Crystal is a traveler, writer and highly creative. While she has many talents, now she’s a successful photographer, married to the man of her dreams. I had the honor of meeting her in Nashville, TN, through one of my sisters. Plus, she did all the awesome photography on my site, which ended up being one of the most fun photography sessions I’ve ever had. Here’s her inspiring story:

Crystal K. Martel Angela: Why did you choose your lifestyle and what gave you the idea to actually make it happen?

Crystal: I moved to the States five years ago, and leaving Canada was strangely hard for me. It wasn’t that I was nervous about the actual move – I had moved at sixteen to Finland, and had never stopped traveling – but this move had a permanence that none of the others had. I was getting married to a man I had madly fallen for, but who was in essence still a stranger to me, had no friends or family to call my own while said man toured the world pursuing his own artistic dreams, and my identity quickly became that of “his wife.” I couldn’t very well blame anyone for constantly introducing me as “his” wife, because he was their point of reference for who I was, and I was happy to be his wife, but it was then that I decided that I needed to forge my own little niche and become known as “Crystal K. Martel – creative, successful, married to the man of her dreams.” I picked up my camera, dove into the creative world, and I haven’t looked back (mostly)!

Angela: What obstacles to success have you encountered?

Crystal: I always admired entrepreneurs, was fascinated by their ability to captain their ship, act as first mate, and swab the decks; and I never wanted any part of it. Or, so I thought. I’m a photographer, and using a ship as an analogy may seem strange, but it’s fitting in light of the enormity and intricacies of running one’s own business – especially in the creative industry where your product is subjectively admired and many people go their whole lives without having a professional create portraits for them. But, I love it. My job is creative, requires me to be self-taught and hungry for more information, and I get to be a part of something bigger than myself with every shoot. Doing what I do is exciting! It has found me hanging off of waterfalls, wading into the deep, and bouncing around in the back of pick-up trucks as we wind down busy roads – all things that make my husband sigh, “we have insurance, we have insurance, we have insurance.”

As the digital age continues to grow, and information is boundless, I am in a market where I am one ship in a sea of many! This is one of the obstacles I have to overcome, and I have days where I “look back” and wonder if I’ve chosen correctly. But after wallowing for a hot second in self-doubt (I am a creative, after all!), I pick up my boots and hit it harder. Fortunately, I have a group of creative friends who share insight and tools-of-the-trade freely and skip out of the competitive nature that can easily breed within the folds of this industry. Thank God for people who want to champion with and for you!

Angela: What words of wisdom would you like to share?

Crystal: If I had some advice to give, it would be this: Be courageous, but be smart with your time, business relationships, and finances. Take the time to create documents and checklists that streamline your services for every client, making sure that nothing slips through the cracks and every experience with you, your services, and your product, is a quality one. And lastly, but something I read almost daily, are words of wisdom I am borrowing from Woodrow Wilson:

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”

Want more? If you’re in need of photography session, Crystal just might be in your area.

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