We had the good fortune of connecting with Christine Tustin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christine, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Since starting a photography business a lot has changed for me. I started my business in 2016, had my first baby in 2017, and my second baby in 2019. It’s safe to say running a business from home has changed significantly with two little ones. It has been hard to maintain a healthy work/life balance, but in a really cool way I’ve been forced into figuring it out. I can’t just let the little ones run rampant while I work all day and I can’t just ignore my work. I’m a few years into parenting and I’m still trying to figure it all out, but it does become more clear over time how much of myself I will allow to give to my work and family. I try to make sure I separate the two worlds because I never want my girls to see their mom constantly eyes glued onto a computer screen editing away or answering emails or worse…creating social media content instead of spending time with them. What works for me is just being prepared and knowing when my week/month/season starts to pick up with shooting/editing and planning child care accordingly so that I can keep up with it all. I will say most weeks it certainly doesn’t always feel balanced and a lot of it seems like a hustle of trading off kids with my husband, but when I hit a good stride it feels so empowering to be able to be all these things at once.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I think the most important thing to me in my art and creativity is that it always represents authenticity. No matter what I photograph, I want it to feel real and I want to feel the emotion in it. I’m just not as big on staging a shot or lining things up in perfect unison. Life isn’t that way. I find so much beauty in the world around us as we know, the good and the bad. The details around us are what tells the story, altering it too much just feels like we missed the point. Along with that, I have some ethical guidelines that I set up for my art and career. I strongly believe in women empowerment, celebrating women as they naturally are no matter their season of life. I choose not to photoshop any person or make any body altering adjustments. I also greatly respect the privacy of women who come to me for boudoir shoots and will not share their images for marketing or any reason unless I have specific permission (even then, it’s rare). For that reason, my boudoir portfolio is completely private and password protected. This is pretty uncommon, as an artist you want to showcase your work so that you book more of it, but in this case – the privacy and respect of women’s bodies far outweigh my ability to market myself. Along with women empowerment, I do also host an annual “Mama + Me” event that started in 2017. It’s a photoshoot day of pampering, food, drinks, flowers and giveaways for moms and their kids. We donate a portion of the proceeds from that day to breastcancer.org. It all kind of came about when I became a mom myself and struggled from the beginning with everything, but mostly breastfeeding. I wanted to create this beautiful event where moms (who are almost always the ones taking the photos and never in the photo) get to be pampered and celebrated while supporting a cause. I always knew that photography was my passion, but what I really wanted was to figure out how to continue giving back through my passions and talents. Another organization that I came across is RAINN. I knew immediately that I wanted to give back to RAINN so I started a mission of donating a portion of my wedding packages directly to RAINN. More than that though, I wanted to make sure that I use my platform as a megaphone where to find help. I know so many young kids are on social media right now and as a young girl, I didn’t feel like I knew where I could turn for help, so now I want to be at least one more voice out there shouting where to find it for someone who may need it.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Honestly, I’m not that boujee. I hope my friend who is coming to stay for the week isn’t either because you better believe we are going to live off of a diet of fish tacos and california burritos. We would 100%, no hesitation, start our day off with a coffee from OB beans and then alternating between there and Moniker Coffee. Our lunch spots would look something like this: Mitch’s Seafood, Sunnie’s, and Blue Water Seafood (in OB), Happy Hour + apps would be at Ketch in my favorite little nugget of Shelter Island. We would absolutely go for calzones at Hoboken in PB (I am from New Jersey and this place is legit). We would probably visit Black’s Beach (depending on if I have kids with me or not) For sure getting Sidecar donuts. Wow, drooling. Sunset Cliffs walks are necessary. Probably head back to Moniker Coffee for my favorite acai bowl. If the kids are with me, head to the waterfront park downtown and to finish it all off we will be placing an order on the phone for Ortiz’s California burrito (because nobody has time to wait around in that parking lot)… Planning out this imaginary trip is exhausting and exciting all at the same time, I think I need a nap from that.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I wouldn’t be where I am if I didn’t have the support/mentorship/encouragement and love of SO many around me. My major shoutout goes out to my husband, Brian, who has been my number one supporter since day one. Without his dream-bigger attitude I might not have had the courage to jump careers like I did. Not only that, but even though he works a full time job and doesn’t work with me, he hustles just as hard to help make sure our kids are taken care of while I shoot a wedding or so I can go out of town for a work trip, workshop, you name it. We don’t have any family around us, we chose to move across country and set roots in San Diego on our own and so we have had to rely on each other if we want to make stuff happen. In short – he’s an absolute dream, I can’t believe I’ve got him on my team in this life.
Christine Tustin Photography