough in all areas of my life, I can create and enjoy a full life. - Lynsey Addario
Lynsey Addario is a photojournalist for NatGeo and Times. In her recent memoir, she stated, “Like many women, once I started a family, I had to make tough choices. I struggle to find the imperfect balance between my role as a mother and my role as a photojournalist. But I have faith, as I’ve always had, that if I work hard enough, care enough, and love enough in all areas of my life, I can create and enjoy a full life. Photography has shaped the way I look at the world; it has taught me to cherish the life I return to when I put the camera down. My work makes me better able to love my family and laugh with my friends.” Our work and our art, if we work faithfully, can complement each other in ways we could have never imagined. As women we do not have to choose between motherhood or a career. We can have our passions shamelessly.
Another passion that Britt has found in the last few years is the role of a Doula. “If I could have a baby every year until I am 90, I would be so happy!” she said. She loves the birthing story and wants to empower women during and after the process. She said that her goal is to show up, visit, give information and answer questions to unsure new mothers. Women are often not taught about the powers within their natural bodies. I will never forget how Britt made a circular shape with her fingers, held it up to her eye and said, “Colostrum! Can people even spell that? It’s huge! Just that small amount is all your baby needs!” Women are the life force of their children, and their partners are the backbone that have the ability to encourage mothers to do what is necessary.
This backbone and support is so well illustrated in the way Britt talked about her husband Marty. A paper cut can make her cry, but he can pull her back together. Life can swirl. We can feel the swirl, but when we have someone who can help us wrestle our way to stable ground we call that an 'Eagle Scout'... or the love of your life.
Britt gives a voice to so many women who try and find the “balance” between work, art, life, passion, and their children. You just do it. This doesn’t mean that it will be easy or without miles and corners of difficulty. However, there are ways and tools we can use to survive these difficulties. We went on to also talk about the importance of authenticity, mental health, and braving the future.
“You are not tethered to your past. Your past is not your story,” she said to me. We are human. We are fragile. Our lives are so short. We can not fall into the trap that we are unable to change, that we are stuck in the past, and that we can not move forward. One of the most beautiful things she shared with me is her recognition of not wanting to pass on any sort of limits in relationship to her children from past experiences, and allowing herself to start seeing a therapist. We must take time for ourselves during this short and fleeting life. Whatever that looks like… Maybe it is a book that we read for ourselves, a night out alone, or a morning with a friend.
“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.” - Anne Lamott
We also talked about two inspiring authors that are working to help humans heal, Anne Lamott and Brene Brown. Both women have inspired and encouraged us personally. The world is unknowingly hungry to hear their healing words. Anne Lamott states, “Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.” Britt’s authenticity and ability to create pour out of her. She is choosing to live this life knowing that there is some “invisible essence” and she captures it in her photography. She, like all of us, is imperfect. She is human. We are human. We live in and through moments, moments we will never see or touch again. It is what we do with these fleeting moments that define the story we leave behind after we have died.
In the movie, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” Walter goes on an unbelievable adventure to find the famous photographer Sean O’Connell. Walter must find Sean to retrieve a lost frame of film that was intended to be the “quintessential” cover of Life magazine. When Walter finally finds the famous photographer, he witnesses O’Connell photographing the most difficult animal to find and photograph... a white leopard in the mountains of the Himalayas. Walter witnesses Sean finally find the leopard in his camera’s viewfinder, and instead of taking a picture, Sean sits back, takes in a deep breath and exhales. The moment was too alluring, too magical to take a picture, it just needed to be lived in.
Meeting Britt reminded me of this unwavering magic in the world. She reminded me of these moments that often just need to be lived in. I have always felt since I was a kid that there is this “invisible essence” of life that moves us and inspires us. Meeting her reminded me it is still there… No matter how difficult the dream is, where you have come from, or what it takes to get there. You just do it. Your past doesn’t define you. Your craft is a work in progress, and you must live life whole heartedly, wildly, and passionately. Just like Britt said to me, “Endure until you can’t anymore.”
Written and Pictures by Jenifer Veloso