interview: Carla Ten Eyck

Carla is teaching a shooting workshop at this year's Inspire conference.Website:

What do you love most about your job?

The thing I love most about my job is having my studio manager Dominique. I'm serious! Having her there in the studio doing all of the important day to day things- frees me completely to do what I love doing- shooting and teaching. Being free of not having to be shackled to my desk lets me dream up fun shoots, or focus on creating more workshops or hey! Even spend more time with my family! Wait, one more thing: I love the team aspect of my studio. I love that we are like a family- and that we are obsessed with lunch, and laughing, and listening to Usher and laughing at the lounge music that pops up in our Holiday Playlist! I love that they let me listen to Christmas music in May, and that they are all so organized and tolerant and creative! And that they let my daughter Georgie do their hair, and let my cat Rodney cuddle on their computers. Hey, it's warmer there!

What do you hate most about your job?

When the caller id has a funny name and I look at it, and then Dominique has to answer it, but can't because we both get the giggles! And then they don't leave a voicemail! And it could be Justin Timberlake calling to hire me, or Prince William. But we will never know because I made her laugh by snorting when I saw the name. I totally suck!

Where do you find inspiration?

Not to be cliche, but dude, it is absolutely EVERYWHERE I look. I think the unifying factor for me is that I see it as a combination of Extreme Makeover meets Just Give Me Some Pretty Light! I love the challenge of being inspired by some thing, or some one- and then having to work for the rest. It becomes this crazy visual puzzle- I see this cool textured road, right. It's all cracked and old concrete with giant pot holes in it, and a faded yellow line. So then I am inspired by the colors, the texture. I imagine a girl all dressed in grey tones, some subtle silver. But bright yellow ribbon in her hair or yellow shoes or something to bring out that yellow in the line, even though it's faded... it can be flat light or warm light, I don't even care, I'll make it work... See now can't you see it in your head? Wait. ok I guess color is a big thing for me, as far as getting me inspired. I just tried to visualize some times when I get inspired and it always comes back to color- it's there, it's not, it's subtle, it's monochromatic, it's in your face! It's color!

Is there a defining moment in your growth as an artist?

There was. It was once I realized that while I cared what my photographer friends and colleagues were doing, I no longer CARED what they were doing. It had no bearing on what I wanted to do as a photographer and business owner- where they shot, how many people worked for them, where they were published, where they were chosen to speak or teach... as soon as I realized that while their successes were awesome for them, they had nothing to do with what I wanted and where I was going with my business. Seriously, once that happened, my business absolutely exploded. Jealousy is a scary and powerful thing and can really sap your creative process, your self esteem and in the end, your business. There really is plenty of business for everyone, just let it go and be who you want to be!

Aside from photography, do you have other creative outlets?

I am an avid gardener and reader. I can seriously talk about landscaping for an uncomfortably long time.

If you could go on a trip where would that be and what would you hope to do there?

I'm actually not sure. I mean, there are so many places that I don't even know about , it's alarming how ignorant I am about the world. I remember watching Survivor back in the day and was like WHAT, there is this island called - wait, it starts with a B- and it's not Bora Bora.... oh forget it. See how ignorant I am? But I would go there! I would also go to a small fishing village on the coast of Portugal, but I don't even know what it's called or where it is, but I just KNOW it's there! Or. I'll bet there is a foggy little town someplace with muted colors and friendly strangers, maybe in Iceland? I'll find it! I would come up with some type of personal project for each place. So yes, I am truly one dimensional, I would shoot there! God I am so boring!!

What advice do you wish you had received (or followed) when you were starting your business?

That being a professional photographer is less about being a photographer when you first start than you realize. That I have to be business minded in addition to being an artist (we all know how that works out sometimes) But that it's VITAL to know this- whether you outsource right outta the gate or you keep everything in your front pocket- that it needs to be done! Paying taxes, charging taxes, knowing the laws, what the hell is workman's comp!!! is my contract legit!  independent contractors versus employees! Liability insurance! Wait, I need insurance??? You see what I'm saying? It's crazy what we are expected to know! All I want to do is take pretty pictures!!!!!!!

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A photographer! I am so boring, but it's true. OK, maybe Wonder Woman, those red boots were just so stylish and maybe even borderline inappropriate!

If they made a movie of your life, what would it be about and which actor would you want to play you?

It would be complete nonsense. Jim Altieri would film it, and it would be one big slo mo music video. I think that I would have Shrek play me, because honestly that is how I feel - like a male cartoon figure with a scottish accent! But maybe I'd make Shrek wear a pink wig, so people would know it was about me... It would be riddled with tom foolery, silly jokes, fart humor and beautiful light. The soundtrack would be completely awesome though- and have all genres of music represented from LL Cool J to Willie Nelson!

What are your pet peeves or interesting things about you that you dislike?

Some pet peeves: I strongly dislike garlic breath on people; I hate getting the edge of my long sleeve shirts unintentionally wet; when I grab a pencil out of the pencil cup and it's not sharpened; when my chapstick is so used it's inverted and actually starts scraping my lips off when I use it

Tell us about a unique or quirky habit of yours.

I like to rub cold quarters between my fingers. Seriously. I have two that reside in my window frame right by my desk, so when I stop and space out and think, I rub 'em. OK, one more- it's incredibly easy to get me to yawn. Just say the word, text it! I hear someone, I THINK i hear or see someone yawn and it's game over! See! I just totally yawned!

If you had to describe yourself using three words, they would be…

Just two: Alarmingly Pretty! ok ok ... still just two....Team Player! (notice I did not say Rule Follower)