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:


  1. Congrats, Mandi! You are so talented.

  2. I'm proud to say I knew you from the beginning....your dreams are represented in your work. Congrats on your award.


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