Inspired Women Rising: Meet Sally Mars


This blog series is about creating a sacred space for women to share their stories, advice, words of wisdom, and challenges to help inspires us all.

It’s about raising our global consciousness to unite and learn from each other as the beautiful women we are. Together, we create a tapestry of love, connection, and wisdom. It’s from this place where we shine.

Let me introduce,  Sally Mars

Location: Minneapolis, MN

Position: Producer (Print and Broadcast), Artist Manager (Chris Mars Publishing)

What else are you a part of: Photographer (Fine Art), Writer (Short Stories, Essays, Poems), Facilitator of Photo Union League at Minneapolis Photo Center, Co-Facilitator of The F-Stop Group with Tom Arndt at Minneapolis Photo Center, Animal Rescue volunteer with Secondhand Hounds.

Where did you grow up? My family moved a lot when I was growing up – 12 schools in 12 years. I was born and started out in New York, finished high school and went to college in Colorado. Moved to Minnesota post-college for work, fell in love, stayed. Minnesota is home.

Tell me about your typical day.
I’m freelance, and I freelance in various roles – agency-side producer, art director and creative director, plus vendor-side producer. A given day might include prep work from my home office, pre-dawn call times when shooting, sleeping until noon when I’m not.

A shoot day could include anything from coordinating locomotives to athletes to bears; or, directing directors, actor or editors. A prep day is generally spent in my office with dogs all about, lots of time on the computer. My own shoot days could mean walking along jungle trails in Mexico, or heading to a ballpark before batting practice.

But mostly, I’m a night owl. That’s when I write, edit my own work, and do what’s best done without distraction.

What do you love the most about your job?
I love being able to work from home mostly. I love when it provides unique adventures like traveling to the desert, or flying in helicopters. I love when I get to work with like-minded and kind people, which happens sometimes.

But mostly I love that it enables me the flexibility to do things I love more – writing, taking pictures, and being with my family.

What do you do when you’re not working?
My husband and I love movies – we see a lot of them, and even make some from time to time. I love animals. We have four dogs of our own, and I love to hang out with them.


I love baseball, and I love to photograph baseball. I like to read, and write, and explore other cultures, especially through travel and food. I think of myself as lazy because I enjoy being still, but really, being still is part of my creative process.

What is on your bookshelf?
I couldn’t name just one. I love the short stories of Ernest Hemingway. I love the work of Melanie Rae Thon – her most recent book “The Voice of the River” is breathtaking. I love the vignettes of Eduardo Galeano. I love Tony Earley’s “Jim the Boy”. T.C. Boyle’s “Tortilla Curtain” literally changed how I view the world. I love short stories, especially ones that are brief in language, or duration.

What helps you stay inspired?
My husband is a full time visual artist. His success is proof to me that success – meaning, the opportunity to work on one’s art full time – is possible. His constant motivation and his magnificent work inspire me endlessly. The feeling I get from having made something – having brought an image or poem into the world – is itself inspiring.

But above all, being alive is inspiring. I won’t always be, so I want to consciously experience and appreciate every moment that’s given to me.

When things don’t go as planned, what three things you do to bring you back to your center?
I usually don’t have a plan, so I’m often spared the frustration of not having it go as I imagined it would! But when I do get stuck, the encouragement of my husband and my friends can get me rolling again, as does forgiving myself for being stuck.

And certainly, just making something, anything, un-sticks me. It’s the classic idea of “work your way through it” that tends to work best for me.

What quote, saying or philosophy do you live by?
There are two. The first is by Don Barthelme, from his book “40 Stories.” It says:


I find this quote so succinct, the truth of it so obvious. This idea helps me love what is, and keeps me from belaboring my creative work – or anything else most generally.

The second quote goes perfectly with this idea, though the source is much less elegant: An old Doritos commercial. It says, “Don’t worry, we’ll make more.” Creatively, I work quickly, preferring the idea of perfection through practice, and over time. Perfection, strange word. Unless one’s criteria is “that which exists.”

What is the biggest risk you’ve taken and what did you learn from it?
In truth I have a terrible memory for the past, and I can’t think of any big risks I’ve taken per se. On paper it might seem that leaving my full-time agency job to go freelance was a risk, but really, I was so ready it didn’t feel risky at all.

I moved cross-country after college, to a town where I knew no one. That might seem from the outside risky, but again, I was so ready to leave where I was that it feels like staying put would have been the greater risk.

Fostering dogs seemed like a big risk, knowing how attached me and my husband both become to a dog so easily. But that has proved an immensely rewarding experience, and while our great fear was that we’d end up keeping our foster dog – when we already had a full house, so to speak, that did happen – twice now – and that worked out great too.

So I guess to answer your question, what I’ve learned about risk is to never make a decision out of fear; that making a brave decision tends to work out well. Really well.

What is on your bucket list?
Living to be a healthy and independent 95 year old.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve been a bit stuck on this one because the best advice I’ve ever received too readily comes off as negative and crude, if repeated.

So I’ll instead share what I gleaned from this advice:

Be yourself, be free. - Sally Mars Click To Tweet

How do you manage spending time with your family, your work, and time for yourself?
I binge on each in turn – my job is demanding, when I’m working it can be all consuming. But when I’m not working, I can indulge my favorite things – my family, my closest friends, and my necessary alone time, from which my creative works are born. Those who love me best understand this, and as it goes are like this themselves.

What accomplishments in your life are you most proud of?
I am exceedingly proud of the groups that I’m involved with at MPC, both Photo Union and F-Stop. The opportunity to be around passionate, creative artists and to view great work is a gift.

But mostly, I’m proud of how I always try to do the right thing, to be kind above all else, to be happy, and to be conscious of and grateful for the wonderful, beautiful life I get to lead.

What is one thing you wished you knew when you were younger?
That everything was going to be alright.

What do you want to tell the women of the world today?
That you are more beautiful than you will ever know. Be good to each other. Be kind.

IWR_SallyPhoto1Sally Mars is a writer, photographer and producer of various things – short and feature films, TV commercials, books and advertising. Her photographs, essays and poems have appeared in numerous publications including SHOTS, Elysian Fields Quarterly, Whispering Pines, Churn, The Rake and many more; her images have shown at galleries and museums across the country and are held in public collections. Her film collaborations with artist husband Chris Mars have screened at Sundance, MOMA, Halle St. Pierre. She makes her home in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

View Sally’s beautiful photographs {her husband’s work too}, short stories, and more below:

The Inspired Women Rising blog interview series asks smart vibrant women to share their stories, words of advice, challenges, and more to help inspire other women. The first Sunday of every month, I’ll feature a new guest who will share their stories, wisdom, and tips that help them navigate modern life. Do you have someone you want featured? Email me. #sacredpresence #werisetogether

Graphics designed by Bonfires & Ukueles

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