Extraordinary Women - Paige Knudsen

Welcome to another installment of my interview series with 
Extraordinary Women Over the Age of 40.

Today, I'm very excited to share an interview with photographer extraordinaire, Paige Knudsen.
Paige and I met through the blogging world several years ago, and have had the privilege of becoming real life friends as well.

I have long admired Paige and her courageous attitude toward life.  She is an amazing inspiration to me and I just know you'll feel the same way.

Say "Hello" to Paige!

-What was your view of "aging" before you hit your 40's and how has it changed?

 Oh gracious! We’ll start off with aging right out of the gate! I’ll be honest with you, the year I turned 50, my first born daughter married & moved across the world. Well, the United States actually, but it can feel like the world! I live in Georgia & she moved to California. My second moved to Philadelphia for a year for work. Change is often times bittersweet for me & there was a lot of change in a small period of time, which just so happened to be an age milestone as well. 

Having said that, I lost my first husband to cancer when he was 35 & I was only 30.  I remember being vividly aware of hearing people talk about dreading birthdays. I told myself I’d never take a birthday, or aging for that matter, for granted. Sometimes I need a little reminder to be grateful for every year! And to top that, I really don’t think 50 is as old as I used to!  Around the time I turned 50 I was having a conversation with my dad and told him, my goodness why didn’t you tell me that at 50 I’d feel 30. If you’re 70, how old do you feel? Is it still 30?! He laughed!

While there are many days I wish (for a moment) to be a little younger, I am super grateful for my life! I want to be a 'young at heart' senior citizen (one day) & grow old and love on grand babies with my wonderful hubby. We celebrated twenty years of marriage this year & I’d love many many more! Now 70 doesn’t sound old at all!

-What is something you consciously let go of and didn't take with you into your 40's?

When I was in my 40’s I launched two businesses. I left a twenty year career as a pediatric nurse & started my own photography business. I felt brave & empowered & excited for this new journey. Simultaneously I began working with a fair trade jewelry company that was in it’s start up phase. Our four girls were in school & college and there was more freedom in our schedule as well. I was offered so many opportunities to travel with both jobs, which included several trips abroad—my first!- to use my photography skills. It was perhaps my favorite. But I honestly say that about each age…I feel it has truly kept getting better! True story!

-When and how did you realize your passion in life?  Has it changed as you've grown older?

My passion in my 20’s was to care of children with cancer, so I went to nursing school. I wanted to serve them, build relationship with them and their families  & be a positive caring person in their life. In my 30’s I continued that but my passion was really to love on my family. In my 40’s was when I stumbled upon Noonday Collection and really the desire to partner with women globally,  many who were widows as well, to represent their jewelry and other handmade pieces was birthed. Literally the same time I had friends asking if I’d shoot for them. Photography had been a hobby up until then. 

Becoming a photographer has been just another component of that same passion- to love on people, build relationship with them & encourage them. Early in my career as a photographer I was capturing a young mom. The property was gorgeous, the lighting was perfect, there was a breeze blowing, and she was radiant as the sun came out from behind the clouds and gave her the most glorious backlit beauty. I stopped & turned the camera around to show her what I had captured.  I told her she was beautiful & then let her see herself as I saw her. She began to cry.  It was a powerful moment for me to realize I was indeed doing what I was on the earth to do at that moment. I’ll never forget it and honestly while every photoshoot can’t be that epic, I set out for them to be! 

I’ve built relationships with many young families who I’ve photographed the birth of their babies, milestones for them and honestly all celebrations. I just returned from a month in Italy where I was invited to photograph an event. I feel the last 30 years I’ve honestly been able to do what I love and make a living from it as well which is one of life’s greatest gifts!

-What ignited the fire in you to finally "pull the trigger" and pursue your passion?

 I’m fortunate that I’m married to my biggest cheerleader. I was nervous to step out on my own. Photography is an art that someone invests in initially before they see the final piece of work. There must be trust there. I feared -  what if they like my art but don’t like my art of them? We’re our own worst critic aren’t we? Anyways, he said let’s try it for a year & see how it goes. That was eight years ago. Most months I have more work than I can keep up with so I’m eternally grateful to him for believing in me!

-What's one of your best tips for making difficult decisions?

I’m a verbal processor so I really like to talk things out with him when making difficult decisions. My faith is of utmost importance as well so I spend much time in prayer as well.  Thinking through the big picture and trying to step out of the emotional component of a decision and look at things more pragmatically is also important to me. I can tend to want everyone to be happy (especially happy and not mad at me) so I can labor over decisions too-  ha ha!

-Change can be scary.  What helps you overcome any fears/insecurities, or excuse-making, in order to courageously leap onto a new path?

Oh girl, change is scary for me for sure! Can we talk about the Enneagram here? 

We are knee deep in a season of change. Honestly we have been since our oldest of four went to college. Our girls are all close in age therefore it’s been non-stop for several years. My husband will begin a new job, a big career move for him, in two weeks. Our youngest will leave to serve on a mission based gap year for 9 months in just a few weeks. So I’m sitting on what feels like a big cliff looking out on a whole new world…and I’m a little apprehensive 

I’ll be honest! Here again is where I rely on my faith that I know I have a Heavenly Father who will work all things together for my good and his glory. I read scripture and let those promises, that I cling to, wash over me and help change what may be negative thinking into hope filled prayers. It’s very important to me to be an encouragement to others. So I never want to say anything that would make a younger mama worry or fret over this stage of parenting. Even in my 50’s I’m still learning, I’m still curious. I want to have a fresh mindset, I want to be open to do something a new & better way and I always want to be a student! I feel like those things will serve me well in this time ahead where much is changing, and many new thing are on my horizon! I sure don’t want to sound cliche but also just being grateful for opportunities, I think, will help go through new things!

-What do you consider to be your most essential priorities at this point in your life?

While I still feel like a newbie in this stage of life where much is changing I want to be aware of what priorities are essential and if I need to switch gears, be able to do that effectively.  We love our family and want to be a support to and cheer on our girls as they are all in new stages in their lives. I once heard someone say they felt they had the gift of availability. 

While my husband and I both still have full time careers we’d love to be available more for, not only our daughters, but for younger couples. We both want to cheerlead for younger families. Time with Dan has always been a top priority for me. We made the commitment early in marriage when the girls were all quite young that we’d slip away, if even just for a dessert. and we’ve kept date nights and now date weekends a priority ever since. 

-Have you found that you have developed more in your personal style (fashion or interiors - or both!) as you've grown older?  How has it changed/evolved? 

I think Wendy & I  became friends when I went through my declutter stage! I am a collector at heart & hold meaning, value & sentiment to many things. I’m also easily distracted with clutter! The way I most live in both worlds is by changing the little details & decor in our home quite often. While my furniture may be several years old, the things I keep on tables, bookshelves & dressers changes frequently! I have been a big fan of neutral decor with pops of color here & there for quite some time. I really love juxtaposing modern, antiques & some classic style as well!

-Is there a beauty or make-up tip you wish you had learned about earlier?

Is there a beauty tip I wish I had followed earlier? YES…GIRLS!!! Use your sunscreen & moisturize your face every morning & every night!  I use Moroccan oil on my face, I have super dry skin, and love it!  I’ve never ‘done’ anything to my skin professionally to reverse the signs of aging but I sure hope my wrinkles end up more like laugh lines! Is that wishful thinking?  I’m new to having my nails done and I’m really loving that luxury! All the cute water bottles that keep water ice cold has helped me become a much better water drinker!

Isn't she delightful?  Thanks so much Paige!

You can find Paige online here.



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