Getting To Know: Chelsea of Chelsea Laine Francis Photography

MaggieGentry interviews Chelsea Francis of Chelsea Laine Francis Photography about how she got her start and what keeps her motivated in this fast-paced world.

If you're in the creative community in Austin, then you absolutely know of powerhouse photographer and networking maven Chelsea Laine Francis. I first met Chelsea almost two years ago when she was hosting Coworking events every Tuesday night for women in the creative community, and I was immediately astounded at the caliber of women she was able to attract, and at her dedication to supporting others.

Chelsea has an infectious personality that immediately disarms you and has you spilling your life story to her. It's a remarkable trait as a photographer because this means she can capture your truest essence with one snap of her camera. 

And if being insanely talented isn't enough, she also has a heart of gold where she genuinely wants to see other women succeed. Her drive is an inspiration to me and so many others, and it's an honor to call her a friend. I hope you'll read through, pick up some nuggets of wisdom, and if you're in Austin, sign up below to hear more about her #ATXConnectionMixers so you can meet this wonderful human IRL.


Take us back to the very beginning. What made you first pick up a camera, and how have you built your photography business into what it is today?

I picked up a camera because I desperately wanted to have a ‘thing’ that I was especially good at. My husband, Tucker, has always been really excellent at music, and graphic design and now coffee and coffee education, but I never had that thing. I was always Chelsea, she’s good with people, and she’s funny.

I had ALWAYS been interested in photography. I used to flip through old copies of my father’s National Geographic's (purchased from yard sales, and leftover from a long lost and since cancelled subscription) and I’d dream of what it must be like to have your whole job revolve around taking a picture.

So the decision on what to pick up was pretty simple. The day I unpackaged my first camera, I never looked back.

What aspect of your work is the most life-giving for you?

Definitely getting to meet new people both in Austin and all over the United States. I’m kind of obsessed with the fact that I can work in other cities right now. I just went to New York for some work in November, and I’m hooked.

Was there ever a time when you happily ignored external validation or outside advice about your business so that you could follow the True North that you created for yourself? If so, how did making that choice to follow Your Why impact not only you, but your business?

There’s definitely been quite a few of those. Earlier this year I seriously contemplated starting a creative agency, which is always in the back of my mind. My ‘brain trust’, which is my therapist, a trusted friend who owns a coffee shop, a dear friend out of state, and my business coach, all said go for it. But I didn’t, because I knew for certain that it wasn’t the right time. I have since had a huge breakthrough with the kind of work I really desperately want to be shooting. It was almost like making that decision, along with several other soul-searching deep dives, allowed me to refine my true north. I’m not certain that an agency or creative studio isn’t in my future, but I certainly know it isn’t what’s right for right now.

You have an energy and drive about you that is damn inspiring. How do you stay motivated while trying to accomplish all the things?

Ahhh! Thank you! That’s the sweetest compliment, especially coming from you. There’s not really one answer for this--- but I’m going to go with drinking a lot of water, listening to a lot of podcasts, snacks, going to therapy once every two weeks, and creating mantras like ”I’m the woman who succeeds and thrives through this situation.” Those things really, truly help.

I know we’re both morning people, and I read over on your blog that you were recently considering adjusting your morning routine. Have you stumbled across the perfect routine for you? And through this re-calibration phase, what kept coming back to you as a vital component to your day?

Definitely working out in the morning. It’s when I’m most motivated, and it helps me feel strong throughout the day. I also enjoy not looking at my phone until my feet are on the floor. Those two are super important.

Just a few of the gorgeous images Chelsea has taken.

It goes without saying that you’re an amazing photographer. And, having done a portrait session with you, I can attest to just how magical you are behind that camera of yours! What do you think are the essential ingredients to make for a stunning shoot?

I think starting the shoot off with a mutual understanding of what the common goal is, is super important! I also just try and talk to my client, and help them become disarmed in front of the camera. Generally we aren’t taking super serious photos together, so I also try to have fun. I think FUN is the real essential ingredient.

As if your shoots alone don’t keep you busy enough, you also host monthly networking events for women in the creative community to connect in a meaningful, small group environment. Can you share a little more about your inspiration to start #ATXConnectionMixer? And… can you share any hints of what we might expect in 2018?

The #ATXconnectionmixer started out of necessity, basically. There were so many friends in my life that I wanted to connect to one another, and I didn’t have time to sit them all down at coffee dates and make it happen. I also wanted another non-stuffy networking option to exist. That’s how it all started!

2018 is going to be AWESOME for the mixers. I think there will be less of them because I’m planning on traveling quite a bit in the new year, but there will be six in total next year. And we’re kicking it off with a bang in January, so make sure you’re signed up for the email list!

Who is currently inspiring you?

Oh man. What a question.

I’m in a check-in email situation with Jane Claire Hervey of Bossbabes and Grpwrk, as well as Vanessa Crooks from Realm, and those two ladies leave me jaw-droppingly inspired weekly!

I’m really inspired by Robert Mapplethorpe's work right now, I’ve been studying him since my trip to New York. I’m also obsessed with Louis Bourgeois right now. If you don’t immediately see her work when I mention her name, look her up.

I’m always inspired by my two business besties: Nicole Seligman, of Writes Like a Girl, and Richelle Ouellette, event planning extraordinaire.

My mother is also incredibly inspiring to me. She’s making a lot of moves in her life right now, and I’m so proud of her

We all hit rough patches of low motivation, fighting the comparison trap, and overcoming self-doubt. When you find yourself up against that wall, how do you pull yourself out of it?

I actually have a check list to fight lack of motivation and to recenter me. I put my phone away and check on ‘Do Not Disturb’. I get up from wherever I’m most likely laying or sitting. I go outside. I drink 24 oz. of water. I ask myself when I last ate. If it was more than four hours ago, I eat something. I shower if I haven’t showered. I get dressed. Put on lipstick and mascara. And then I’ll go get a Mexican Coke, and I’ll tell myself over and over something like, “I’m the woman who succeeds and thrives in this situation.” It sounds so silly, but it is like a reset button. And when I’m willing to get up and do these things it really works.

Let’s get dreamy for a minute. If you could take a look at the future, what do you see for not only yourself personally, but also for your photography biz? What do you hope is your legacy?

I would have twenty four total projects in a year. I would live in a house with a pool and swim everyday. I would travel a lot for work and fun. I would be shooting photos of people for national publications, as well as editorials for bold and brilliant fashion brands. I would be photographing for books.

I hope my legacy is a portfolio of great work and a ton of people who thoroughly enjoyed working with me or having their photo taken by me.

BONUS: Please feel free to share anything else that is coming to the surface or that you’d like to share. It can be something fun, silly, informative. If the rest of these questions got the juices flowing, but you feel like you have something else to say - here’s the space to do it.  :)  

I think one of the biggest lessons I learned this year was to trust my gut, and I hope that’s something you can take with you into the new year if you’re reading this.




Want to know more? Eager to connect with Chelsea? Here's how:

Ready to get in front of the camera? Here's how you can connect:

Send Chelsea an email + make some magic!!

Fun little extra:

Sign up for the networking events I host, and come to one if you’re local to Austin! I promise you’ll meet some great people!