Yesterday was National Camera Day! In honor of that, I wanted to do a write up on some St. Louis Photographers as well as some from around the world that I admire and respect! Thanks to Courtney Michelle Stepp of CMS Photography, I happen to have a photo with my camera that I wanted to share! Not only does it exemplify where I am in life (36 weeks 4 days…but who’s counting?!) but I also happen to be clutching my favorite accessory: My Camera!
Photo Credit: CMS Photography
Inspired by Courtney's post yesterday, I’ll start with Courtney of CMS Photography. I met Courtney through a local photographers group we’re both a part of. Courtney then started another online photography group called “Shoot For Passion”. I love the group because it’s welcoming, there’s human interaction because we actually meet up with each other for photo shoots, and there is some serious passion in there. Courtney is super passionate about photography and furthermore, passionate about sharing in her love of it with other photographers. Courtney is not only welcoming to other photographers, but she’s not afraid to give advice when needed. She seeks out constructive criticism and loves to show off other photographers work. I love her photography and she is definitely someone I admire for her hard work and dedication.
Photo credit: Shutterdarling Photography LLC
Next on the docket, we swing our way over to Australia where Lacey Barratt runs Lacey Barratt Photography. She is a birth photographer and a huge inspiration. I love that she is (in her words) “unapologetically raw”. She creates and embodies “beautiful chaos” both in her work and her life. She is a true go getter and fights for the empowerment of women’s bodies through her work. She is wonderfully supportive of every walk of life and she is never afraid to back down — not to social media standards and regulations, not to mainstream press, not to anyone trying to suppress the beauty of birth, breastfeeding and motherhood. I see a little slice of myself in her attitude and where I may shy away or back down a bit, Lacey is right there to tell people how it is. She is a no holds barred, I-don’t-give-a-damn person. She is a mom to 5 kiddos and she is a fierce businesswoman. I feel like every time I turn around, she has something new up her sleeves and I’m constantly in awe of how she does it all. I have two kids with one on the way and I’m always telling myself, “Ok, if Lacey can do this, this, and this, I can surely accomplish what I have on my plate too!”
My third inspiration is someone right here in St. Louis and was my very own wedding photographer (and she also photographed our engagement, our first baby bump, and did a MASSIVE family photo shoot for my entire family), Lisa Hessel from Lisa Hessel Photography. Her work is breathtaking and I can never get enough when I see her post her dreamy couples and to.die.for. weddings. She is humble and grounded and somehow never lets it get to her head. Years ago, I asked to tag along with her to a wedding to see her perspective of things from the photography side. I will never forget this man and his wife were walking down the street as we were waiting for the bride to exit her limo. The guy shouts out, “If it’s a Lisa Hessel wedding, it must be a good one!” Mic. Drop. I mean, recognition is one thing, but that statement will FOREVER stick with me. A Lisa Hessel wedding. And he was so right. Her work is gorgeous and she is such a beautiful person inside and out. She’s a mom to two boys and a girl and is blissfully married to her soul mate, Jon, who also second shoots for her. They’re an impressive team. If I were getting married today, I would choose her over and over again.
Jenna Hodges who owns and operates Jenna Hodges Photography is actually a friend I met through my husband. He and Jenna have worked together for nearly 8 years. Jenna is another photographer whom I’ve personally hired — she shot a 1st birthday session for my son, Finn, and it included our family as well. I cherish the photos because as a photographer, it’s hard to get pictures of your own kids and it can be even harder to get IN the photos with your kiddos and actually have good pictures to show from it. It’s usually best to hire someone else and it’s nice to be on the other side of the camera. Jenna and I have worked on many photo shoots together now and she even took some of the bodyscapes images of me from Shutterfest this past year. Jenna and I have similar attitudes and outlooks on things regarding our photography business and it’s so easy to get along with and speak to her. Jenna recently took a trip to Paris (!!) and I just love this light and airy photo of her taken by Katie Mitchell Photography because it’s similar to Jenna’s style — light and airy. I absolutely adore it because my style is also light and airy and it speaks to me. I think this is one of the reasons I love Jenna’s work so much as well — it’s true to her and it feels like home to me.
Photo credit: Katie Mitchell Photography
Another local photographer who I’ve come to know and have hired myself is Page Miller of P&T Photography. She is a young mama like myself (well, she’s a tad younger than me ha ha). I actually first heard of Page through another of my local photography groups. Page and soon to be hubby, Brad, suffered the loss of their infant son, Clark not even one year ago. I cried when I read the post from the other photographer regarding the situation. I didn’t know her at the time but I was so saddened by the tragedy. I donated immediately knowing that if I were in the same situation, I could only hope for other people’s generosity to come through. Time went on and I got pregnant with our third. I hesitated to reach out to Page at that time about Birth Photography because I didn’t want to cause her any hurt or anguish. Her work was beautiful, though, and I figured if she didn’t want to be bothered, she would’ve likely taken down her website and Facebook page. We talked on the phone and connected with each other in that first conversation for about an hour. Her packages were perfect for us, but more importantly, her work was on point. As a birth photographer, I knew I had to have her. We sat down at another meeting to get to know each other a bit more and the contract was signed. Page and I have now worked together and she did our maternity session. There’s this beautiful quote that goes around the Birth Photography community: “Nevertheless she persisted”. I feel like that is Page. She’s been through such tragedy, she isn’t afraid to show her followers her vulnerable side, and yet, she persists. Page found out about 4-5 weeks after me that she is expecting her third baby and is delivering at the Mercy Birthing Center as well. It’s a beautiful thing and I’m so excited to have her as my birth photographer and to experience it from the photographer’s standpoint first!
Photo credit: Carleigh Cline with Carleigh Michelle Photography
I find inspiration all over the place, and at some point in time a couple years back, I stumbled across a Facebook page called the “Skeptical Mother”. She posted some downright amazing things, but over time decided it was time to take her page down. I was sad, my friend was sad, and my sister was sad. We loved following her and through her we found Georgia Brizuela who ran the blog, “Documenting Delight” which is now aptly named, “Gregarious Peach”. She is absolutely one of my photography idols. Her work is beautiful, meaningful, and its documentary. Her work never ceases to amaze me and she has a knack for story telling. She is also a young mama to two boys and a girl. My second and her third baby are relatively close in age so I feel a connection in her work that includes her kiddos. She’s also Australian and she has such a beautiful family and outlook on life. I admire her dedication to her photography work as well as her dedication to her children. She is real and authentic, let’s her kids be kids, and is downright honest with them. I try to take snippets of her parenting and incorporate it into my own. She has inspired me to capture the delight in every day life as well as to treat my children with respect, dignity, and honesty.
My last feature is someone whom I’ve actually known about for years, but just recently started getting to know better. Meet Aloha Kelly! She is the mastermind behind Aloha Kelly Photography. My husband, Tony, and Aloha actually went to high school together. I remember years ago Tony telling me I needed to look her up and look up her work because he knew I’d like it. And of course, he was right! As it turns out, Aloha (yes, that’s her real name and how freaking cool is that?!) is an extremely successful businessperson. She is a powerhouse and she is damn good at what she does. She’s a wedding photographer here in St. Louis and not only does she know lighting, composition, angles and posing, but she.knows.business. One of my favorite things about the photography community here is the help that other photographers are willing to offer and Aloha is no exception. She doesn’t sweet talk or sugar coat things and is 100% about helping others. Community over competition. I swear she must drink that phrase in her coffee all day because she never seems to shy away from an opportunity to help and guide others. I am wowed by her business mindset and I have SO much to learn from her. She is an inspiration in her success and an inspiration in her business and I can’t wait to continue learning from her and growing my business.
Photo Credit: Liz Stewart Photography
Thank you to all these beautiful souls and photographers for the constant inspiration in my own work. I'm so honored to know you either personally, professionally, or through this crazy world of the internet. You inspire me daily and I truly thank you for that! Happy National Camera Day!