Ilene Squires | Unconventional Motherhood


Name: Ilene Squires LaCourt
Location: Los Angeles + NYC

Company: Ilene Squires Photography


Tell us how you got started?

I studied film and advertising in school but after a disheartened internship on Madison Ave in the early 2000's and a year of smoking hashish and reading all the great revolutionary biographies in Spain, I decided I was gonna follow an altruistic path and join an organization called Teach For America in NYC. I had no idea how illustrious this organization was (they recruit the top 20% of every graduating class of the top 10 universities in the country) and where it would lead me. I spent the next decade working in and around NYC schools and the summers off allowed me to travel a lot and one thing was constant on my adventures - my camera. I loved photographing people so I began going to photography school in the evenings at The International Center of Photography, another world class organization. It was there that I began to apprentice for an event photographer and in 2013, when I finally turned a profit with my photo business, I left schools for good. I've never looked back!

Tell us the inspiration behind this series.

In the last 3 years, I've had two kids and moved across the country. To say that this challenged my identity is an understatement. I began exploring this idea of 'mompreneurship' because I was so curious about how other mompreneurs made their freelance careers work for them. Social media can be very deceiving when looking for 'success.'

Which woman did you resonate with the most and why?

Jen Cunningham is a friend of mine (she does my hair) but I really liked what she said about filling your bucket first so you can be a better friend/mom/wife/worker and overall human. This is simple advice but we often take it for granted. I am alway at the top of my game when I've 'done me' first. Personally, I have to schedule this time into my day just as I would a phone call or doctor's appointment.


How has motherhood shifted your view on life and career?

Becoming a mom has made me laser focused on the time I actually have left in my day to work on my business and take care of myself. Subsequently, it has also made me revaluate many of my friendships because there simply just isn't enough time in the day to spend on relationships that aren't reciprocal.

“Having kids is like constantly looking in a mirror and taking a temperature check on where you're at in life.“

How do you maintain the identity you had before children?

Having kids is like constantly looking in a mirror and taking a temperature check on where you're at in life. This exercise also holds true with old friends and family members too. When I feel like my compass is falling astray, I try to schedule some time with people who have known me a long time (my mother, my aunts, my BFFs from junior high, a FT with my freelance sisters in NYC). This always help bring me back down to Earth because the truth is that these inner circle folk knew me before I knew me. And they could give two s*its about how much money I make or how notorious I am. Time with them refreshes my browser.

What are two things you want your daughter’s to learn from you?

To be financially independent and to be citizens of the world. I have been to 34 countries and I didn't get on a plane for the first time until I was 17! I am a real wanderluster and these kids have both already flown multiple times. I hope they always stay curious and humble.


With two kids and a thriving business, taking time for yourself must be scarce, what are some life hacks that work for you to keep grounded?

Planning is essential to avoiding disaster as a mom. For example, I pack my daughter's bags for school and the sitter the night before and I try to wake up at least 30 minutes before everyone so I am not thinking impulsively and in haste. I'm a list maker so I keep a pen and journal next to my bed so I can get it all out before bed and I can preserve any important ideas for the future. I meal prep for a couple hours each Sunday to make weeknight dinners less stressful and try to hit the grocery store or Farmer's Market on the same day. I schedule exercise to be combined with catching up with colleagues and friends - we live in LA! You can hike year round and this way I kill two birds with one stone!

What’s in store for 2019?

Evolving with what the market ask for is the best direction for any business. I've found LA to be a wee bit crowded as a Photographer but many of my clients have been inquiring about video. I am on learning curve right now (it's steep) but def more video and more campaigns.