July 14, 2012

Smarty Mom: Anne Willette


Mom to: Kate {almost 5} & Eve {2}
Married to: Bruce
Years lived in Charlotte: 7

I bet you already know Anne Willette? Seems to me, everyone does! And why not? Anne is the most creative and charismatic mommy I know. Her ability to whip-up fabulous projects is the stuff of legends. She is always doing something unique and lovely. She is a photographer and she snaps perfect, and I mean PERFECT photos. Anne is witty and funny and beautiful. When you are in a conversation with her it is simply impossible to breakaway because she is utterly charming. Her dry sense of humor is ridiculous.

Anne is one of those moms that just makes you feel bad about yourself because she is always “spot on”! Her daughters are well behaved and always perfectly dressed. Her youngest daughter Eve has picture perfect red hair that makes you want to just squeeze her. Anne never gets stressed and if she does, it never shows. Her family photos are full of special moments that she has created.

Congrats to my Super Smarty friend Anne. You are perfection!

Here’s Anne…

First, wow! Thanks so much for such the intro. I don’t even recognize myself in some of this, but hey, if it “appears” that my kids are perfectly dressed and well-behaved, then that’s all that matters ;).

What keeps you creative?

Pinterest! HELLO!! Just kidding, well, kind of. You know creativity, while it can totally come from within, is also very contagious. I am so very fortunate to have such creative, inspiring people around me. I have some close friends that are also amazing photographers that keep me on my toes. I also have friends, while not photographers, are also creative people in their own right…whether it’s in the kitchen, in raising their kids, even just being creative in what they wear, my people got talent! My husband Bruce has quite the knack for thinking beyond the ordinary as well.

How do you stay calm all of the time? And, I do mean, ALL OF THE TIME!

I love this persona I give off. Several people lately have said this to me and frankly, I’ve never ever thought of myself as a “calm” person. It’s not a conscious choice I make by any means, I guess I tend to get worked up over only certain things…or maybe I’m good at hiding it? Either way, don’t be fooled, I can show plenty of “passion” you just have to hit the right buttons.

Why did you decide to start developing a photography business?

I have been interested in photography and taking and editing pics for while now. I have a blog that I update fairly regularly with pictures from mostly just Willette family happenings. After a while, it was just a natural transition to start photographing friends’ families as well.

I am taking it slow for now. Having two in pre-school just hasn’t lent itself to me having too much free time other than at night when they are in bed and by that point, I’m kind of fried. However, I am taking on a few clients here and there and hope to, one day, be able to support something more consistent.

What do you love about photography?

I love how it is a way to incorporate people that you love and care about, important events and/or places, into works of art. I find great satisfaction, for instance, in taking an event (like the Blue Ridge Relay) and creating a whole story
about it through various works of art…photographs! Not that my photographs are oh so artistic, but just saying they’re visuals, and I like visual. I like taking the pictures and I really like messing with them (editing) afterwards.

How do you balance photography sessions and being a mommy?!!

I don’t know yet!?? I’m still working on that. I’m a little scared that I can’t right. For now, I set in my head the number of clients I could realistically take on per month and am sticking to it. We’ll see how that goes.

What is your favorite photo you have ever taken?

The pressure! Here’s ONE of my faves…

We have always liked this one because it’s our girl totally and completely footloose and fancy free…as any child should be.

Any advice for mommies on how to take fabulous photos of theirkiddies!?

1. Get a DSLR camera. These are the ones that have a faster shutter speed (meaning you hear a fast “click” when taking a pic vs. a beep, delay, and then you see the pic). There is very little delay with these types of cameras and it is a MUST to have with fast moving little kids.

2. If you want to take fabulous photos, you need to also do a little studying up! There are TONS of blogs out there that teach about basic photography settings and I’ve seen some pins on Pinterest lately as well that would help. Or take a class (I know of a few if anyone needs a rec) or ask your photographer friends! Taking a pic with a crisp foreground and blurry background isn’t as hard as you think!

3. Get on their level. Squat down. Get on your knees. Lie Down. You kids are much shorter than you. It just makes for a better composition.

4. Get stuff out of the way! When you look through you viewfinder, make sure extraneous stuff isn’t around…cups, random bags, toys on the ground, anything that sticks out that can ruin a picture. Also, check for stuff that just doesn’t match? Like if you’re taking a group pic of kids on the couch, take the pillows off if they are standing out, so the focus is on the kids, not the other stuff.

5. Learn how to edit your photos, even if it’s just a little…brighten the colors,turn them to black and whites…if you have a Mac, iPhoto can easily do this for you and there’s lots of online sites that will as well (Flickr is one). A lot of photos can be saved and livened through editing.

What is the most important lesson you have learned since becoming a mommy?

I feel like I am still beginning to learn my lessons. Or just when I think I’ve learned one, I forget what I learned and have to start all over. But if I have to name one, I’d say that I’m never going to be perfect at this job, not for one day.

I’m always going to go to bed reviewing the day and worried that I did this wrong and shouldn’t have lost my temper about that. I am learning that, as a mom (and wife too), you really can just do the best you can and that’s gotta be okay.

SUV or mini-van?

Mini-Van or bust. I was once one of the moms everyone says they are “I’m sorry I know you love your Van, but I’m just not that type…” Bruce pushed me and pushed me to test drive our Odyssey and I was a convert after a spin around the block. It is so so spacey and convenient and frankly, rides like an Accord. Don’t get me started on how much I love it, I could go on for days. I won’t be in it forever, but for now, it works well for us.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I see us having so much fun with our girls…going to their sporting events and school plays. I see lots of kids in and out of our house and just living the life I have now but with the excitement that comes with the older kid bracket. I assume that I will be doing work of some sort…photography or maybe go back to recruiting, which is fun too.

What is your favorite kid-friendly restaurant?

-We try to avoid eating out with our kids ;). I’m sure this will change one day when they’re older, but right now, it’s just is too stressful for us to even relax…I’m sure many of you can relate. BUT, we do have a fairly consistent tradition of going out to lunch on Saturdays. We either do Bricktops or Harper’s.

-Otherwise, for a casual/easy lunch with my girls, I stick to the Flavors Café at the Harris Y. The food is pretty darn good and we always see friends there.

What are your favorite activities to do with your children?

We love to sit around the kitchen table and do “art.” Just the other day my oldest, Kate, presented an art lesson complete with a “sample” and we watercolored some paper plates. This is truly relaxing for me. We also love to listen to music, sing and dance. Singing and dancing to a little Justin Bieber with these two is like pure heaven to me. I also love to play any type of sports with them. It’s neat because Kate is just now getting to the age where we can “play” tennis together or kick the soccer ball and actually ride bikes too. She LOVES to run with me and that makes me a happy mama.

What are your favorite activities to do without your children?

-Bruce and I love our date nights, we also treasure our time over a martini after the girls have gone to bed.

-I love to be on this computer, uninterrupted. It brings me joy and relaxation to just be sitting here editing photos or reading blogs, emailing, etc.

-Otherwise, some good girlfriend time is huge for me. I love a girls’ night out or even just a good conversation with my friends that are farther away. A 30 minute phone call, kid-free, is a big time treat.

-Also, I’m a devotee to some pretty awesome shows that are not suitable for my kids…Homeland, Bachelorette, Housewives of whatever, etc.

What is your favorite “girls night out” spot?

-Roosters is a fave of mine…great bar and warm atmosphere and they have that big rounded/squared booth that fits a lot of us and makes for a good conversation.

-Upstream is fun too…it’s in a lively atmosphere and their Sea Bass is crazy good.

Favorite Charlotte Smarty Blog?

-My favorite, most recent one, because let’s face it, there’s LOTS, is Cheryl’s I {HEART} BFF’s. It had me in tears and I proceeded to forward it to my BF’s from childhood/college. Friends are such a big part of what keeps me moving and this post just made me STOP and appreciate.

-And, of course, shout out to Krista’s, “I am an Athlete.” I know that message hit home with many readers and I just feel so blessed to have been a part of it!

Favorite thing about being a mother?

I was thinking just today that I am starting to feel a little like I want to be the one doing all of the things Kate is starting to be able to participate in. Like, I want to be on swim team and I want to drive a Barbie Car all through the yard and I want to go to the “Fresh Beat Band” Concert (or wait, I am!). I think I just love kind of being able to be a kid again if that makes sense? Yesterday I was riding a scooter while Kate was riding her bike around the neighborhood. I mean, if I didn’t have kids, that would be kind of weird, and may still be, but I was just truly having fun!

I also cannot get enough of watching my girls play together. When they are good, they are really fun and funny and the things they say are priceless. They make us laugh and I like that about being a mom.

Could not live without my…

-Husband’s love and patience

-The Harris Y…this place is such an important community to me and the rest of my family. The Athletic Conditioning classes (used to be called “Power Hour”) are my outlet…both physically and socially. The friends I have made through the Y are some of my best. There’s just something about bonding over a good sprint ;) I’m pretty sure I can honestly say I couldn’t be a happy stay-at-home-mom without this place. My kids love the childcare there and just having that hour or so to myself with my buds is priceless. The Harris Y is kind of like the mini-van subject for me, I could go on and on…

-Girlfriends…From my childhood gang (the “getalong gang,” as we were named) to my college peeps, to my playgroup crew, to my Y friends, neighborhood friends, etc, I love having these special women in my life. You know who you are and I could NOT live without you!! I remember when I moved to Charlotte when we were engaged, I knew no one and basically had no friends. It was a lonely time being without local connections. I am thankful everyday that I have such good people that support and surround me.

19 Responses

  1. Cheryl Perry Cheryl says:

    We love Anne!!! She IS cool as a cucumber and completely fantastic (as are her sweet girls)! Great interview, Krista!

  2. Jen Plym Jen Plym says:

    Anne is truly amazing! Ditto all of the wonderful things Krista wrote:-) Anne, I have a question for you since you’re a videographer as well. What video camera brand/model would you recommend for a family like mine – kids entering sports, dance recitals, etc. My flip isn’t cutting it anymore, my iPhone has taken over and I feel like I’m missing out on awesome video memories. LMK!

  3. Wendy B says:

    Anne is amazing. I am so lucky to call her my friend. Never have I met someone who stays so calm and tells you everything is going to be just fine no matter what. And for the record her camera is magic, she even makes me look acceptable in photos and that is hard to do. Love you Anne.

  4. Lucy says:

    Anne is the real deal, super mommy, super talented, super athlete-you don’t want to have to chase her around a soccer field;) and super friend!! Love you ANNE!!

  5. Ashley says:

    Love ya Anne!! Great job. You are such a sweetheart!

  6. brooke says:

    Such a great post!! Love Anne — absolutely an amazing, super-talented, crazy funny smarty mom!!

  7. Y’all are too much. Thanks so much for all of the sweet comments. Man, makes a girl feel good :) So Jen, to answer your question, I am in the same boat as you! As many home movies that I have made (via my friend, imovie), I am still either using my flip, my camera (which does have a good quality video, but I have to manually focus it) and my iphone. So…I’ll let you know when I know!

    Thanks again Smarties!

  8. Sarah says:

    What a wonderful person Anne is!! I don’t get to see her much since my kids are out of preschool but miss our fun conversations on the playground!!

  9. Alicia says:

    Love this!! You are such inspiration Anne!!! Fabulous Smarty Mom!! :)

  10. Tiffany says:

    This blog makes me want to kick small kittens.

  11. Jen Parrish says:

    Aww, love Anne! Perfect choice for Smarty Mom! Anne – you rock!

  12. Katie Estridge says:

    What a great article and inspiring Mom! Beautiful girls! Not sure why this would make someone want to kick small kittens??!!! Inappropriate, much?!

  13. kate lee says:

    Glad i stumbled upon this…goodness knows Mama Anne (as she’s affectionately known in our playgroup) wasn’t going to advertise that this had been posted! Thanks to Krista especially for insisting on adding Anne to the amazing smarty mom honor roll list…I of all people should know how darn worthy she is of this shout out. Proud to be associated with you Mama Anne and to call you a BFF…man though…I learned a thing or 2 in this post!

    Happy Birthday to Kate! Today she is 5!

  14. Denise says:

    Geez mama Anne – a heads up would’ve been nice!!! Hello!!! I love this woman more than words and I love that I’m s.l.o.w.l.y. getting her over her cooking fears. And I’m so glad she got recognized for being her fabulous self!

  15. Raychelle says:

    Go Anne go! You are awesome, girl. Love reading your responses & learning more about you. I know we “pass” one another at Harris almost daily…it’s funny how the “people in the hall” become your Y family. So proud of you & well-deserved! Pass along some of that calm spirit…I need that to rub off on me!!! :)

  16. Terri says:

    Anne is wonderful, and I taught cutie pie Kate in dance, too, at the Harris YMCA! If you’re at the Y and want to learn more about photography, I highly recommend Heather’s class this fall for beginners and intermediates! Congrats, Anne!
    http://www.ymcacharlotte.org/branches/harris/youthdev/ael/arts/photography.aspx

Leave a Reply