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Blog - VivianMaier

5 Minutes with Maddie Peterson

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The business-savvy and former Tassie girl Maddie Peterson joins the Lei Momi Camera Bags blog from Brisbane to talk about striking an elusive balance between the art of photography and photography as a sustainable business, the enemy known as Comparison, and photographing a 74-year-old love affair. The lifestyle/family/birth photographer and mother of three has taken time out from her home-based business to share some pearls of photography wisdom with us. 

Welcome to the Lei Momi blog, Maddie!

1. Tell us a little about yourself including where you live, where you’ve travelled and how you fell in love with photography:

I'm a Brisbane-based photographer and have lived here for nearly 15 years. I was born in Sydney then lived in beautiful Tasmania for ten years before coming to Brisbane after my 21st. My hubby and I have three wonderful children who I love to adventure and laugh with; they are the inspiration for most of my photography. I've mostly travelled this side of the world and have a particular love of New Zealand. Crisp clean air and divine outdoors make for a happy heart! I've always been fascinated with photography and documenting life. I had a simple camera with me often in my teens and in my early 20's I started shooting small weddings. My work kept growing from there over the years around other full time roles in business and marketing. When my little girl was born in 2008 I decided to build a home-based business and I haven't looked back! My love of people and life and telling the story of the things you love most is what I am most passionate about. After shooting weddings until 2013 I now focus on families and babies and I also do lifestyle commercial work in the arts and education fields. The name 'etta' means: female, pearl, keeper of the home, beautiful and little one. When I came across it I thought it was perfect for my business and as a mama too. It's catchy & sweet - so it stuck!

2. Photography is: an opportunity to stop a moment in life and savour it. Life brings us all curveballs and it's an art to be able to take time to focus on the best things in life. Beautiful images help keep your spirits high, your heart full and your days happier.

3. Who or what influences your work most? I enjoy inspiration from other genres like film and interior design as well as the human life and the beauty of nature. I often spot beautiful locations, pretty light and wonderful emotions in people when I'm out and about. I love interesting stories of other photographers of the past too - like Vivian Maier - so fascinating and wonderful that she photographed beautiful works for herself alone, never even knowing that the world would get to enjoy them one day.

4. Do you have any formal photography training? While doing a Bachelor of Education out of school I chose electives in film photography, which gave me a taste of the photography world. I also worked in marketing and learned about Photoshop which was great. Most of my knowledge comes from a keen interest in photography books and websites and a persistent attitude to keep learning.

Since I started my own business I've also met with amazing mentors and done several workshops, which confirmed the directions I wanted to head. My skills in business, client services and administration have been just as important in the success of my business as the creative and technical growth I've experienced. I think there are many photographers out there who create amazing images, however the balance between this art and using it to create a living is a different story that only few can marry together well.

5. What kind of camera/s do you use? I love to use the Canon 5Dii and 5Diii

6. Lens of choice? My favourite lenses are 24-70mm for family adventures and 50mm f1.4 / f1.2 for portraits, photojournalism and low-light work.

7. Which editing software do you use? Photomechanic to sort, then into Lightroom for basic edits and Photoshop for final touches if required.

8. Of all the online and print photography resources available, which do you find most valuable? I don't have any specific ones that I love. YouTube and Google often help me out in that direction. Some sources where I've found good information include CreativeLive, Digital Photography School, Colour in Cambridge and other photographers’ blogs.

9. Do you have an all-time favourite photograph you have taken? I don't have one favourite image, but I definitely have favourite images over the years (and always a favourite or two in each client gallery!) 

I photographed a 95 and 97-year-old couple once, who had been married for 74 years - that was amazing! And on the other end of the spectrum, I do love birth photography and find it a complete honour to capture a little soul at just a few seconds old. This shot of a newborn looking up at mama for the first time makes me very content to be able to do what I do. 

10. If you could photograph any person, thing, place or event in the world, what would it be? I've achieved a lot of my dreams in the last ten years which is good and I'm currently creating a new list! However, on the topic.....I wouldn't say no to a trip to France or Canada for a family session ;)

11.What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photographs? Remember - as long as you are improving, you will get there. Don't compare yourself to others; just be inspired by them and go do your own thing - "Comparison is the enemy of creativity!" Relax your brain and see what it comes up with when you do. If you are frustrated, it means you know the end result you are seeking, so if you just keep going, you'll get there.

12. You spend a lot of time behind the camera. How do you feel in front of it? I'd prefer to TAKE the photo than be in one, but I will if I have to :) I think it's good to do it sometimes to remember what your clients can feel like too and how you can make it as relaxing as possible.

13. What is the most challenging aspect of running a photography business? Keeping chilled as a get-it-done person while still having a long to-do list. If you're a creative ideas person like me you'll always be adding to the list, but if you're also a 'close-the-door' kind of person it can be frustrating when business needs continually become more important than creative ventures. The real balance comes when you schedule time for exploration and new ideas.

Connect with Maddie:

Website: www.ettaphotography.com.au

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ettaphotography

Pinterest: ettaphotography

Instagram: ettaphotography


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