One woman’s light-hearted approach to spreading joy during trying times
WRITTEN BY LOIS MCBROOM | PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF ANDREA BAUMANN
IT WOULD NOT BE UNUSUAL to find Andrea Baumann behind a camera. She’s the owner of True Photography & Design, with a studio located at the Franklin Arts Center in Brainerd, Minnesota. Her award-winning portfolio has satisfied many clients throughout the Brainerd Lakes Area.
If you’ve ever been lucky enough to work with Baumann, you will quickly discern she has a fantastic talent for capturing the individual personalities of graduating seniors, as well as the heart of what makes for a great family portrait. With a background as a graphic designer & art director, Baumann’s eye for the perfect shot or backdrop often seems effortless.
Springtime is usually a busy time of year for Baumann. During a typical year, her schedule would be quickly filling up with photo sessions for the coming year. Like most of us, though, Baumann’s spring didn’t follow the norm. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she had to remain outside of her studio per stay-at-home orders.
In the early days of the pandemic, Baumann didn’t allow her camera to get much of a break. During early morning walks, she would often discover amazing displays of mother nature. Taking advantage of reflections and light, kaleidoscopes of color came to life through her photography. Her beautiful images were a welcomed respite from the craziness of COVID-19. Life as we knew it felt like it was changing before we even had time to turn the page, and her photos permitted us to push the pause button in an evolving environment. Baumann showed us and encouraged us to find ways to look through the lens of life a little differently. Yes, this virus is ugly, but there is still plenty of beauty to be seen—if only we take the time to notice it.
On March 28th, I received a notification that Baumann had posted more photos, and, as usual, I expected to find new images from her journey that morning. To my surprise, that was not what I found. Baumann wasn’t behind the camera at all. This time, she was in front of it. Officially declaring it “Fancy Friday,” there she was! Baumann was dressed in a sleek, black dress with jeweled accessories and red lipstick. In one hand she held a frying pan, and in the other, a spatula. Giving credit to her youngest son for taking the photo, she simply stated, “Hope this made you laugh!” It did. In fact, over two hundred people chimed in with their resounding approvals.
The following Friday, Baumann showed up for us all again. This time she wore a gold, metallic dress and had perfectly curled hair. She was outdoors in this photo—wearing knee-high black, rubber boots while picking up dog droppings with a pooper scooper in her yard. Her message for Fancy Friday was, “Smile people, we’re one day closer to normal than we were yesterday!”
I can assure you that every day wasn’t a banner day for Baumann. She faced hardships, such as distance learning with two children at home and trying to find a “new normal.” She admitted that some days were harder than others to pull off the comfy sweatpants, do her hair and makeup, and put on a fancy formal dress—but she did it nonetheless.
You see, something transformative was happening through these silly posts of hers. She brought a moment of levity, a break in the week, a moment to linger in light-hearted shenanigans. She made a difference for those of us who needed her next “Fancy Friday” post.
We all know the saying, “The best things in life are free.” I feel this is a perfect example of that. It didn’t take money to do what Baumann did. She invested her creativity and time, and the only return she hoped was to bring a little happiness to others. Those, my friends, are the gifts that don’t come with a price tag. They out-value any form of currency. They are wrapped with hugs, ones you can feel even during social distancing. And they are given with the sole purpose of spreading joy and happiness.