Newborn Perfection – Interview with Amy McDaniel

* Please note – This is a public version and has some of Amy’s responses removed from the interview. The members only version includes all responses and is available at the LSI forum (in the Premium Content section) for members only. Signup here.*

Newborn Perfection - Interview with Amy McDaniel of Dewdrops Photography

When preparing this article, I took a serious trip down memory lane! It was actually quite fun, refreshing, and inspiring. You joined our forum in January 2012 which was not too far away from when you started in the industry as a business and only 3 months after LSI officially launched. I remember you vividly back then as a very motivated, determined lady and over the years I don’t believe I’ve witnessed that drive soften one bit. You’re an achiever!

It wasn’t long after joining that you became a serious force to be reckoned with in our image activities! Fast forward a few years and now you’ve got an army of 168k Facebook fans! You’re touring regularly to different parts of the world conducting workshops, mentoring, and inspiring others attempting to follow in your footsteps. What a journey it has been and you are so deserving of it. You make us so proud to have at least walked in an observing position of your amazing journey! Seems like just yesterday we were sending you our little LSI sign to help group other forum members up at Imaging 2013. My goodness time has flown by hasn’t it?

Ok, enough of my sappy moments. Time to ask you a few questions while we got you pinned!

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To start things off I decided to pull a few highlighting points from interviews you’ve done with us and other great sites in the past. This way we don’t get too overly repetitive on you or readers that may have already come across that information. Here is the quick lowdown:

• You are a wife & mother of two girls and one boy (Ryanne, Taylor and Braden)
• You live in Auburn, AL but are originally from McCleary, Washington
• Your children inspired you to become a photographer
• You used to be a travel agent
• You opened your photography business in 2010
• You are a Mac & shoot Canon
• You can whistle “freakishly loud”
• You can shoot Studio or Natural Light
• You have your own studio

Over the years, I’ve witnessed you fine-tune your style into the unique amazingness that it is today. It seemed in 2013/2014 is when you really began developing that definitive signature style that photographers dream of. The one that gives photographer enthusiasts such as myself the ability to choose your image out of a very large stack of un-watermarked similar style images (there is VERY few photographers this can honestly be said about).

Can you tell us anything in your thought process or training that helped you reach that point that so many others covet?

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People tell me that all the time but there isn’t one thing I can pinpoint. I’m extremely picky about hands and fingers and the way the light hits the baby’s face so that’s one thing I could probably point out. I like my images crisp with a little bit of an airy feel to them so that may be what others notice. There is also a fine balance when deciding how much I want to touch up the babies skin. I try to achieve a nice skin smoothing without losing texture.

In a short sentence, how would you describe your photography style.

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Simple, sweet, organic but colorful.

It goes without saying that teaching workshops and mentoring has become a primary role in your career and lifestyle. Does that leave you time for regular client paid studio sessions or has teaching taken over completely?

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Yes, I still have regular clients which are my main focus. I generally teach one workshop and 2-3 mentoring sessions a month which still leaves time for my local clientele whom I cherish and always hope to watch grow! Teaching is just as important to me because it takes so much of who I am because I want each student to learn as much as possible in the time we have together. I’m very active in my online group which is a huge component to my workshops and mentoring and the attendees continued success. I have to give a big thanks to my girls and one guy who really help each other out daily!

Along your journey, where there any pivotal points that you think were key to your success?

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Oh yes! Once I realized that I could be myself and not try to emulate others work! I still pull inspiration from so many but at the end of the day you have to create images that are meaningful to you.

After working so incredibly hard towards your professional goals, what has your career in the photography industry afforded you? I’m not referring money, boats, or airplanes… I’m speaking in terms of lifestyle, family, peaches and cream.

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I’ve always been passionate about traveling and experiencing what the world has to offer so getting to check things off my bucket list has been incredible. My teenage daughters have also had the privilege of traveling to new places that might not have been possible without becoming a teacher.

Have you learned any life lessons along your journey in terms of friendships, trust, family, or clients?

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This response is for members only and is available at our forum. Signup here.

If you could go back in time and change one thing since you’ve opened your business… what would it be?

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I would have invested in a 1:1 mentoring session or a workshop! It would have saved me so much time BUT I am happy to say that I’m self taught except for a few videos!

Have you had any dark, sad, or hard to get through moments that you feel comfortable with sharing that others might be able to relate too?

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This response is for members only and is available at our forum. Signup here.

Have you had any amazing, life-changing, happy moments that may have brought on a happy-dance or forever burned good lasting vibes in your memory?

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Well besides the births of my children, I guess it would have to be the reinforcements from my students. They are my cheerleaders!

Do you think you’ve found the right balance between work and life?

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Yes, this is the first year that I’ve been mostly free of mommy guilt. I don’t take on too many sessions and because I specialize in newborns then I’m not doing every family reunion or wedding inquiry I get:)

We know you’ve had the opportunity to offer workshops with some other amazing industry talents. Who were your top favorites and any plans to reunite with them again?

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I’ve taught with 3 other photographers and I’m happy to say that Nicole Smith and I are already planning our 2016 workshops together and Sandra Bianco will be doing another workshop this October! Both of these ladies are incredible teachers and I’m so honored to call them friends!

You’ve traveled to many states and several countries now. What area was your favorite so far? What did you enjoy most about the area? Where is a dream location(s) that you’ve not had a chance to make it to yet?

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I’ll get back to you in August after my trip to Cambridge, Amsterdam and Paris! Seattle is and has always been my favorite city though.

With all your traveling, do you bring any family members along with you or are you forced to leave them at home due to school scheduling, etc.?

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Answered above but yes! My family has been lucky enough to go to a few places with me!

Everyone knows that you’re a rock star in post processing as well. Do you have any tips or advice you’d pass on to others in regards to how you edit and finish these amazing art portraits? Perhaps a quick tip in Photoshop they might not know and could take their images up a notch.

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This response is for members only and is available at our forum. Signup here.

Do you have any tips for those handling newborns? Perhaps soothing, wrapping, or posing tips that might not be common knowledge?

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This response is for members only and is available at our forum. Signup here.

Your images are always so well balanced. Polished with rich and vibrant, yet earthy layers, textures, and colors. Have you found any prop or action vendors to be primary components of your recipes that you wouldn’t mind sharing?

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Real wood, quality textures and well fitting bonnets and clothing! I have several that I use on a regular basis such as Vanilla Lullaby, The Studio fabric backdrops, AR Backdrops, Knitz, Zoe and Oliver, Adorable Props, April’s Yarnables, Tanya’s Tangles, Veronica G and Pooks and Lulu just to name a few! My favorite action vendors are Greater than Gatsby and Twig and Olive.

What is a few specific go-to actions you’d recommend for photographers having troubles developing a finishing style?

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This response is for members only and is available at our forum. Signup here.

Any lighting gear you use and would be comfortable sharing details with our readers?

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This response is for members only and is available at our forum. Signup here.

Time to lighten things up a bit. Answer these questions as soon as they pop into your head. Answer honestly and no changes allowed!

What is the craziest ride you’ve been on at a theme park? The Ninja at Six Flags in Atlanta
Favorite adult beverage (coffee included)? Starbucks Carmel Macchiato
An embarrassing client session or teaching moment? Too embarrassing!
A recent favorite movie? Fast and Furious 7 (Cheesy I know.)
First actor or actress coming to mind? Brad Pitt….always
Life goal or dream related or unrelated to photography? For my children to become happy and healthy adults and to retire on a Lake in Washington State.

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Ok Amy…LOL. I think we’ve hammered you enough for one article. Thank you so much for participating and being part of our community. You are a legend in our books and we couldn’t be more proud to have known and stalked your amazing imagery for going on 4-5 years now!

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Please be sure you are following Amy on Facebook and keep up with her latest workshop offerings here.

 

* Please note – This is a public version and has some of Amy’s responses removed from the interview. The members only version includes all responses and is available at the LSI forum (in the Premium Content section) for members only. Signup here.*