A Minot couple who wanted others to see what they see has started a new business allowing them to do just that.
Lyndee and Christopher Phillips opened Sea the Mountain, a photography business selling small and large prints, photographs transferred to stretched canvas, silk scarfs with photographic patterns printed on them and greeting cards.
Christopher Phillips spends his days as a heart surgeon at Trinity Health while Lyndee Phillips is a full-time mom taking care of their 14-month-old daughter at home. She tends to Sea the Mountain in any spare time she can find.
The couple has been in Minot about 1 1/2 years and moved here from Cleveland for Christopher's job at Trinity. Before she moved to Minot, Lyndee Phillips had a successful business career for over 13 years.
"I used to have a full-time career as an international business consultant and I stepped away in order to start a family," Phillips said.
After settling down in Minot, Phillips got the itch to get involved in business again. However, with a young daughter to take care of, she needed to think of something that kept her close to home.
"I wanted to do something that was still business oriented without having to travel, so this was a perfect fit - turning a hobby into a small business," Phillips said.
That hobby was photography. While her husband is the photography expert of the two, Phillips is learning quickly and said her forte is finding images in nature that would make unique and interesting patterns.
"I like looking at textures and dimensions with a different opportunity for content," Phillips said.
As an example, she mentioned the scarf she was wearing. The original image was actually a pile of dinosaur bones she and her husband came across while on a walk in southwest North Dakota that inspired her to create a pattern.
"So I took a zoom in with our lens and then transformed it with Photoshop and made it into a little bit more artistic rendition of a dinosaur bone pile. So I like looking at different things like that," Phillips said. "I think my husband probably tends to look more into wildlife. He's done a lot of the bison pictures that we have, the elk pictures that we have, and the underwater wildlife that we have."
She said the two strike a nice balance, with him looking at the wildlife and her looking at the patterns in the wildlife.
The photographic images they sell tend to have a wildlife and nature theme. Phillips said their photography hobby actually came about due to one of their other hobbies.
"Where our photography really originated, we're both scuba divers and my husband began looking at underwater photography," Phillips said. "So we did that about seven, eight years ago and it really took off - starting underwater and going into more wildlife, nature, mountains and things of that nature."
"Really a majority of our content is around nature," she added. "We have a few things that are more maybe this and that."
Some time later Phillips and her husband were looking over all the photos they had taken on numerous trips when a thought occurred to him.
"He said, 'Wouldn't it be great if we could share our passion and enthusiasm with others from the artwork that we've captured?'" Phillips said.
It was this past July on their sixth wedding anniversary that they decided to take the plunge and form a photography business. As for the name of their new business, Phillips said it actually came to her husband while they were taking a walk with their daughter in Minot on their anniversary.
"I said if we do this, what are we going to call it? And it just came to him on our walk," Phillips said. "So he was able to name the business Sea the Mountain, and we both fell in love with it."
Since the business is part-time, they have no gallery at the moment. Instead, Phillips is using the power of the Internet to reach a wide audience. The website, (www.seathemountain.com), opened in mid-October and allows customers to see their work day or night. Phillips is always glad to personally assist customers with any questions they might have, as well.
"If someone were to go and see a picture that they liked on our website and they weren't sure about the sizes it's offered in, I can always get that information if they contact me via email or give me a phone call," Phillips said.
While she doesn't have a proper gallery, Phillips said she is more than willing to work with customers who want to see her pieces for themselves. She has no problem taking some examples to a person's home so they can see how it would look on their own wall.
Phillips attended her first public display, The The Big One Art & Craft Fair at the North Dakota State Fair Center, Friday and Saturday to give people a firsthand look at her various pictures and other photographic pieces.
"We're very new and really excited to bring this into Minot. And we've also registered and been accepted into Pride of Dakota," Phillips said. "So we're excited about that presence, as well."
While the business is still young, some customer favorites have already popped up. Phillips said the oil painting renditions on stretched canvas have been very popular. To create those, she imports a photo into Photoshop and modifies it to look like an oil painting. The modified photo is then printed on the stretched canvas, even on the sides, which adds to its authentic look.
In particular, it has been the wildlife photography - both on the plains and under the water - that has caught more than one customer's eye.
Other popular choices have been some images of a ghost town in Montana and a few pictures from Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada.
Phillips has been thrilled to have the opportunity to turn a favorite hobby into a business. Even better is being able to share it with her husband, who is just as excited about finding new and interesting pictures to shoot as she is.
"I saw this as an opportunity to take something that we were already doing and enjoying, and to apply my business experience with my husband's photography experience to really bring those together and offer up the things that we've seen to other people," Phillips said. We really love nature, and to be in nature and to experience it, and this was just a great way of sharing."
Phillips said even if someone just looks at a few pictures and doesn't end up buying anything, she enjoys having the opportunity to share the places she and her husband have been with others, and to possibly show them something they've never seen before. And sometimes, Phillips learns a thing or two herself. That, above all else, is why she loves photography so much.
"So that's really what we wanted to do, is open up the world to others. To see what we've seen and to maybe even give us ideas of places to go that we haven't experienced yet," Phillips said. "So it's to learn from people as much as it is to share what we have with others."