MARCEAU WILLIS

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Could you tell us a little bit about your work, and yourself? You're a photographer and blogger - what else should we know about you?

This question always gets me and I’m not sure why, but I’m going to try my best to give you some insight about who I am. First, I would say that I’m an introvert because I enjoy having time alone to think and preserve my energy. I’m a mean cook in the kitchen, and have been making grey poupon and turkey sandwiches since I was in the 5th grade. My taste buds were quite rich, huh? Being comfortable is very essential for me, which is why t-shirts are my favorite type of clothing. I enjoy chatting it up on the phone for hours about topics that are going on in the world with close friends and family. Unfortunately, the time spent on the phone has come to a halt because I have a 9-month-old who wants to communicate in baby talk instead. But, hey that’s the perks of motherhood!

However, I am a photographer and blogger from Northwest Indiana about 30 minutes away from Chicago. My work is still developing. Photography is rather interesting because there are so many things you can capture and create. My love for photography resonated when I was a little girl capturing everything with my Kodak camera. After three years of trying to build my portfolio on and off, I’ve finally come to the realization to start creating and by that I mean have fun. Sometimes things don’t flourish when you try too hard or try to be like someone else. I’m learning to break the rules a bit and create what feels good to me. The cool thing about photography is that everyone has a different eye, and that’s what makes it enticing. As you can see, my images include a majority of women, because I’m naturally inspired by us, even more so being a mother. I have a new profound respect for life, beauty, and women. 

 
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How did you get started with photography? Did you know right away that is was something you wanted to pursue, or was it more of a gradual realization?

I would say very young I always had little gadgets with me and my go-tos were my Kodak camera and my tape recorder. I used to take pictures of kids my age along with my friends at birthday parties and barbeques. The funny thing is, I never looked at photography as a profession until my aunt suggested I take some classes in college. During my freshman year, I took my aunt’s advice and signed up for a photography course that lasted four hours on a Friday. Sounds pretty long, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I wished my school had offered more classes because it was something that I really enjoyed learning.

 

You really have an eye for capturing women at their most confident - your portraits all look quite powerful. Is this a purposeful move, or do they just turn out that way?

You know that’s amazing that you can see that in my photographs because I am so moved by women empowerment. There are women I look up to that don’t even know that they have an impact on me. I’ve always been someone who has struggled behind the scenes with confidence, especially when it comes to art and trying to become an entrepreneur. I’m very sensitive, but I'm learning to put on my “big girl” shoes and just create what I feel. I’m moved by women and their experiences, so it’s natural to capture a certain essence of them during the photoshoot. 

 
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You're currently working on a project that empowers women to embrace their imperfections. We'd love to hear more about that - how did you come up with the idea for that project?

Last year, I was watching a YouTube video about beauty pertaining to Instagram. This YouTuber was sharing the apps she likes to use to edit her Instagram photos. As a photographer, I thought, "Oh, they have editing apps for your face now!!??" As I continued watching the video, she brought up an app on her phone and demonstrated how you can add a full set of eyelashes to your picture before you decide to post it on Instagram. Immediately I was like, "Awww hellll naw! So this whole time I’ve been comparing myself to editing apps and filters?"

I just couldn’t believe that people feel that they have to enhance their features in order to be accepted. It’s really a lot of pressure. I’ve always liked to see people in their natural habitat without makeup, and in comfortable clothes, probably because I’m like that on a regular day. And by no means am I talking down on women who wear makeup and eyelashes, because I wear makeup too. However, I believe embracing yourself is important for people to see because it communicates self-love and lets others know you are just like them and comfortable in your own skin with or without makeup. 

Anyway, one early morning at 3 a.m. I had an idea and wrote down the word "imperfection," along with the definition I wanted tied to it. My goal was not only to talk about our physical imperfections, but to tackle the mental aspect and the way we compare our work as artists to others in the industry. I’m guilty of comparing my photographs to other photographers and being afraid of posting my work because of it and I wanted to tackle that issue. Even though we all may have a common interest in art, everyone has a different style, a different eye, and a different reason for why they create what they create. I’m learning to respect that part of artistry more. 

 
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The issue of comparison often arises when dealing with social media. Do you think that the age of social media has made women's misconceptions about themselves worse? 

In my opinion, yes, I do believe that social media has made women’s misconceptions about themselves worse because on social media you are in charge of what people see as well as what they don’t see. Instagram is literally only a snippet of someone’s actual day. Nobody is snapping Instagram photos of when they first get up, wiping the boogers from their eyes and maybe their nose and going to the bathroom. We don’t see that because I guess that’s too personal. But is it? That’s something we all can relate to, right? Actually, let me rephrase that because I really don’t want to see someone’s boogers on my timeline, but you get the point. Comparing ourselves to a picture is very deconstructive to our self-confidence, and I think women have to understand that we are all beautiful and talented and we ALL have something to offer this world. Trust me; we wouldn’t be here if we ALL didn’t have a purpose. I think social media is what you make of it. I’ve met some amazing women through Instagram. They are caring, loving, talented, and hardworking women. My new friends have been through Instagram, so social media is actually a cool thing it’s just that it can have a dark side like everything else. It’s important to focus on the positive side of social media and not let it take over your life.  

 
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What's one project you've done (or person you've shot) that particularly impacted you? How did it impact you, and why do you think it did?

Imperfection is my most recent project that has impacted me the most because it’s in the beginning stages and it has so much potential. I want to help other women including myself, by being truthful about how we feel or once felt about the things that are part of us. I feel that it’s very uplifting and in some ways therapeutic. Imperfection has two series, and the videos can be found on my Youtube channel here. More series are in the works, so stay tuned. In 2016, when I started contacting people for this project, the stories that these individuals shared with me were impeccable. I would have never known they experienced some of the hardships they shared if I hadn’t asked specifically about their imperfections. That’s when I knew this project was important, and that it needed to be shared with the world. The beauty of the project is that women are being vulnerable and brave about who they are, and genuinely want to help other women by using their voice to uplift and encourage others to embrace themselves. 

 
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On your website, you mention you're interested in Ayurveda medicine and yoga - could you talk a little more about these creative interests?

When I was young I spent a lot of time with my aunt. We used to play African instruments and record music. Her house was filled with hundreds of books, oils, antique furniture, and herbs. She’s known in the family to be pretty conscious, especially about culture and food. So as a young kid seeing all this, I think it was natural that I became interested in holistic health as well. During my junior year in college I found out I had a crooked tail bone and a tense pelvic floor that basically caused a lot of excruciating pain. The doctors wanted to put me on medication, but the medication only numbed the pain, and didn’t heal my tailbone. The side effects of taking the medicine were horrible. Over time I would develop some type of gastrointestinal issues, and I just had to say no to all that jazz. That’s when I started looking into yoga and trying to find natural ways to become more healthy. I always heard about yoga, but never gave it a try until then.

Yoga changed my life. Sometimes you think you know what something is, but in reality you don’t know until you try it. Yoga heals the body, soul, and mind. I practiced yoga for a couple months, and I saw improvement within my tailbone. I was also learning to breathe correctly and practice mindfulness. Since then, I’ve slacked on my yoga, but have been taking it upon myself to practice in the morning before my son awakes or when it’s time for bed. Yoga just feels right. Ayurvedic medicine is all about the mind and the body. Practicing to live freely is important to me in order to reduce stress and be aware of what the body consumes. I noticed a change when I learned to relax my mind, practice yoga, and eat well. I feel my best. Your body will always signify when it is in comfort or discomfort. My goal is to really master the things my body has communicated to me through pain and discomfort. I’m not all the way there, but I’m practicing now so that it becomes a way of life.

 
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What's a big goal you have for the future? Where do you see your photography practice progressing, and what steps are you taking to achieve that goal?

My goal for the future is to do what I love for a living, be an entrepreneur, and continue to connect with people along the way. I hope to become a better photographer each year because no matter what you do in life, there’s always something to learn about your craft and a chance to improve. I was listening to an interview with Denzel Washington and he stated that he still attends acting class. Now, Denzel Washington is a phenomenal actor, and if he still goes to acting class then I still have a ways to go with my photography even if I reach a high point. I always want to remain humble no matter what heights and triumphs I come across. Right now, I’m practicing my craft and finding ways to stay inspired. I’m proud to say that I’m taking my time during photo shoots now, and making sure that I’m capturing moments and not taking hundreds of useless photos.

 

Could you talk a little about the Blog section of your site? You've got some great beauty tips, along with deeply personal posts about being a mother. What inspires you to write so personally? If you could have readers take away one main idea from your blog, what would it be?

The Blog section of my site is a chance for people to get to know me a bit more. My friends are always asking me about tips on cooking and beauty, so I like to share that on my site. There’s so much more to me than being a photographer and I want my clients/readers to feel connected with me and see that we have similar experiences. During my pregnancy, I wasn’t ready to be a mom and at that time I was searching for women who had similar experiences and wanted to know how they dealt with becoming a new mom while still trying to achieve their dreams. I was so tired of seeing the picture perfect pregnancy story, and wanted to read something that I could relate to. So on my blog I decided to be truthful about my experiences as a new mother and the things that drive me crazy sometimes. I want to be there for someone who might be looking for some support. All in all, I’m overly obsessed with my baby, but motherhood is no joke and I need a break sometimes.

 
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How do you feel about women creatives coming together and supporting each other?

I think it’s very crucial for women creatives to come together and support each other. I think as artists, we sometimes feel alone, especially if we don’t have the support of our family and friends. Having a community of women who come together to network and open up doors for other woman is much needed in our society. We often hear jokes and instances about how women can’t get along, and I say the heck with that because there is a community of women who are there for one another and genuinely want to see their peers succeed. Just like this community. I’m so honored to be interviewed for The Creative Chronicle!

 

 

Check Marceau out on Instagram and her website.

And check out her Ten Facts feature here.