Happy Valentine’s Day, and Happy Meet a Mom Monday! This week’s Meet a Mom feature is Sarah Dickerson, Lincoln Park mom and founder of Wildwood Photography. Her love of children and family photography led her to pursue her BFA in photography, and ultimately open her own business.
In Sarah’s own words, “The joy of working with families, developing connections with them and their children is unlike anything else. It’s why I founded Wildwood Photography.” Keep reading out interview below, where Sarah shares more about life with her sweet 5 month old Waylon, her path to founding Wildwood Photography, and some other fun facts!
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Thanks so much for speaking with us today Sarah! Where are you from originally? What brought you to Chicago?
I am originally from Sycamore, Illinois, which is about 60 miles west of here. I moved to Chicago in 2007 to go to Columbia College of Chicago for my BFA in Photography and I have been here ever since!
Which neighborhood do you call home, and what do you love about living there?
Lincoln Park, I love that we have so much within walking distance. I can’t wait to enjoy all the parks this summer with Waylon but also all the patio dinners are definitely a family favorite.
You’re a mama! How many children do you have and how old are they?
I sure am and my rainbow baby, Waylon, just turned 5 months. So still a very new mama, but loving every minute of it!
What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?
Ah! Where do I begin?! I think it’s the way he looks at me right now (pause while heart is melting)! But there are so many things… We have spent a lot of time together and he is a very cute co-worker at the studio. I love that I get to have him there to see how he is changing by the day and discovering the world and all the new sounds and faces he loves to make!
What has been the most surprising thing (so far) about motherhood?
The exhaustion is at a different level from any tiredness I have ever experienced. I am used to surviving on very little sleep during the holiday season and so thought I was prepared, but boy, this is something else. I have learned that I have to leave things for another day, which is not like me before having Waylon. I could and would just keep going. Whereas now I am so exhausted. It didn’t help that we have just had to get through our holiday season as well.
What are your favorite things to do around the city with your family?
Exploring the city on foot. We just had so much fun at Zoolights. We love walking, eating out (more me than Rick). We also can’t wait to show Waylon all of the amazing museums and art galleries Chicago has to offer!
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Well, most people who know me, know that I am a dreamer and have constant goals, plans and thoughts running around in my head, but it used to be so crazy…I was going to join the circus and do backflips on elephants, race in the Tour de France, write a book, become a singer (my voice is awful by the way!), and pretty much do ALL the things! I have honed in on my dreams and goals for life so that they are more attainable, but I never want to stop believing that anything is possible.
Tell us more about how you got into photography! Has it always been a passion?
I was a nanny and I was obsessed with the kids I was nannying for and so I would take pictures of them all the time. This is definitely what made me fall in love with children and family photography. I started by going to a community college while I was nannying to see if photography really was something I loved. It was instant love and so I enrolled at Columbia and the rest is history. The joy of working with families, developing connections with them and their children is unlike anything else. It’s why I founded Wildwood Photography.
Tell us all about your business, Wildwood Photography!
Wildwood Photography specializes in photographing children and their families. We not only shoot at Wildwood Studio in Roscoe Village, but we shoot on location and love heading downtown, to the beach, near Lincoln Park Zoo and all of the other amazing locations Chicago and its suburbs has to offer. We love shooting newborns, toddlers, parents, grandparents, siblings (both furry and human) and capturing all the major family moments over the years. We also rent out our studio location to other photographers who do not have a studio of their own. Additionally, we rent out our space for private events. We have thrown countless baby showers, bridal showers, networking events, company meetings or holiday parties, milestone birthday parties, neighborhood mom meet-ups, pop up shops and we even had a few wedding receptions this past year!
How has the pandemic changed the way that you work? Have there been any positives for you?
It was initially tough when we had to close the studio, but since then everyone has adapted and we took all the precautions. Since we had to stop events and had very few of them the last few years, we just stepped up our game with photography. You can always shoot outdoors and on-location, which was great for us. For events, we have had to really increase our flexibility around them and to make sure everyone is comfortable. But actually people have loved our space as their own, being that it feels like home and provides a good level of privacy.
What is your favorite part about being a photographer?
Getting to watch the kids growing up over the years is just magical. It is insane how fast time flies and being able to be a part of their lives and their families has been such a gift!
Who are your influences and/or mentors that have helped you get to where you are today, and/or continue to inspire you?
So many for sure…My mom for starters for showing me and my siblings how you can be a working mom. So many of my clients who have helped and advised me over the years as well. Photography-wise, I LOVE Meg Loeks…she has a bunch of kids on a farm with animals and is totally living my dream life…one day! I will need to get going on more kids though!
Rapid Fire Round!
Favorite local takeout restaurant: Shine Sushi every time for me but as a couple we love John’s Place or Tony’s Tacos
Favorite dessert: Cheesecake but I love most desserts
Window or aisle seat? Window all the way
Favorite makeup product: Nars tinted moisturizer or Tarte Mascara
Can’t leave the house without: My baby and my phone (even though I have definitely left my phone behind a couple times since having a baby!)
Your go-to breakfast: Avocado toast or smoothies are my go-tos, but I love to make big breakfasts on my days off with eggs, bacon, blueberry pancakes…I love breakfast!
The last book you read: What to expect when you are expecting!
Your binge shows: Emily in Paris, This is Us, anything on The Magnolia Network!