Friday, March 31, 2017

Feature Friday with Mandi Johnson Photography!

Mandi Johnson Photography was the winner of last week's 'extraordinary in the ordinary' challenge, and today she is sharing more about herself!

1. Please tell us about yourself...
My name is Mandi. I am a busy stay-at-home working mom of 3 littles- Brantley 4.5 years, Westyn 3 years, & Evelynn 1.5 years. I am a wife to a very supportive husband who travels for work. I also own & run 2 businesses solely on my own- 1 as a skincare Consultant with Rodan + Fields and the other my Photography Business- Mandi Johnson Photography, that I started just 4 short years ago!! Our family of 5+ 1 dog lives in the small town of Zimmerman, MN & we have a cabin we venture to frequently during the warm months.

2. Can you describe your style in 3 words? Why those words?
Real. Moody. Fun.
I chose 3 these words because: There is nothing better than documenting a day for your family or a session for clients and capturing REAL & raw emotion in the moment!! I feel like my images are MOODY because I am in no way a light & airy photographer. I embrace the shadows which to me, create depth & set the mood of the image. I use light whenever possible- such as sun flare, golden hour light, a pocket of window light to light up my image to give it dimension and add some character. I chose the word FUN because I always have fun while photographing, whether it is my own family or my clients! I don't force a shoot with little ones, but rather shoot around the kiddos by following them around & learning about them so they can be themselves and even if they are shy at the beginning, they are usually crying by the time the session is over because they don't want to leave after having so much fun! With my own family, I like to capture the here & now and our everyday life, which when you have 3 littles, ages 4 & under is always crazy, so we embrace that & make the most of it so we are always having fun which you can see in many of the image of my littles!

3. What sparked your passion for photography?
I have always enjoyed "taking pictures" & capturing precious life moments, but as I was pregnant with my first little who is now 4.5 years old, I wanted to be able to document his life with more than just a cheap camera and/or a cell phone. I bought some basic gear, took some online classes, studied photos, photographers, & information like crazy & from there my business was born. Fast forward 4 years to 2017 when I joined a 3-6-5 group to document the everyday life of my children & my passion has only grown!! I have started seeing light in a whole new way & as a lifestyle photographer with 3 kids ages 4 & under, I have learned to embrace the crazy, the messy, the chaos and just document it as it happens regardless if the moment or the scene is not perfect because I want to remember them as they were!

4. What's in your camera bag right now?
A Nikon D610 camera with a 35mm Sigma ART lens (that never leaves my camera) & a Nikkor 50mm lens (which I never use). I also keep a small sound machine for my newborn sessions & little ones that may need calming or soothing during child/family sessions, a squeaky plastic book to get kiddos attention, & a container of bubbles because who doesn't LOVE bubbles!?!?

5. What is your dream shoot or project?
I would love to be part of a collaborative project somewhere in a dreamy location such as the mountains in Colorado, by the ocean in Hawaii, or in the rain forest of Costa Rica. I also love when I see beautiful stylized sessions that involve pretty animals that are purposefully part of the session & add to the story. There are a few well known photographers that I would love to see up close & personal to shoot along side a session with in a shoot (not just a workshop)- a few of those being: The Blissful Maven, Wildflowers Photography, Twyla Jones, Stormy Solis, Twig & Olive and Sarah Cornish!

6. What are some of the misconceptions you had about photography and photographers at the beginning of your photography journey? Have they changed, and how?
I feel like one of the things people assume when you have a nice camera is that you should have a photography business, which is not necessarily the case. The camera & equipment is a very small part of it a great image or a great capture. On a bigger scale you have to know how to use that nice equipment & what to do with it after the session because post processing can be a huge piece that distinguishes your brand to set you a part from everyone else out there. For those that do start a photography business, just because your business is based on photography, that does NOT mean you have to shoot every subject. And you shouldn't! When you are first getting started it makes sense to try things out to see what you enjoy & what you have a niche for, but at some point, developing specialities is very important. When I started out with photography, I didn't know much about anything other than what I looked up, so I didn't have a specific style, photography niche, or specialty. I was just starting out so I basically thought everyone & everything I saw was great. And so I strived to be like everyone who was great. I have learned that I don't care to be good at every type of photography, but I would rather be great at the areas I enjoy shooting so that is what I focus on & continue to shoot. When I first started my business I did sessions whenever,/where ever, rather than being the one deciding some of these important pieces & guiding my clients throughout the process. Since making this change, I have had a lot of growth & enjoy the end result of my sessions so much more! I also didn't realize how expensive this business can be (if you let it) with gear, props, continuing education, etc. Trying to stand out in this business can be difficult with so many photographers out there nowadays, but making sure you don't follow along with the trends & rather develop your own style, have props you like, & equipment to fit your style instead of what every one else is doing/using is so very important!!

7. What advice would you give to newbie photographers? What advice do you wish you'd been given at the very beginning?.
The biggest advice I can give is:
-Learn your camera- read the manual & if you are unsure of something google it or ask in a group. Knowing how to use your camera is huge & can help make things more efficient.
-Shoot in manual mode & in camera RAW- You can't create consistent images if you aren't shooting in manual mode & taking advantage of having RAW images to edit with. These should be the first pieces you have in place before even considering starting a business in photography.
-Study light- light is the source of how we can capture anything & everything. Without light, there simply is no depth, dimension, or life to an image. Study it so you know where it's coming from & how to best use light sources to your advantage!
-Whenever possible, attempt to "get it right" in camera. So many things can be fixed in post processing when you have a RAW file to work with, but it is always so great when you can get most of it right in camera while shooting!
-Figure out what you LOVE shooting & stick with it! Enhancing a few areas as an expertise, rather than just doing ok with everything isn't really comparable in my opinion. When you love what you do & enjoy the areas subjects you choose to shoot, it is so fulfilling!!
-Don't copy others. There are so many ways to re-create things so they are unique & creative to your own brand & your own style which will get you so much further than trying to simply copy the work of others.

Find more of Mandi's work here:

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Extraordinary in the Ordinary

Last week we had the pleasure of having Jordan Voight, with Jordan Voigt Photography, as our guest judge. She picked the theme "Extraordinary in the Ordinary" and had an array of amazing images to choose from.  Here are Jordan's favorites.  

Top 10 in no particular order:

I went back to this capture several times, something about it just drew me in. I love the moment and the tones. 

The lighting, the connection, the shapes. Everything about it is perfect! 

This one makes me smile. I want to be on that street corner eating ice cream! 

I love the lines and the sky. It is simple, yet extraordinary! 

This one impresses me so much! It looks like something that might ordinarily get passed over, but the attention to details it impeccable. I love all the lines and shapes. 

The shapes and shadows make this capture so interesting. Great eye! 

I love this perspective and the sweet story here. 

The dramatic sky and reflections are so beautiful! 

Such a cool way to look at playing in the park. I love the movement! 

I love the little peep of sun flare coming from the window and all of the different colors! 

And the WINNER is...

The moment I saw this image, it was an instant favorite of mine! I just love everything about it! 


Tia Costello

Meet This Week's Judge: Moments by Mancuso

We're thrilled to have the fabulously talented Tonya of Moments by Mancuso as guest judge this week. Read on to learn more about her!

1. Tell us about yourself...
      Hey everyone, I am Tonya from Moments by Mancuso.  I started this photography journey a little over a year now but wish I had started decades ago!  I am a mother of 3 girls, a wife to a fun and extreme husband, and an ex-teacher.  I stay home now and it allows me to have beautiful models at a moments whim! I don’t consider myself a “professional” but I do offer documentary-like services, mostly word of mouth. I am just thankful that God has allowed me the opportunity to see life in a new way-through my lens!

2. What ignited your passion for photography, and what fuels it now?
I know you haven’t heard this one yet but I started a passion for photography when I had my children.  Weird, right?  Anyhow, when I was younger I lost all my childhood pictures in a house fire.  I really miss being able to have those memories and I didn’t want that for my girls.  I’ve taken pictures of them doing everything so that they’ll have something to remember their childhood by.  Having something tangible that portrays my kids’ lives is how my passion started.  What fuels it now is having that for my girls, family, friends and clients.  Everyone should have these memories reserved for the future!

3. What’s in your camera bag right now, what do use the most? the least? 
I always get slightly embarrassed with this question but we all start somewhere, right?  I have a Sony A77 crop-sensor, an 18-135 3.5-5.5 lens, a 50 1.8 lens and 2 batteries. I use the 18-135 the most because of the wide angle I need for tight spaces (for in-home sessions). However, it’s really not that sharp of a lens but that’s what I have. 

4. What’s your dream project or shoot?
My dream project, which would be way down the road, would be to spend time and document the lives of the homeless. My heart has always been drawn to those who have no place to call their own, to lay their heads down every night with warmth and peace. Shooting clients is amazing too but I want to do something with my God-given gift that would benefit those less fortunate.

5. What is the biggest challenge you face as a photographer? 
My biggest challenge as a photographer would be thinking I am good enough to make this into a business.  I haven’t been at this very long but it’s still hard for me to take money for my services.  I have had many photographer friends tell me to start out with pricing that would be worth being away from my family for.  I have taken their advice and have priced myself higher than the MANY new photographers in the area (offering all their images and rights for $40)!  Although, I have a very different style than these other newbies, I still have a hard time believing I am good enough to charge more than them.  So all in all, my biggest challenge is self-doubt! 

6. If you had $500 to spend on photography… I would buy a new lens.  I have been eyeing a few but it’s been hard to seal the deal.  Not everything is compatible with my Sony so that also makes it hard to decide.  I know I want a wide angle with 1.4 or 1.8. Only time will tell what I’ll end up getting.

How do you wish you could spend it? A full-frame

How would you really spend it? I’d probably NOT spend it.  So indecisive!

7. Is there any one thing you wish someone had told you at the very beginning of your photography journey?  
Luckily, I started getting involved in some wonderful communities with artists that have offered wonderful advice.  So, I believe I heard it all before I really took the leap.  However, one thing that is still hard to control, even though I was warned, is comparing yourself to other photographers.  Not everyone has the same equipment, the same experience, the same vision and so on. No matter how much time you invest right away, you aren’t going to master it.  It takes time to figure it all out and even those photographers that you admire have areas that they feel weak in.  I have yet met a photographer that feels they have mastered it!

Follow Tonya of Moments by Mancuso here:

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Maven Flyer for the week of March 27th, 2017

Welcome to 
 The Maven Flyer
For the week of March 27th, 2017

Here we will offer suggestions for places for you to submit your images
for sharing and competition.
If you have or know of a sharing community or theme, please let us know
by emailing the name, link, and specifics to
Include "Please Add This Page to the Flyer"
in the subject line so we won't miss it.

At this time you will need to visit each page to learn the specifics of the pages 
rules and deadlines for sharing images.

Happy Sharing Everyone!

Snap Maven ~ {imperfect}
Art of Storytelling ~ {the depth in the story}
Clickin Moms~ {Weekly Favourite}
The Dark Room{Weekly Favourite}
Snap Love Grow{monochrome}
 Fantastically Flawed ~ {I don't want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again}
Picture Me Project~{Self Portrait}
Lemonade and Lenses~{Weekly Favourite each week}
Mozi Magazine~{Weekly Favourite each week}
Seniorologie~ {Weekly (Senior) Favourite each week}
Photo Artistry~  {March theme: Together}
Little Bellows {Weekly favorite each week}
Life's Experience p52~{week 13 | negative space}
The Monochromatic Lens~{Weekly Favourite each week}
Minimalist Mondays ~ {Weekly Favourite}
The Snap Society ~ {Weekly Favourite each week}
Life Unscripted {environmental portraits}
Dear Photographer{Daily Favourite}
Sham of the Perfect~ {Family Documentary Favourite each week}
Fearless and Framed~ {Honestly Documented each week}
Soul Focus -   {Reflect the world within}
Dads in the wild - {Weekly Faves each week}
Share Six- {Restore}
Photography By Heart- {themeless}

That concludes the links for this week!
If there is a link you'd like to see here, please let us know at
Include "Please Add This Page to the Flyer"
in the subject line so we won't miss it.
Please allow 2-3 weeks for addition to The Maven Flyer
Same goes for errors, though we hope to get those fixed right away.
Future issues of The Maven Flyer will be posted on Tuesday evenings.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Feature Friday with Kate Cuénoud Photography!

We were fortunate enough to have Kate Cuénoud Photography as a guest judge earlier this year. Read on to find out all about her, and make sure to visit her Facebook page as well as her website - her landscape work in particular is breathtaking, and she has a lovely way of capturing everyday moments and making them look so special!

1. Tell us about yourself...

I am an American living in Switzerland with my Swiss husband and youngest two children. Our oldest daughter attends college in the US. I love photography, nature, travel, art, history and Friday Movie Night.

2. What ignited your passion for photography, and what fuels it now?

I have been taking photos since I was eight (and I’m old so that’s a loooong time)! I remember squirreling away my money to buy and develop film.  I have always been an observer of people, a shy and quiet person fascinated by everyday human behavior and emotion, experimentation, and the natural world.  Those things still inspire me.

3. What’s in your camera bag right now, what do use the most? the least?

I shoot primarily with the Canon 6d and Sigma 35 Art lens.  I have other lenses, but the only other lens I use occasionally is my 100 macro.  I also carry extra batteries, a cleaning cloth, a prism and a plastic tube in a small bag.

4. What’s your dream project or shoot?

My dream project is to photograph a homebirth or go with a family on a travel adventure to record their experience.

5. What is the biggest challenge you face as a photographer?

Time to develop my goals.  I have a lot of creative ideas, but not a lot of dedicated, uninterrupted time to execute those ideas.

6. If you had $500 to spend on photography...
How should you spend it? Consulting time to take my ideas to the next level.
How do you wish you could spend it? Train tickets and hotel for a few days in a new place.

How would you really spend it? On a new lens like a Lensbaby or some accessories. Maybe just to have my camera professionally cleaned!

7. Is there any one thing you wish someone had told you at the very beginning of your photography journey?
Not really.  I have enjoyed each step of my journey, even those that have been uncomfortable, and can see how essential each has been to my development as an artist. A friend once told me that when you feel stuck, it only means you are on the verge of a breakthrough. That mantra has proven to be true to me and has seen me through a lot of difficult periods!

Find more of Kate's gorgeous work here:

Feature Friday with Cindy Robbins Photography!

Cindy of Cindy Robbins Photography was the winner of our recent 'bold' challenge, and today she is sharing a bit about herself, and of course more of her beautiful work!

1. Please tell us about yourself…
Whew.. well.. I’m a mom of 4 kids and a whole mess of pets, married almost 17 years and living in Northern NJ.  I love the sun — did my undergrad work at Arizona State.. (GO SUNDEVILS) and worked for a few years at club med as an aerobics instructor (totally serious) — love being outside, working out, day trips into NYC and pretty much structure my day around anything that will make my kids tired :-D

2. Can you describe your style in 3 words? Why those words?
everyday, life, real
While i can appreciate a well composed portrait, for me it doesn't tell a story… I  love to use my images to tell the story of my life, and my children's childhood.  Portrait photography, and studio photography seems too sterile to me. My life isn't lived in fancy clothes, in perfect lighting or in a crisp clean studio.  Its full of dirt and sunshine and small dirty hands that paint where they shouldn’t, skinned knees, wet shoes from jumping in puddles, hurried trips thru museums and flour covered counter tops from making cookies.   i was always drawn to lifestyle type images that show the extraordinary in everyday life so that is what i shoot.

3. What sparked your passion for photography?
i always was the kid with the camera— in college i would spend my money on “reprints” (yes i know that dates me) instead of food. But i really didn't get into photography until my son was born almost 15 years ago.. and then well I took shots of everything. My second child came along less than a year later and the two of them were peas on a pod. I took pictures allllll the time.. and i can pinpoint the EXACT moment my passion really started — they were 2 and 3 and i was trying to take a picture for our Christmas card…. and i got a shot I LOVED…. and then i looked at it more… and was like WHATTTTT is that? and noticed a shadow behind them.. caused by the on board flash… so i googled how to get rid of flash shadow.. which led me on the “how to shoot in manual” adventure and well that was the beginning right there…

4. What's in your camera bag right now?
24-70 on my canon mark iii  90% of the time, 16-35 on my canon mark ii 90% of the time, a 50 1.4, a 100 2.8 macro that i can’t remember the last time i used and a 85.1.4 — which i should probably sell cuz i NEVER use— I have a speed light which I can count on one hand the number of times i have used in the last year.

5. What is your dream shoot or project?
being asked to come into a clients home to shoot for a few hours of their life.. just them being them in their house. or grocery shopping or out as a family. I am on year 7 of my own person 365 project… it takes so much time/energy and organization to do it.. but the end result is amazing.

6. What are some of the misconceptions you had about photography and photographers at the beginning of your photography journey? Have they changed, and how?
When is started out i saw other photographer images and was like i need to shoot like that or like this and made the mistake of not using other photographers' images as inspiration to find my own photographic voice but  i thought.. "i need to shoot like them" —and for a while i tried.. but it went against every fiber of my photographic being.. i didnt like posing, i didnt like everyone looking at the camera .. it didnt feel “REAL”to me.  Now when i see other photographers work i can see THEM in it.. more often than not i know whose image it is before i see the name attached to it.. it is just HOW they see the world. i thought that i had to see the world like everyone else. I was wrong.

7. What advice would you give to newbie photographers? What advice do you wish you'd been given at the very beginning?
Learn the photographic “rules” and then learn when to break them.  The best advice I ever got was you need to know the story you want to tell BEFORE you click the button. That sets the whole tone of the image. What advice do i wish i got? Shoot for yourself not for other people. :-D

Find more of Cindy's gorgeous work here:

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