Hi there! I'm Andrea Bell and I am a freelance photographer, nontraditional pre-med student, & mama from Dayton, Ohio. I've been blogging sporadically since 2008 and have never mastered the art of a clever bio. I asked my good friend, Justine of "This Little Place," to ask me some questions:
WHO ARE THE HANDSOME MANS IN YOUR LIFE?
My sons! Being a single mom is hard work, but my sons are also my fuel to move forward + drink in each day with a grateful attitude. I've done my life in a different order than most people, but we've adapted together as a team. I call these years the "Golden Age," from "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." It's a fantastic season of all of us commuting together each morning, book bags and lunches in tow, that I treasure.
Kevin is ten and I love learning about who he is and listening to his ideas. He is always happiest when he is creating something- and I'm such a fan of his work. Whether it's a handmade grappling hook or a Cyclops visor, he is always ambitious about his inventions. He enjoys science and I try to encourage his interests but also let him be a ten year old. He holds the door for me when I have groceries and likes walking around Wright State with me to see where I go to class- I mean- to play Pokémon Go. We are both in a full blown "Harry Potter," obsession and it's so much fun to share the excitement. He keeps me honest when I can't remember the difference between a manta ray and a sting ray. He insists I sing him to sleep & it is my honor. He is in fifth grade and started playing cello this year.
Damian is feisty & sweet. He likes to tell terrible knock knock jokes and we have regular staring contests. His sense of humor is awesome. I think he sees the world as a big obstacle course, and I video his "American Ninja Warrior" moves when he asks me to. He loves to help me in the yard pulling weeds and we have fond memories working together. Mornings suite him and he likes to tell me stories about his dreams. He is taking after his brother and is a regular book worm. I like that they both still like to hear "Fox in Socks" before bed, (and so far I still read it the fastest). Damian likes his dinosaurs to be tall and fast. He brags that gym is his favorite subject. He is so resilient that he inspires me. Even though he is six, I will hold him until I can't anymore. He answers to "Ocean." I'll tell you about it sometime. He is in first grade.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR? The flavor is just a detail, it is more important where we go for it! My family is from Findlay, and we try to make a point to visit 'Dietsch Brothers' when we visit their strawberry shakes make me feel like a little girl again and their distinct flavor is everything good about how I grew up. Since I'm an Ohio girl, I also favor 'Jeni's' anytime I can have it.
WHAT IS IN YOUR NETFLIX QUE? Hahaha, my sons have taken over that! By the time I find something to watch I am bored from searching. I also feel anxious about the fact that I should probably be reading or studying instead of watching tv- so I try to avoid it. We do really like "Stranger Things" right now!
FAVORITE CAMERA? My jokingly 'vintage' iPhone 4. (Now replaced with an iPhone 6). Though I laugh at how old it is, it actually taught me a lot about photography & light because of its simplicity. Professionally, I prefer my Nikon cameras & Nikkor lenses.
WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT DAYTON TO YOU? HOW HAS IT HELPED SHAPE YOU AS AN ARTIST? Dayton has been my home for many years. Although I have always wanted to move outside of the midwest, it is a great place to be a photographer & student. I couldn't imagine living anywhere else to raise my sons. I've been fortunate to network with many up and coming businesses who are taking risks & chasing their dreams. We are a small town, so we are able to be more visible to our clients & many of us are proud of the restorative movement we are part of here. It feels like a slow awakening that is gaining momentum as we take ownership of the beauty & potential in this town. In more literal terms, I am a Sinclair alum and the Visual Communications program gave me a chance to explore myself as an artist in an applicable career. It prepared me to be the photographer I have become. Now that I've returned to Wright State, I'm constantly impressed with how it has changed since my first classes there. It feels like a new campus, and the faculty have been so supportive of my interests. I feel lucky to be a student again.
WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU DO? The nice thing about being a photographer is the variety of assignments I can pursue. I have been photographing weddings & occasional portraits in a boutique fashion since 2009. My original background is in graphic design, so I also have found a niche in working with local (women) owned businesses to help with their online brand development as well as product & commercial photography. I love the challenge of translating their story, hard work, & identity into a visual story. Some of my clients are Confetti, Skin Food by Aubrey, and Taylor Monroe. Understanding design has been a large advantage in establishing my own branding & creating my own websites- like 'Tether & Fly!' I also spent some time as a newborn photographer at a couple local hospitals. I am proudly a newborn baby whisperer.
Frosted sweets & pretty cake stands will continue to be a motif that represent a part of myself that I will always love dearly. Wayne Thiebaud & Bill Cunningham are among my favorite inspirations.
IF YOU WEREN'T A PHOTOGRAPHER, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING? That is a question I have tried to answer for many years, because photography was one of many interests that intrigued me. For a time, it was a toss up whether I'd open a bake shop or commit to taking pictures. The first wedding I photographed, I also baked the cake. Not a good idea, and never doing that again.
When Damian started kindergarten, I also started classes again. It was perfect timing to finish my bachelor of science degree in psychology at Wright State. Returning to college has rekindled my interest in helping people with neurological disorders and mental illness, so I am working on (eventually) attending medical school. I am fascinated by the way we are wired underneath our skin- so I'm working on a concentration in behavioral neuroscience. The more I learn, the more curious I become.
It's a bit of a hike until I reach medical school, so I am still balancing freelance photography in my schedule: AndreaBelleStudios.com