I’ve started the In Good Company portion of the Dakota Uprising initiative because I think it’s important to highlight the creative and good souls of our area. I love putting the spotlight on other people, hearing their stories, and learning from their experiences. If you’d like to know about these souls too, read on my friends.
Tara Rose Weston is someone who instantly caught my eye on Instagram. Her photos are rich and soulful. Her vision is unique. I want to toss myself into her images on a regular basis, feeling the serenity and peace that she undoubtedly felt while she captured the photo.
Name: Tara Rose Weston
Any nicknames? My husband calls me Rose and my family calls me “Teb”.
Birthday: September 20th
Where are you from? Kyle, SD
Where do you live now? Rapid City, SD
Tell me about your business (or hobby).
I started my business, then “The Loving Rose Photography”, in 2012. Last year, I started making short films and started a blog. This year, I renamed to Tara Rose Co. and built a website that I’m really proud of. I try to concentrate on fashion and working with models to build their portfolios, but I also do a lot of family portraits and surreal work, which I really enjoy.
What is a typical day like for you?
No two days are exactly the same for me; sometimes I’m chasing an article or story for Powwows.com, attending an event and getting photos for Native Max Magazine or I’m out doing a shoot and exploring. Most days I’m simply working from home and spending time with my husband and daughter.
What is one favorite thing you thoroughly enjoy about your job (or hobby)?
Being self employed means being able to set your own hours, (and sometimes, working overtime until 3 a.m. to meet deadlines), but I love that I can work from literally anywhere.
This Spring, I was working on ad campaign for the Oglala Sioux Tribe, while having back to back senior portrait sessions, editing every second that I could and traveling for Native Max. It definitely tested my willpower and I even contemplated giving up when it got hard, but I made it through! Now I miss being that busy.
List three random things you use/eat/drink/watch/read/listen/do on a daily basis.
I drink tons of water, so a water bottle is necessary. I also use my iPad to work on the go, edit and use as a portable portfolio to show my work to potential clients. I am also addicted to Pretty Little Liars, which I’m re-watching on Netflix for the millionth time, so that serves as suitable background noise when I’m getting some work done.
Tell me one thing about you that (maybe) no one knows.
I know people back home and my family know, but a lot of my colleagues probably don’t know that I was a cheerleader and gymnast growing up and through high school! I’ve also held multiple powwow princess titles, including Miss Oglala Nation 2009-2010.
Where is your favorite spot in the Black Hills region?
Definitely the Sylvan Lake/Harney Peak area. There are so many trails, amazing scenery and a good place to swim when it’s 95+ degrees out like today.
What inspires you most about the Black Hills area?
I’ve always loved how at home I feel in the hills. It’s where my people’s creation and origin stories come from, where our sacred sites are and you cannot deny that it is just downright breathtaking.
Tell me one little, favorite story from your adventures in the Black Hills.
The first time I hiked Harney Peak last year with my husband, we were almost to the top when I noticed movement in my peripheral vision, so I look to see a deer only a few feet from me looking right at me and then just casually go about its business of munching on leaves or whatever it was eating. The wildlife know that they’re safe up there, it was pretty amazing.
Name one amazing place to eat in the Black Hills and why you love it.
It’s more of the southern hills area, but I LOVE JP’s in Hot Springs! They have an amazing Philly sandwich.
What’s your favorite trail and why?
I don’t really have a favorite trail, but I would really like to find Poet’s Table!
What’s one lesson you’ve learned about adventuring in the Black Hills?
Always be aware of your surroundings and be respectful of the land.
What is one impression you wish you could change about the Black Hills?
Oh, definitely the tourist geared attractions. Being Native American, I’m obviously more sensitive to outright ignorance, but some of the establishments I simply cannot believe people pay to see!
How does living in the Black Hills impact your life (or creativity or business)?
Moving to Rapid from the Reservation opens up a lot more opportunities for locations and exploring. Everything is within a half hour or an hour of here, and there are so many creative people that I cannot wait to connect with.
Tell me one thing about the Black Hills that (maybe) no one knows.
Hmm… Well, something I can say is that the Black Hills are very sacred to our and all indigenous people, so it’s quite possible to very experience powerful feelings. It’s an entirely different world up there.
Being Creative / Leaving a Legacy
Is there anyone in the community that you turn to for inspiration, advice, or creative collaboration?
I’ve never really collaborated with anyone; I’m an Ambivert and my Introverted side dictates my professional attitude, so I’ve always felt that I had to do things by myself. That mindset has protected me from individuals who try and attach themselves to my business, (we all know those people!) so it’s helped.
Have you had any mentors along the way?
I definitely look up to the photographers that work on my reservation, like Jerry Matthews, who’s been an invaluable resource and I actually bought one of his old cameras last year when my t3i gave out.
Have you ever taken a big risk for yourself or your life or your business? Was it worth it?
One of the big risks that I recently took was completely rebranding my entire business. I went from simply doing photography to incorporating my brand films, graphic design and blogging to being a key part of what I do. There’s been a huge response and my audience has responded very well to the change.
What’s your best advice in?
My best advice to anyone that is considering pursuing his or her own business or creative career is to INVEST IN YOURSELF. It takes so much more work to start from rock bottom than it does to work with an established individual, but it’s worth it. Get a good laptop, something you can carry with and will let you work from anywhere, software for whatever path you’re pursuing, like editing, music, motion, etc. and never underestimate the power of social media, 95% of my clients come from either Facebook or Instagram.
Are you creatively satisfied?
I don’t know if I will ever be creatively satisfied! Once I start working on idea, I have to get it done immediately. I’m awake until 3 or 4 a.m. outlining projects and then back up again at 7 a.m. getting ready to go out and shoot.
What could the Black Hills use more of?
Definitely more collective groups such as this one and meet ups for photographers! We need a good community to turn to and I would definitely love to see a collaborative/shared workspace in Rapid City for all of the creatives.
Do you feel an obligation to contribute to something greater than yourself? What could that possibly be?
I would love for the entertainment and fashion world to see that Native Americans are more than just a headdress and hyper sexualized excuse to wear fake feathers. We have some of the most beautiful, talented and hardworking people in the industry, but we’re overlooked due to stereotyping.
My dream has been to start an all Native modeling agency and establish in New York and LA and represent around the world. If someone does that before me, then I hope to be able to shoot for them.
What type of legacy do you hope to leave?
Given that I haven’t been doing this for very long, it always comes as a surprise when I’m approached by more experienced creatives or commissioned for a big project. Sometimes I doubt my ability and I’ve had to decline a few amazing opportunities due to being overworked, stressed out and simply not having the time. The fact that I can say that is unbelievable to me!
I would hope that because of that, people know and see that it is possible to accomplish whatever you set your mind to. With hard work and determination, you can make a career out of your hobby.
Show Tara some love: