Valerie Metz has quite the range. A photographer who grew up visiting South America, her images have a strong sense of place. She also runs a photography business, The Beloved Photo, capturing beautiful moments for families. Valerie's personal instagram feed is oh-so Southern Californian with its delicious sense of color and style, and she also founded Llama Folk, a shop featuring ethically-sourced, handmade goods for baby and home. But most impressively to us (and she really raises the bar), Valerie is a thoughtful and conscientious mom who doesn't shy away from tough subjects. What can we say? She's a true gem.
traveling is so, so important to my family
I grew up in the high desert of Southern California, but I also count Brazil and Peru as home! We spent every summer out there growing up, renting a house in both countries and eventually owning a house in Peru.
Growing up in a small town, I always felt a little "weird" for being darker than my friends and speaking more than one language—it was something I was very self-conscious of—but I have learned to embrace it more and more throughout the years. I am so thankful to have grown up with parents who chose to speak to me in Spanish and Portuguese and exposed me to different cultures. Traveling is so, so important to my family and now I make it a point to prioritize that in my own family.
My husband and I both appreciate experience. We don't spend much on physical things or shopping or anything—we would rather spend our time and money on trips and experiences as a family. My husband grew up in Japan so he equally values travel as much as I do.
i would spend hours in my room
Traveling actually sparked my love for photography! I always brought a camera with me on any trip and immediately made prints and my own photo albums. I would spend hours in my room cutting photos, glueing, taping, etc. Growing up with this as a hobby definitely fed the artist in me. I had always known I loved taking photos but I never thought I could make a career out of it! The journey has been very exciting and fulfilling so far. I can see my work change and grow because I am changing and growing as an artist.
there is a true art in how they shoot
A lot of my influence comes from movie directors and how they portray their cinematography. A few of my favorites are Quentin Tarantino and Wes Anderson—there is a true art in how they shoot. I can tell from a movie still and colors that it is their own art. Old music, old photographs and Latin culture inspire me as well.
becoming a mom has brought me healing
My sweet little family lives in Costa Mesa, California. We are two miles from the beach and spend any sunny day in the sand and water. We have one son (for now), Hendrix Lou, and he brings us so much life! He has such a strong personality in a teeny two-year-old body and we love watching his personality unravel day-by-day. The biggest surprise about motherhood is how redemptive it is. Despite the positive experiences I mentioned earlier about my childhood, it was also really rough growing up with an emotionally disconnected and verbally abusive father. Becoming a mom has brought me healing in a way I didn't think I needed.
our family needs a healthy, consistent routine
My husband had a very positive childhood and encouraging parents who supported him in anything. His mom is his best friend and they remain very close, which allows me to have a healthy relationship with her (which I know is not the case with most in-laws). However, my childhood was a little rougher in some ways and I suffered a lot during my teen/early adult years because of the way I grew up. I don't agree with the way I was disciplined and I am aware of the anxiety and trauma it caused in me, so I am very careful with how we raise Hendrix. At the end of the day, our family needs a healthy, consistent routine (especially for a business owner) and we choose to correct and discipline with love, but also understanding/explanation. I hope that Hendrix grows up feeling heard, allows himself to heal from conflict, but also learn to grow from it and learn the sentiment to do the right thing.
i'm thankful that i get to grow as an artist here
Thoughts on California? WE LOVE IT. We can't imagine living anywhere else (except Mexico or Peru) and love living so close to the ocean. We definitely have to sacrifice a lot of financial security for the area we're in but to us, it's worth it. I also don't think my career would be as successful outside of where we live, so I'm thankful that I get to grow as an artist here. California is special because you can drive to the snow and beach in one day. I always joke and say we pay so much for nice weather but it's so true. I take Hendrix to the beach literally all year round—you can't do that anywhere else (except Hawaii)!
We're always on the go
Some qualities I look for in baby products are practicality and durability. If I'm investing in a product for Hendrix, I want to make sure it's going to be used in an everyday sense and can also be used for our next baby. One of our priorities is having a compact but sturdy stroller, especially since we travel so much as a family. Having something light and easy to fold is a plus since we're always on the go!
Valerie is using the Peli stroller in Daffodil.
Outstanding interview! Valerie is an amazing women- mother , wife , artist and the best DIL in the world!