Today we’d like to introduce you to April Lehman and Erin Grace.
April and Erin, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
We’ve always been creative. When we were kids, we would play legos, just like a lot of kids. A lot of kids stick mostly to the instructional booklet that comes with the lego kit. We would most often create pretty rooms with those legos: living rooms, kitchens, outdoor spaces. Making pretty spaces is in our blood. We come from a long line of creatives who value a certain visual aesthetic. Fast forward to the college years. Erin threw her creativity into dance, even attending university to study dance. April almost studied interior design. While her major changed to Christian Education, she did take on Art as her minor. After college, both our career paths indirectly had large creative components to them. Erin worked in retail but was heavily involved with visual sets and window displays with the goal to draw in customers. April became a Youth and Children’s Minister. A huge component of that was planning and managing events. All events had a detailed visual theme and photography was a large component in documenting all the happenings of those events. We lived a lot of years of our early adult lives in different states: Erin in Arizona and April in California.
We both became moms within six months of each other in 2009/2010. Like most parents, we aimed to (and often did) document all our children’s milestones via photograph and over-the-top themed scenes. Add a few more years to our careers and a few more children each into the mix, and you have a lot of professional creative experience and parental experience taking milestone photos. As life would have it, sometimes we just didn’t have the time to create the scene we wanted to capture our children’s milestones. In those times, the options were bleak. We could either go to the mall and see Santa, the Easter Bunny or visit the local photo studio. The aesthetics there were typical and lacked creativity. Another option was to hire a professional photographer. We simply didn’t have the funds to afford that option very often.
Remember how we used to make pretty rooms out of legos? We are also chronic decorators. Unfortunately, our personal cash flow just doesn’t allow us to constantly re-create our homes into all the different aesthetics we love. So, here you have two moms who love to create, take creative milestone photos of their kids, decorate and re-decorate their homes. About three years ago we realized that we no longer used our cameras or video cameras. We used our phone for all of that. We weren’t the only ones. Most parents were doing the same and documenting their children’s lives like never before. The trend of creative milestone photography wasn’t going anywhere. We noticed more photographers getting into subtle themed photography more and more. After a little research, we learned that this idea we had was not a new idea. People were creating themed photo scenes, backdrops, and vignettes all over the world. What if we did what we had always done since becoming mothers, combined with our years of visual training, and take it to the public, too? We decided to take on this business together. Three years later and here we are, living out that dream.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
We create photo backdrops, scenes, and vignettes for public and private use. We create multiple backdrops often relating to a holiday, season, or theme and set them up at our outdoor studio. We offer the public a DIY photo studio experience. Use our pretty scenes, your photography equipment, and capture those memories you want to have. We turn our photo studio visits into an experience. There’s a lot more that goes into getting great photos than just showing up and standing in front of a camera. We aim to take the pressure off parents and provide as many tools as we can to help: treats, crafts, and activities are often needed to help kids stay in the mood. We want families to feel cared for when they visit us.
We pull inspiration from everywhere. We even draw a lot from feelings. What do we want someone to feel from the photos they get with us? We know the power of memory and feelings. While we will always appreciate a pretty scene with proper color balance, light balance, and texture placement, none of that should take away from the subject or overpower him or her. We aren’t professional photographers, but we absolutely have an appreciation and respect for what a good one can provide their clients in how they can properly capture a subject. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. When you come to us for photos, we want YOU and only you to love what you leave with, professional photographer or not. We will do our absolute best work in creating a scene for you that only enhance your precious people. The pressure is on for us every time a family comes through our doors. We know the value of their dollar and that they want to capture something on digital film to treasure for years to come. The expectation of the outcome should be the same, no matter how much one is spending. That’s truly how we feel. We will always do our best-detailed work for our families. Anything less just won’t do.
The sterotype of a starving artist scares away many potentially talented artists from pursuing art – any advice or thoughts about how to deal with the financial concerns an aspiring artist might be concerned about?
Success is never deviating from who you are at your core. This is not about sticking to one particular style because you’re good at it; you often have to be uncomfortable to become better as an artist and in life. You have to have accountability for yourself to be successful. This is only something the artist can measure. As an artist, you can just feel when you’ve done your best work, and the finished product is right. For us, the details of what we make matters. All of them. No matter how big or small. But this applies to more than just being an artist. It applies to who you are as a person. You can’t really separate the artist from the person. If you have accountability to yourself and who you are at your core, you will be successful.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
Since we offer such a visual product, one of the best ways to see what we do and support us is by following along on Instagram. Following along there and encouraging and inviting your friends and family to do the same is more helpful than the general public may realize. Send us messages; let us know what you would like to see. We love hearing from customers. Another great way to see what we do, who we are, and what we stand for is come to visit us at our outdoor studio in Mesa. We open to the public a few times a month. We love getting to know other families in this process and hearing what they want. It’s pretty amazing how close we have become to families in the short time since we’ve had this business operational.
- Address: East Mesa, AZ
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @darlingthree_photostop
- Facebook: @darlingthreephotostop
- Other: https://darlingthree.setmore.com