Molly Zornow’s Madison, Wisconsin home brings the outdoors in. This wedding photographer and creative has crafted an earthy home with clean lines, plenty of green, and an incredible variety of texture.
Throughout college, she worked as an assistant for a wedding photographer while studying art education. After graduating from University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Molly debated between teaching and becoming a photographer full-time. She applied for a job at the high school level and allowed that to be her coin-flip game of chance; if she didn’t get it, photography it was. And this was the beginning of her photography business.
Continue reading to hear more about how Molly decorated her home, life in Wisconsin, and the daily life of a wedding photographer.
Name: Molly Zornow
Current job/company: Wedding Photographer and Owner of Molly Jo Collection
Education: University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Degree in Art Education
You decided to take on photography full time after you graduated college. What was that transition like?
Considering I wasn’t working full-time, the transition was pretty smooth. I didn’t have a job to quit and I didn’t have that blanket of security to leave. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. The summer after graduation I photographed weddings on the weekends and also taught high school art for summer school so when people asked that ever so popular question, “So, where are you working?” I had a “legit” answer to give. It took a while to confidently say that my job was to photograph weddings.
What does a typical week look like for you?
You’re going to laugh, but a typical week for me is does not look the prettiest! Monday through Friday, I roll out of bed and head straight to my desktop for emails, edits, blogging, etc. When Sam comes home from work, he usually finds me in the office surrounded by papers and clipboards, hair a mess, a jar of peanut butter with a spoon dipped inside on my desk, still in my PJ’s and 90’s jock jams spitting beats from Pandora. Once he’s home, I do my best to call my work daydone, too. It can be hard to peel myself away from work, but I know that I also need some sort of structured schedule or frankly, I’d rarely see daylight! Then I shower and throw on yet another pair of sweatpants. Yes, I do declare that jeans are now used as dress up clothes.
It is common for me to have a few engagement sessions during the week, along with Friday and Saturday wedding days or “double header” as we like to call them! Wedding days can certainly be long, but they are filled with so much joy, energy, emotion, and love. I am definitely that sappy wedding photographer who needs windshield wipers for the back of my camera. I cry a lot.
Best moment of your career so far?
This is a tough one! Witnessing promises and delivering images of a couple’s most important day is so rewarding. I have had a front row seat to some amazing moments these past few years. But if I had to pick one, it would be at the end of last year. I had a New Year’s Eve wedding day, the 34th wedding that year and grand finale of 2014. The couple invited me and my boyfriend to stay for the party after I was off the clock and we had such a great time. There was a balloon drop, midnight kisses, glitter, party hats, the whole shebang.
It was the end of a great year and my first successful year in business. It was the end of a year where I felt proud and felt like I was beginning to really get the hang of things. Before that year, there was some doubt, lots of questions, and feelings of not being right for the industry. Last year was a great one, and the party at the end of it all to celebrate was just fun!
What are some of your favorite things about living in Wisconsin?
There are so many great things about Wisconsin. I love to travel, I love to see the oceans and the mountains and cityscapes, but Wisconsin always feels like home. The people here are the best. Everyone is so kind and gracious. We love going to the lake, sitting by campfires, drinking Old Fashioneds, going to fish fries, and festivals. We go to a lot of sporting events; the Packers, Badgers, or Brewers are on TV anywhere you go. Life here is pretty simple. You spend time with family and your best friends probably grew up down the road from you.
Tell us about your apartment hunt. What were some items on your wish list? How did you know this was the one?
Sam’s job came about pretty quickly. We had one day planned to go to Madison and look at places, and knew we had to make a decision that day. We honestly had no clue where to really look, so to narrow down our choices, we chose to stay within 10 miles of his work address. We toured three places that day and fell in love with the open concept of this one. We signed the papers and here we are!
How did you approach the decorating process? Did you have an overall look that you wanted to achieve or did you fill your home with pieces that you love over time?
We really just started with the essentials. We didn’t have a couch or kitchen table prior to moving in, so we hopped on Craigslist, found ourselves a neutral couch and painted a table and chairs white so that they matched. After that, we just filled it with things that we liked. I would say that I definitely appreciate clean lines and eclectic style, so I would say that our decor somewhat represents those things.
We love your office! Tell us a little bit about decorating the space.
Why, thank you! I wanted to litter the space with things that inspire me since I am creating in here each day. Pouring things into the space that reflect my style also helps me to hone in my style and brand for my business. I wanted to keep the desk, shelving, folders, drawing boards, etc. around the perimeter of the room knowing that I like open floor space for projects, crafting and putting together client gifts. When looking for an apartment, I knew I needed two bedrooms, one for sleeping, one for my office. Because I am addicted to my work and love what I do, I needed a room where I could leave and shut the door once my day is done. If my computer were to be out in the open, you bet I would be editing day and night.
What are your tips for decorating on a budget?
Don’t be afraid to go used! In a world where there is so much inspiration online, it is easy to want the latest and greatest striped rug and white desk chair. Trends and styles will come and go and for someone on a budget, keeping up with the newest things can be tricky and draining to that piggy bank. Keep the big pieces neutral and if your style changes or you want a new look, get a new lampshade, change the photos in your frames or purchase fun patterned slip covers for your couch pillows. Print photos from vacation for your walls or paint your favorite quote and put it into a matted white frame. Make your space reflect you!
What is your favorite part of your home?
We have a sectional couch and sometimes if we’re feeling a lazy day coming on, we’ll turn the two pieces into each other to make a giant couch bed and watch Netflix all day. I also love my office. It’s the first one I’ve ever had and makes me feel like a businesswoman.
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
Travel. Everywhere. Bring your camera, grow as a person, figure out public transportation, try new foods, and call mom every day to talk about it.
Molly Zornow is The Everygirl…
You’re going to hate me. I don’t drink coffee (Right?). When I go to Starbucks, I opt for hot cocoa or a refresher. Those things are dang good!
Perfect way to unwind?
Go to my dad’s, sit in his garage and chat with him. He’s always good for a Jack’s pizza and a good laugh.
Obsessed with Bachelor/Bachelorette. For real, obsessed.
Perfect day in Madison?
We just recently discovered the Terrace! A hot spot right on the water with live music, food trucks and local beer. I would literally sit there all day long.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order?
Definitely Ellen DeGeneres. She’s all about seeing the good and doing good things. And, of course, she’s hilarious. We would probably have breakfast food for lunch because let’s face it, it just tastes better.
Floral Pillows, Target
Green Velvet Pillows, Homemade by mom (Material from JoAnn Fabrics)
Faux Fur Pillows, World Market
Black and White Pillow, Target
End Table, IKEA
White Photo Frames / Gallery Wall, Target
Gallery Wall Prints, photos from travels and hand drawn pieces
Map, framed by Hobby Lobby
Suitcase Record Player, Urban Outfitters
Table and Chairs, thrifted and painted white
Vase, Hobby Lobby
Wooden Shelf, handcrafted by grandpa
Black and White Photo Frame, Target
Woven Basket, Hobby Lobby
Copper Canisters, antique from Memories Antique Mall
Album Crate, antique from Memories Antique Mall
Geometric Terrarium, Hobby Lobby
Cribbage Board, homemade by dad
“Everything” Wooden Bowl, thrifted
Cutting Board, Home Goods
Polkadot Smock, Grandma’s smock
“Dont go bacon my heart” artwork, homemade
Coffee Canister, Gordmans
Rug, Urban Outfitters
Garland, Hobby Lobby
Small Copper Crate, H&M
Leather Envelope, Homemade
Ceramic Pieces, Homemade
Office Chair, Thrifted and painted white
Pillow on Chair, Target
Side Table, Vintage
Paint Brush Jar, Gordmans (is actually a juice dispenser with spout)
Accordion Organizer, Staples
White Frame, Target
Butterfly Sketch, Homemade
Woven Fringe Basket, Target
Wrappy Paper, Rifle Paper Co.
Drawing Board, Hobby Lobby
Tall Shelf, Handcrafted by uncle
Wooden Bin, Target
Ceramic Pieces, Homemade
Gold Vessel, Gordmans
White Bin, IKEA