Tricia Messeroux is someone I worked with for a long time in the ad world before I knew she was a photographer. Back then taking pictures was a passionate side project but since her latest venture, Toddlewood has taken off, her love of photography is fast becoming the main event. I talked to Tricia about how she got started and what comes next.
What is Toddlewood? Toddlewood is a photography experiment where we transform city kids into superstars, celebrities, and historic legends to be captured in iconic photographs. Audrey Hepburn, Donald Trump, Run DMC- anyone is fair game. I work with an amazing group of costume designers, hair and make-up artists, and a production crew to help bring the images to life. The kids, of course, have a blast.
What inspired you to start Toddlewood? I've always loved shooting portraits of people but when my daughter, Skylar was born she became my favorite subject yet. When she turned three and I was surrounded by all of her amazing and unique friends, I knew I had to do something special with them. They were constantly raiding my closet and playing dress-up which is what sparked the idea.
What does Toddlewood fulfill for you? When I was a corporate executive, I was responsible for business and marketing decisions but not necessarily the creative execution. With Toddlewood, I get to have free reign over my own creative product.
How did you get the word out there? I put out a casting call for children all over the Tri-State area in February of 2008. Initially I was shocked at the response, but then again, everyone wants to have professional pictures taken of their kids! Shooting began in April of 2008 and the first Toddlewood exhibit launched in April 2009.
When did you realize this could take off? After the very first photo shoot. The reactions of the families were incredible. It was just so much fun for everyone involved! After the first couple of shoots the chatter began and I found myself fielding email submissions left and right. Then I had my first Toddlewood show in May of 2009 and was amazed at the turnout. It just snowballed from there.
What is your philosophy on balancing work, family and creativity? It can be overwhelming at times but I just know I have to get it all done by any means necessary. I have an extremely supportive husband and a daughter who is by my side at all times. Skylar is five now and loves coming on the shoots and making friends with the subjects. It's important to me that she feels like my partner in Toddlewood instead of slighted by it.
What is the future of Toddlewood? This year I am producing a coffee table book, calendars, and a Toddlewood Sport t-shirt line featuring my photographs. Part of the proceeds for the product line helps support children's health causes like the American Cancer Society's Camp Adventure, St. Jude Children's Hospital and One for Jasmina. I plan to have another photo exhibit next year and I'd love to take it on tour. I'm also envisioning a ready-to-wear, semi-formal couture line that would launch in Spring 2011. Maybe even a Toddlewood flagship store! I know I dream big but that's part of my philosophy. Just move forward and keep your fingers crossed.