Betsy and Maggie interviewed author Mary Parry and photographer Corey Williams about their inspiring children’s book, Sadie McGrady Runs for President. Mary spent years developing Sadie and found, in Corey, a photographer who brought her vivid ideas to life—just in time for a pre-election release. Included below are highlights from the lunchtime conversation with the duo.

We’re eager to hear the story of your partnership—how did it come to be?
MP: The photographer I had originally lined up canceled due to a family emergency. I was lamenting to a friend about how I might have to give up on the whole project because the deadlines were coming so fast. She whipped out her Instagram and said, “You should contact this photographer. My daughter was in a photo shoot with her, and she’s crazy good.” So I thought, I’m just going to ask. Why not?! When we met, I could tell instantly that she was the one.

How did you know?
MP: Her photos were really creative. Some photographers have really well-done—but very traditional—photos. Corey, on the other hand, had paired a bride she photographed with a moped and balloons. Since I don’t have those powers, I really appreciate people who do.

CW: Photography’s my strength, but the publishing process isn’t. Mary had the pieces in place to make the engine fly. She brought the structure. All I needed to do was step in for this one-week photo shoot, and she would make a book happen.

What makes your partnership work? 
CW: I now know that I need a “Mary Parry.” I have big explosions of creativity, and then I don’t do anything for a day or two. Mary was totally willing to ride that wave but with persistent, understanding pressure.

MP: We inspire each other to grow in different ways. I took a photography class from Corey after the book came out. I love what she does, and I wanted to learn more.

How did the fact that you’re both women influence your work?
CW: The chaos of kids as subjects isn’t something most male photographers want to deal with. They would rather shoot cars or grownups.

MP: Because of the nature of this project, I insisted this partnership be with a woman who could take amazing pictures.

That’s powershipWhat advice do you have for other women who are considering joining forces?
MP: Be flexible.

CW: I’ve learned a lot about myself from partnering with Mary. Most importantly, I learned that when I can be openly honest about my faults, failings, limitations, it makes it possible for other people to pick up the slack, and then I can run with the things I’m good at.

MP: When we started, we were moving so fast we had to be direct because we didn’t have time for niceties. We had to put all our stuff on the table. It was about getting Sadie done, but also putting everything out there that could get in the way of getting Sadie done.

What’s the secret to your success?
MP: I knew the turnaround was short and that I was asking a lot. So I made clear early on that I would respect that Corey is the professional photographer. I wrote the words and got the people, but Corey had to have the space to do her work. So when I brought the outfits for Sadie and she messed them up to make them more interesting, I was ok with that. Trust is huge.

CW: How did you really feel about that? The $80 dress you bought that I was cutting up with scissors?

MP: That’s how great things happen—by being ok with tearing things up. That’s how creativity works. The best things can come from being open to taking structure out of it. We had a solid plan and a framework, but also a go-with-the-flow approach.

Ok, Corey, you get the last word.
CW: Here’s my last word – let’s do it again!

*Edited for clarity and space. Image of Corey (left) and Mary (right) courtesy of Corey Williams.