Everyday Icons: The Soulful Photographer

Find out what makes photographer extraordinaire Bonnie Tsang tick - along with her insightful perspective on the myth of work/life balance.

Image Credit: Venise Tsang

Photographer Bonnie Tsang knows what it means to live an inspired life. A single, working mother to a budding 9-year-old photographer herself, Bonnie takes on the world with a giving heart and mindful spirit. Today, we're so pleased to introduce you to Bonnie and gain her thoughtful insights on careers, family and the myth of work/life balance:

Growing up, you wanted to be a fashion designer and are now a professional photographer. What has your creative path looked like thus far, with all of the detours and forks along the way?

I think life itself is full of detours and forks.  Imagine if we only had one straight path, we'd just keep going and going... eventually to crash and burn, you know?  As an artist, I've learned to appreciate those creative blocks because they've forced me to stop and think, "Ok. Is this project meaningful? Does it help me grow as an artist?" When I am in tune with those questions, facing detours or forks or road blocks are easier.  In fact, I might not even notice I'm being taken on a different path!

You have the most impeccable eye for design and style. How have you fostered this over the years? What is your personal style philosophy?

I was fortunate to be born into a family filled with artists.  My Dad and my brother are photographers, my Mom draws and my sister is in the music industry. My siblings and I were brought up in an artistic environment and my parents always encourage us to explore and see what's out there.  With that, I've developed the hunger to know more and stay in touch with the culture.  My personal style philosophy is to stay true to yourself.

You raise your sweet daughter Venise on your own, which comes with a unique set of work/life balance challenges. How do you manage this juggle?

This seems to be the ultimate question for all working parents.  I think there's a misconception on "balance" and most of us think it's about choosing between family life and work.  To me, family always comes first.  If I use a scale as the metaphor, then the base of the scale is my family - it's what centers me.  The only things I really have to balance are my personal time and work.

What have been a few pinch-me moments in your career?

Hmm... Probably when Martha Stewart Wedding magazine contacted me for images?  It was only a year after I got into the industry and I replied their email with a lot of "!!!".  A friend said to me, "Stay grounded, be thankful and don't get too excited." I've used that mentality throughout my career.  So there might be a lot more pinch-me moments, but I don't think about them as much as when I was younger.

Clementine Daily is a space for women who believe in embracing simple pleasures, setting realistic expectations and bettering their lives to better the lives around them. In your eyes, how do you fit in with that mission?

Oh, I believe I fit in perfectly!  Especially in recent years, I've took time to look inward and be conscious of what is a meaningful life to me.  A meaningful life, to me, is being able to enjoy an ice cream cone with my daughter, challenge myself in different areas of life and career one step at a time and helping others through the experiences I've had.  I feel fulfilled being able to do all of that.

If you had to sum up the life of a photographer in one sentence, what would it be? What advice would you give to a budding photographer?

That's a tough one because there are many types of photographers.  But to sum up


life as a photographer, I'd say that I'm just a contributor to the history of our culture and society.  Advice to a budding photographer - Let go of the ego, assist different types of photographers without the mentality of "I'm just here to build my portfolio."  You'll learn a lot more just by watching how a seasoned photographer works.

You're forced to choose a style uniform for the next 30 days. What's your go-to outfit?

Black loose fitted tank, black skinny jeans and white/yellow converse.

What is your personal motto or mantra?

"There's no excuse for anything, it's rather you do it or not."

What are five everyday items you can't bear to live without?

Lip balm, hand cream, eye cream, iPhone and Kindle.

p.s. Have a multi-faceted modern woman you admire? Tweet us your “Everyday Icon” – we’d love to meet her!