We had the good fortune of connecting with Julie O’Neill and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Julie, what’s the most important think you’ve done for your children?
As a mom to four young children, my days often feel like they are an endless stream of preparing meals, changing diapers, searching for the lost toy, refereeing arguments, and now during the pandemic, home schooling my kids. But it is during these chaotic and sometimes mundane moments that I believe my most important job is taking place; shaping the hearts and minds of my kids. I have asked myself many times, “At the end of the day, what do I really want my kids to have learned today?” School work, sports, and piano are all important, but they pale in comparison to the answer: That they are loved and valued in our family and their identity, value, and dignity come from God. When I look at the day through that lens, then it gives me the patience to sit down with my kids and work through a disagreement, rather then just telling them to stop fighting. It helps me to really listen to them when they voice their opinions and desires instead of reacting in an authoritarian way that comes more naturally to me. I can help them see how the way they treat our family is practice for the way they treat others outside of our family. This is so important to me because in our culture today, I feel like people have lost sight of the dignity and value of others, and sometimes of even their own. If I can shape my children to look at others as made in the image of God, just as they are, then I hope that will influence how they interact with people on a daily basis. Make no mistake, there are days when everything seems to be going wrong and no one is more short tempered and frustrated than I am, but even on those days, it gives me the opportunity to say I’m sorry to my children and show them that we all need God’s grace. But no matter what mistakes are made, what school work is accomplished, or what happens out on the sports field, I want my children to know they have a safe place in our home and they are valued. I believe this will impact them for the rest of their lives and how they live out their own faith in the world.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Photography is my favorite creative outlet and I really do feel honored that people choose me to capture some of the most important moments of their lives. I have captured weddings, engagements, births, newborn moments, graduations, quinceañeras, and multiple generations in family sessions. When I think about the photos I take as becoming part of a family’s history and legacy, it is such a privilege for me to share in that moment. My photography business grew from a very modest place. My husband and I loved taking pictures on our travels and always had a camera in our hands. Once my first son was born I began taking pictures of him, and then friends began asking me to take pictures of their kids. I never really expected it to grow into what it has become, but I just kept saying yes, and taking the opportunities that were placed in front of me. I quickly realized I had a lot to learn and started following other photographers whose work I admired and started to learn from them. It took me a while to hone in on my own style and define what my work would look like. It took me even longer to believe in my self and get past the imposter syndrome – feeling like I wasn’t a “real” photographer because it wasn’t what I had been trained in. Now I feel confident in telling my clients that I will capture candid and timeless moments for them. I truly love working with my amazing clients, and of course, what is not to love about a gorgeous wedding?!
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.
My family is a complete outdoors family, so when people come to visit us, a trip to the beach is a must! I really love going to some of the smaller coves in Laguna Beach for the stunning scenery. It’s easy to spend a long afternoon beside the bluffs that meet the ocean, splashing in the waves and keeping an eye out for seals and sea lions playfully poking their heads out of the water. My boys also love surfing, boogie boarding, and skim boarding at Bolsa Chica beach, and I love all the people watching as I walk along the bike path. We live in Fullerton and like to explore the extensive trails and paths that criss cross our city. We often pack up bikes, or just go for a family walk along the trails. The kids love looking for animals and just being out in nature. There are also a lot of beautiful photography spots along these trails. I also like to go to the local farmer’s markets in Fullerton to shop local and get great produce! Downtown Fullerton has some really great boutiques and shops like Share and Do good that are fun to peruse and your shopping supports a good cause. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would be really lost in my parenting and my photography career without my husband, Brian. He is the pinnacle of patience and grace in our family and has taught me so much about communication. He also encouraged me in my career switch from being a classroom teacher to a photographer, always having confidence in me and forever being my tech help.
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