We were lucky to catch up with Sarah Boutwell recently and have shared our conversation below.
Sarah, appreciate you joining us today. We’d love to hear the backstory behind a risk you’ve taken – whether big or small, walk us through what it was like and how it ultimately turned out.
When my Dad called me the risk taker of the family a couple years ago it really hit hard. I knew my path was unconventional but I didn’t consider myself a risky person, little did I know… It was so natural for me growing up to quit a job without notice because my soul had had enough. My parents hated that, they would always tell me I should be prepared with a backup job. After 20 years of moving around in the restaurant industry, I was good at what I did, really good. This meant I could make as much as I wanted at one of the best restaurants in the city, but I still wasn’t happy. Something was telling me to go for my dreams which had nothing to do with slinging food and helping guests have an enjoyable experience. I was being led towards my love for photography, something I had started at 19 years old but always kept on the back burner as a hobby. Even though I had traveled doing dance photography, had experience with headshots and corporate events, I wasn’t confident that I could make my craft a business, I didn’t know how. I had even started showing my fine art nature photography at art shows and selling my work which was so exciting. This lead to me starting an art non-profit in 2015 called Re-Generation Indy where local professional artists teach workshops and give opportunities for the community to display their creative skills and become part of the art community. Even though this was such an important step, I stayed in a serving position for longer than I ever expected. Then 2020 happened. We all know the weight that this year brought and the changes that occurred. I had time to think about what I really wanted to do with my life. It was a time of reflection to decide how I wanted the rest of my life to go, so I did it… I quit the restaurant life and went into full time entrepreneurship! My world was forever changed. 2 years later, I am running my own photography business AND leading Re-Generation Indy’s growth. While I know these are huge risks, it has never felt more right, more exciting, and more rewarding. The women I work with through my B.O.W project are a constant source of inspiration that we are never alone. We start our sessions with a conversation about our past traumas, similar struggles and then we celebrate who we are now while we do a liberating photoshoot. I offer these for Groups or one on one. On top of that project which will eventually turn into a book, Re-Generation Indy is booming more than ever now that I have the time to put energy into it like it deserves. We have over 20 artists teaching a variety of art workshops around the city and hosting art shows to celebrate the impact. All of the risks I’ve taken over my lifetime have lead me to this very pivotal point in my life where I know to always trust myself.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
I got into photography out of pure need for a job when I was 18. Back then, it was a big box film camera with a remote control, super old school. Years later, I got into digital and started working part time for an event photography company while I was still serving at a restaurant. This lead me to dance photography, fashion photography and ultimately my intentional sessions I now do with women. After shooting for so many different reasons, I wanted my images to truly mean something and speak to people. B.O.W Beauty of Women began a couple of years ago when I decided to finally write a book about my past childhood sexual abuse, how I overcame that trauma and how the women in my world keep me going. Now, I provide a safe space for all women to work with me one on one or in groups to talk about real topics that we normally would sweep under the rug, my work is all about being weirdly vulnerable. The images that are captured during a B.O.W session are powerful, pure and transformational. This work sets me apart from other photographers because I take the time to truly get to know a person before trying to capture their energy. The difference this makes is huge and lets me know that I’m meant to be here on this earth for this exact reason, to help people see the magic of who they really are and to let them know they are never alone. B.O.W now hosts events and retreats that support all women vendors, performers and facilitators. These gatherings are just another way for us to gather intentionally with the purpose of healing, growing and celebrating together. I’m most proud of the Divine Sisterhood this had created, now with a membership online where we can talk 24/7 and continue to support each other. Watching the connections that happen through this platform is why I will never stop this impactful work. I hope to travel more doing these group sessions and speaking about the power of vulnerability. All of that being said, it leads me back to why I do what I do with Re-Generation Indy. The next generation needs to know that being a creative entrepreneur is a viable opportunity no matter where you are located. Giving access to the public to be involved in the arts community shows them what is possible and sparks interests they may have not known were there. The process of them working with a local professional gives them real life skills and inspiration to know they can become a successful artist as well. These connections set the tone of being the bridge that connects all generations through art. Everyone needs a positive outlet for expression and art provides that in so many ways. So, while photography is my art, I do everything I can to find opportunities for my community and the artists that live here to work together, create together and to thrive. Our art shows and community events give the youth and opportunity to learn about their value, pricing their work and giving them the skills to talk about why they create. The most rewarding part of this endeavor is watching a kid sell their first piece of artwork and getting that gift card so they can keep making more. It shows them that they are seen, heard and that we care about their future. As we grow, we are taking donations to help us make our own location a reality. Our ultimate goal is to have a space that can be used as an art gallery for our youth and our teaching artists, be a workshop space for our classes that also has open studio hours for the public, hold a few affordable artist studios and be a art supply store that feeds right back into our community. While these goals are big, I know they are achievable.
What do you think is the goal or mission that drives your creative journey?
Honestly, to be happy. At the end of the day, isn’t that all we’re trying to do? My goal in this creative mission is to literally bring myself joy, inspiration and more authentic connections. This life is hard enough, when we find what we love to do, we should embrace it with everything we’ve got because that is our gift to the world. We are literally walking creation, so why not keep creating with the goal purely being joy?
Learning and unlearning are both critical parts of growth – can you share a story of a time when you had to unlearn a lesson?
The biggest lesson I had to unlearn was that more work means more money. While this may mathematically be true, it is not the energetic reality. My parents fought about money more than anything else growing up and it gave me an ingrained fear that I would never have enough. It took me into my 30’s to find out that money is just like the tide, always flowing in and flowing out at the same time. There is ALWAYS enough. The more I move with gratefulness and intention, the more I’m taken care of in this physical reality, yes that means money. But, now I just think of it as a tool for me to do my best work. With that mindset, everything changed. It’s not how much work I do, it’s about the quality of my work. More of my time doesn’t mean more money. In fact, more of my time means I’m more stressed out and not focusing on the things that bring me peace. When I think back on the times that meant the most in my life they had nothing to do with money. The best times were the ones filled with gut busting laughs, that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you jump, that moment of resilience when you don’t know what to feed your family but come up with a gourmet meal from scraps, those times you decided go for it with no money in sight, those times chose joy over fear… None of those require money, they just require you to keep believing in yourself, to keep going no matter what and to know that you are worthy of everything you desire. This was my biggest lesson to unlearn.
- Website: https://photographybysarahboutwell.com/ or https://www.regenerationindy.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/everythingbouty/ or https://www.instagram.com/regenerationindy/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarah.boutwell.73 or https://www.facebook.com/regenerationindy
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-boutwell-797a3768/