BE INSPIRED SESSION | Azure Mahara Photography

Tell us a bit about your approach to the work you do, your time in the business and a few personal facts about you.

I give subtle direction in shoots and, for the most part, I let the subject pose naturally because I feel it helps show their personality vs just a straight portrait. Having said that, if it’s just not working I will say so and move along to a different spot or have them even shake it out and try again. I give a lot of praise when it is working because that helps bring out their confidence and therefore results in a better photograph. I minored in photography in college but didn’t really jump full force into it until about 3 years ago and back in that day I made some questionable choices in editing, as I’m sure most of you can relate with. (What?! I can make this SUPER colorful!? AWESOME…except it wasn’t.) Every year I focus on where I want to grow as a photographer, I analyze my work to an obsession and then focus my energy into being better in that area until I feel there is noticeable growth. I will never stop learning and hopefully will never stop growing as an artist. I share my art because I have to, because it drives me and because it gives me life in a way.

What makes you the most nervous during a session?

I am the most nervous when I’m driving to the session, I get inside my own head and think of the things that could go wrong and how I would handle them. I worry about dropping my lenses and breaking them because, let’s be honest, I’m a clutz.

 What about this session was most memorable?

When Lovely, the model, was wearing that giant tutu she kept getting caught on all the metal objects around the shop so when we moved from spot to spot I had her jump on my back. I gave her a piggy back rides so she didn’t have to risk ripping her dress or tripping on it.

 Were there any hurdles?

The lighting was tricky, one wall of windows on a semi cloudy day that kept changing, add in warehouse lighting and no flash or use of lighting equipment – you can imagine how many times I had to check my settings and change it up. Luckily we weren’t rushed by the owner of Milwaukee Blacksmith, who sat calmly to the side with a glass of whiskey, brought us chairs/stools when needed and even made some sparks with her son when I requested. She also may or may not have helped mom, the stylist of the entire session, make hot dogs on the forge. After all, this is the midwest and we just roll with it here, you’re hungry? Here’s a hot dog and stick – now go cook it on that super hot iron fire over there. This was a true collaboration, the stylist, the location, the model and I all just meshed perfectly and it just worked. It just came out beautifully and that trumped any hurdles.

Your best photographer/session advice?

Don’t give up. (Yeah I know, real original right?) To go deeper than that – if a shot isn’t working don’t be afraid to walk away from it, rethink it. Go back to it. If you have an idea in your mind and it doesn’t work think about why, make the tweaks you need to and try again. Let the session take on it’s own life, follow it’s lead and go with the flow – don’t force it. Don’t copy, be inspired and always be inspired. Give credit to your inspiration. This business is hard. Support, don’t compete but be driven to make something in your own way/space/time that speaks. Imagine what we could accomplish if we all supported each other as artists?

What is one goal for your business ?

I would love to teach. I adore helping aspiring photographers and hope that every single person I guide becomes better than I am because that only means I am good at helping create more art for the world. There is a lot of ugliness out there, I support the growth of beauty, creativity and sharing our gifts.

What gear and any presets used or hand editing?

I used a Mark IV and a Sigma Art 20 mm for the entire session, which I did not set out to do but not once did I feel the shot didn’t need that wide perspective. I used SMAL presets with a lot of tweaking and then some hand editing. I am not one to over edit someone’s face or skin, I find that all people are beautiful in their own right, the human body is so insanely powerful in all shapes, sizes and colors. If someone is self conscious about something I take it as a challenge to show them how amazing that feature is to the outside world.


Photography has changed the way I see the world around me, it has made me focus on details, textures and beautiful light in ever second of every day. (Except when my children are screaming and running around like crazed squirrels, then I can’t really focus on much of anything.) I am a mom of three humans, one of which I am nursing while trying to type this, and two dogs living in Milwaukee, WI. I am a lover of nature, all forms of art and people. I’m okay with life moving slowly because that’s when I notice the most breathtaking everyday things all around me. I love music, home decorating, my family and plants – I have several plants and if I didn’t have a photography business I’d likely open a greenhouse. I am a natural light photographer, well let’s say 90% of the time anyway – I always have an external flash with me at weddings, just in case. Fun fact: I can whistle and hum at the same time. Which, really, only my children think is cool. Thanks for making it this far, I am truly honored to be featured on Dear Photographer.



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