Thursday, April 28, 2011

Photographer Interview: Molly Flanagan

Molly Flanagan is one of the coolest girls I have ever interviewed.

I love her pictures and her style.

I love the way she sees the world.

Most of all I love the way she finds the love.

When did you fall in love with taking pictures?  
It wasn't until my son started crawling that I decided to save up for a dSLR.  I was so frustrated with how slow the lag time was between pressing the shutter and the picture actually taking on my point-and-shoot.  I got plenty of pictures of the back of his head!  Once I bought my first dSLR (canon rebel xti) I was on a mission to learn how to use it without depending on the flash.  So I never did use my camera in auto.

How do you organize your time when you are editing and shooting a session? 

 Well, with a 4 year old, 2 year old, and one on the way, time isn't easy to come by.  I work around my husband's schedule, so I only book 2 sessions a month.  Those are usually on Saturday mornings or evenings.  As far as editing, I have tried really hard to speed up my workflow and analyze each step to see where I am wasting time.  This year I got a super duper fast computer and that has helped tremendously!  I usually edit during the kids naptime, and in the evening if my husband has to work late.  
What has been your favorite shoot so far? 


Oh goodness, I have no idea.  I am not trying to be diplomatic, but I have honestly enjoyed every session I have had so far.  Even the tough ones I come away from having learned something valuable.  But if I HAD to pick one, maybe this session.  The mom asked me to follow them around for a couple of hours.  I loved just crawling around on the floor with them, letting them show me life from their perspective.  And the mom got a couple of hours to just putz around in the kitchen... sort of like a free babysitter!  
Do you have a dream shoot you would love to do someday? Tell us the details. 
 I don't think it really matters who the people are, what they look like, or where they live.  I would love to just spend the day shooting a family that completely let their guard down and allowed me to capture them for who they really are.  The happy bits.  The frustrating bits.  Just being themselves.  Oh, and their house would have beautiful light.  That would be my only other "dream session" condition.    

How would you say you have changed as a photographer from your very first shoot until now?  

I definitely shoot from my heart more now, and am more conscious of the story images tell rather than getting the prettiest picture.  My very first shoot was for a friend's Christmas cards.  We met in a park and it was VERY posed.  I also remember being really proud that I put a lens flare in one of the pictures in photoshop.  Yikes!  It didn't take long for me to realize that I was not comfortable with super posed, traditional photography.  

I knew I really wanted to take pictures for people, but I would come away from family sessions dissatisfied.  It seemed more like going to the dentist than capturing "happy family moments".  Moms worried about their hair, snapping at their kids for smiling weird.  Dads glancing at their watches wondering when they could get back to watching the game.  And me working my butt off shaking rattles and making poop jokes to get the kids to look at me.  I wanted to take the kind of pictures for other people that I took for myself... more documenting life than creating some perfect fantasy family.  

Over time, I have fallen more and more in love with shooting in people's homes.  Every corner contains a memory.  Having a family isn't easy and contentment is something that needs to be cultivated.  Capturing memories in photographs is a great way to preserve those cherished moments.  And it is a complete honor for me to play a part in preserving those memories!    
Is pricing hard for you? What do you use to help you decide what to charge?  
Pricing is so hard!  After my first 6 months in business, I came to the realization that I was paying strangers to let me take pictures for them!  Not cool!  It has been difficult finding a good balance between charging what my time is worth, covering all of the expenses in running a photography business, and also providing packages & product options that suit my style of photography.  

I am not trying to become a millionaire, but running a photography business is a lot more work than people realize.
You are having a new baby. Do you love being pregnant? Or are you one of those girls that only does it for the end result : )  
Eh, depends on the day.  I really shouldn't complain because I have wonderful pregnancies.  But the whole gaining weight thing... nothing fits right... that part is not fun.  Also getting kicked in the bladder... not cool.  But there is something amazing about having a life growing inside of you!  It is miracle!  And a great excuse to take an afternoon nap.      
Are the kids excited about the new baby?  
VERY.  They have been wonderful and always want to talk to their little brother through my belly button... telling him everything he needs to know to prepare him to be a big kid.  
How do the kids feel about having the camera with you all the time?  

They are actually great about it.  They don't really like to pose for me, but as I said previously, posing isn't really my thing.  I'd much rather catch them just being themselves.  
How did you decide on your printer? 
 Trial and error.  I tried several and finally found one that seemed to work best with my colors.  I went to a trade show and saw lots of samples from different printers too.  That really helped me wrap my head around all the different products available (i.e. canvases, albums, coffee table books, etc).     
What are your favorite actions to use?  
Kellie Hatcher's b&w presets for sure!  And sometimes I use Jesh De Rox color shift actions.  There are also a couple of actions by Lilyblue that I like a lot.    
What is something you do in regards to your photography that helps you grow? 
 I used to love to draw.  I remember I would start a picture and then crumple it up because it wasn't perfect.  Then one day I decided to just keep working at, and when I stopped giving up, I got a lot better.  I make mistakes, my pictures and editing are far from perfect, but I just try not to over think things.  If I start to think about how I stink, I stop being creative. So I just do my best to forget I am holding a camera and become an observer.  
Why did you decide on Canon? Have you had any focusing issues ever?   
I had a Nikon film camera in college  When I was buying my first dSLR, I just decided to try something new and went with Canon.  Plus the lenses were a little cheaper.  I didn't really put a lot of thought into it.  The whole "Nikon vs Canon" thing sort of irritates me.  I think they are both fabulous cameras.  Sort of like Toyota or Honda... either way, you can't really go wrong.  

And, no, I haven't had any focusing issues.  I do use the center focus point most of the time though.  I did get a Eg-S matte focus screen for my camera and I think that has helped me nail my focus more when shooting wide open.     
How often do you get your camera cleaned?  
Geez, way to call me out.  Um, never?  I really need to, but just haven't had time.  I don't want to be without my camera!  
If someone called you and said "Why should I pick you to shoot my wedding or my baby or my Grandma or my house..." what would you tell them?  Why should someone choose you?  
I feel like I am running for student body president!  "If you vote for me... free pizza for everyone!!!!"  I think if someone called me and felt they had to ask that question, then I am not the photographer for them.  Most of my clients hire me because they want ME to take their pictures.  They want their everyday life documented.  They are not looking for an idealized fantasy... but something that represents who they really are.  They have a passion for their home, a deep love for their family, and want that connection to come across in their pictures.    

Do you have a favorite song that is playing right now we can all jam along with as we read?
  Nope, just the sound of my son watching "The Littles" on Netflix.  Although it does have a jam worthy theme song!

What is your favorite thing about having a little boy? 
 I love how he plays with his toys.  Cogan is almost 5.  He sets up these elaborate scenes all over his room, train tracks, dinosaurs, army men, sticks and leaves from the yard.  He has a very complex imagination!  
What is your favorite thing about having a little girl?  
Ugh, Ruby is 2 1/2. Right now the sweet moments feel few and far between.  But I love her little voice... when she is being nice.  It makes me smile to hear her talking to her toys.  In the bath last night she was telling the plastic shark that he wasn't big enough to swim by himself.  He was arguing back that he certainly was big enough!    
What did you major in at college?  
Elementary Education with a minor in Psychology.  I taught first grade for 1/2 a year, hated it, then worked for the YMCA helping run afterschool programs and summer camps until my son was born.  **shameless plug*** I love the YMCA... and if you like to exercise the Y is a great place to join because your membership fees help fund programs for your community (they also have scholarships available, so don't say you can't afford it).    
What is your favorite thing about living in South Carolina?  
Sweet tea... I couldn't live without it!

Do you have a second shooter for weddings and such? Do you ever wish you had a special partner in crime like Sarah (Image Bearers) and Rosina do? 

 I do have a special partner in crime!  One of my best friends, Erin of Erin Drago Photography, lives less than a mile from me and is FORCED to second shoot for me at all my weddings!  I think I might not book a wedding if she couldn't be there!  
You use 2 prime lenses: the 24mm and the 50mm. Can you tell us what you like about each one? Which one stays on your camera the most?  
I love the 24mm for indoors.  It is a great storytelling lens and stays on my camera all the time around the house and for indoor sessions.  The 50mm stays on my camera for most outdoor sessions.  I love how creamy and beautiful the light looks with the 50mm.    
If you had to pick to shoot in either color or black and white for one whole week- what would you choose? 

Hmm, probably black and white.  I think black & white really helps you pay attention to the emotion in a photograph.  I like this quote by Ted Grant - “When you photograph people in colour you photograph their clothes.  But when you photograph people in B&W, you photograph their souls.
Do you have any special bloggers that inspire you?  

Well, right now the Pioneer Woman's recipes have been inspiring me!  That is one nice thing about being pregnant, I have a newfound love for cooking!  I like to visit Sarah Rhodes, The Parsons, Pobke Photography, Wildflowers Photography.  And a bunch more, but those are ones that always make me smile.  
It seems like you embrace the noise in your pictures. I love that. How did you come to do that?  
I love the texture grain adds to pictures.  So I don't mind a gritty look... makes it feel more... real.  Like a comfortable old shoe.    

How often do you get pictures printed? Are your walls covered with your art?
  Unfortunately, I don't have pictures printed very often.  Up until a few months ago, all the pictures in our house were taken with my old point-and-shoot!  But, over the last year I have been trying to fix that and now I have some pieces hanging that I really, really love!  
Do you have a million ideas for newborn pictures? Is there anything you are dying to try?
  Actually, no!  I have a lot of respect for good newborn photographers, but that just isn't for me.  I am hoping to do a picture-a-day for the first month...document the comings and goings of our home... and what it is like having a new baby around.  Hopefully I will be able to follow through with it!  
If you could just give someone that was starting out one piece of advice, what would you say?
  Learn as much as you can.  Read books, magazines, blogs, don't be afraid to ask other photographers questions, even if they tell you to buzz off.  Google everything.  And practice all the time!  

Don't you love her?
Go and visit.
You will click away inspired.
Molly Flanagan Website
Molly Flanagan Photography on Facebook
Molly on Flickr (Pink Goldfish)


Tamar SB said...

Wow! Her pictures are absolutely stunning, stunning!! Thank you for sharing, they put a smile on my half asleep face!


Buckeroomama said...

LOVE this! Love the interview, love her photos. =)

Sarah said...

Oh wow!! What amazing photos! Gorgeous! I love her photos and her answers. Great interview.

keli [at] kidnapped by suburbia said...

beautiful interview with a most beautiful person!!!

Lisa said...

Oh! I loved this interview! It was fabulous. I learned so much. AGAIN! and you know what? I live in the same town as this lady.

Once again you have inspired me. I love the natural feel of not posing and I have been really trying to learn more about my camera that I keep dropping. Oh! only if you could see the thing...It's held together with a hair tie. But, I do love it.

Thanks Becky for such a great post!


Formerly known as Frau said...

Amazing pictures and wonderful interview. I love that every interview was such amazing talent and different to see her website.

Matty said...

Molly comes through as so warm and personable. And real. I especially liked her answer to why anyone would choose her as their photographer.

Her pictures really capture life as it happens, rather than posed. I like that feeling.

Pam D said...

Becky, how do you find all of these incredible people? Oh my GOODNESS! Molly is so grounded, and it comes through in the way she captures life. I love so many of her quotes, especially the one about black and white. And I love her confidence in who she is and what she does. So many of us struggle to find our niche, but she's already there, and she's even got it all decorated and fluffed. :<) Molly, your eye is impeccable and your work is beautiful... you are a true artist! (and wow... the part about drawing, and throwing it away, and then finally getting better once she stopped quitting... just wow, that is profound!)

Red Chestnut Photography said...

Wow. Of all the interviews and photographers I have "met" in recent months, this interview of Molly affected me the most! Your questions were well thought Becky, creative and insightful! I felt I was challenged and intrigued by her unique style more then by any one photographer in ages! So much of what she said truly fascinated me and the images were so everyday yet extraordinary!! I am so glad to have met Molly! Thank you both for sharing!

Dot O said...

Molly sounds like a gem! I love her photos of capturing moments and not poses. That's one of those things I'd like to push a rewind button for. My memories of day-to-day life with my kids are growing hazy. I remember snippits of what they'd do for fun and I so wish I caught those moments on film.

What a great interview of a wonderful photographer!

Jane said...

This is to much prettiness for one post. She is wonderful.

April said...

I really appreciate her style of photography. I love how she tries to capture people "in the moment", rather than having them pose unnaturally. She definitely gets two thumbs up from me...and so do you!

Karen O'Donnell said...

Wow Becky, your interview skills are growing and growing. I love your style. And Molly Flanigan is my new hero!

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

Yes, as a matter of fact, I DO love her! What a fantastic interview. I LOVE that you capture the photographer as well as the girl herself!

Molly - your eye is impeccable.Your method is inspiring. And.... (dum-dum-dum) I have a Ruby, too!

Oh wait, one more thing: I also have a 2.5 year old, so thank you for reminding me that I'm not alone in that particular madness. :)

Maddy said...

Oh my goodness! I'm in love with her photos!! The way she effortlessly captures the love in each of her photos is MAGIC!!

Allison Hoffman said...

great interview - and you were right, I do love, love her style. I loved the quote about B & W. and I truly need to take to heart what she said about her drawings. I need to stop throwing away stuff that isn't perfect before I finish, work through the imperfections and learn!

Farmgirl Paints said...

okay i'm officially smitten. love her quirky off beat style and the different angles she uses. when will i ever actually get artsy with the picture taking thing...LOVE the artsy!!

all of them were amazing. thanks again for these so inspiring!

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I am in awe! Wonderful ideas! Wonderful pictures! Great interview!

Just Bits and Pieces said...

Absolutely gorgeous!!!! Fantastic interview!!! Thank you!~

Susan said...

Yes, yes, yes!! I do love her! Her passion and love shows in all her gorgeous shots.

I love her style too. Just amazing.

Great interview too.

Thanks again Becky, sure know how to serve up some awesome stuff for us!!

The Animator's Wife said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Animator's Wife said...

Love this girl-- her work AND her heart! Also love that Grant quote, Mol. good one.

Another great interview Becky... I also appreciate the shameless plug, you crack me up! xoxo

blue elephant photography said...

love the lighting on her photos =) and the ones with textures too!

Grandma J said...

Wow, Molly is quite the photographer.

I still like the way your photos warm my heart.

good job interviewing Molly.

the monkeys' mama said...

wow wow wow. gorgeous! and that Chick Fil A biscuit wants me to run out there right now and buy one...not that i only took away the image of a contraire, her photographs and her answers are incredible!

Angela Chandler said...

Love Molly!! So happy for her that you decided to interview her! I have shot with her, been shot by her, viewed her incredible work for a LONG time now...and really, she just gets better and better. Rock on, friend!

Linh + Tina said...

i DO love her! she has been an inspiration of mine for about a year now, i just love how she captures the realness. great interview!

Jennifer @ Studio JRU said...

Her shots are so beautiful... and creative! You are right, she does find the love! I love the baby covering her face. Adorable! Thank you for introducing us to talented and sweet Molly! :)

Busy Bee Suz said...

Beautiful...all her photos are so magical.
The one of the older couple hugging make my heart sing. I also loved the one of the split shot of the two kids rooms...they were in each room separately playing alone. SO cute.

Erin W said...

Sigh....just love this, love!!! I've been following Molly's blog for a while & on fb I love how her photos show SO much emotion! So inspirational. Thanks for sharing with us Molly- love your work!!!

Dina @ 4 Lettre Words said...

LOVE all the hands and feet in those photos. So beautiful!

kelli c photography said...

One of my favorite people in this world! Love ya Molly! Beautiful interview!

MarshaMarshaMarsha said...

I love how you capture the beauty in the everyday, Molly! I have been praying and searching for which direction my photography should go, you have definitely inspired and encouraged me just by being you!

Suki said...

Wonderful pictures. I love her style.

Skeller said...

I adore Molly and her photographic vision. hehe, "creating some perfect fantasy family" ... :-} Molly's images just plain make me happy - they so perfectly celebrate everyday-life and all its nuances.

shawna [of styleberryBLOG] said...

love Molly & the way she sees the world! :) Beautiful body of work, lady! & thanks for the interview, Becky!! :) *s

My Photographic Eye by Irela said...

Love her and her vision. Her photography (art) is beautiful and inspiring. Thank you for sharing. :)

Tracy P. said...

Such strong, gorgeous images! But she had me at daffodils! What a super sweet shot. Beautiful!

Rebecca said...

Molly, so many of your photos make me smile! Nice work.

Melinda said...

I love when a photographer's portraits portray their souls - Molly obviously has a very beautiful soul!

Great interview, Becky!

sayed said...

nice blog
if u pls c

Drew said...

This interview was outstanding. I love that Molly has made a business out of capturing everyday unposed moments. My kind of gal!

Kayce said...

Great interview! LOVED the answer to the "why should I pick you to shoot my...."! Beautiful story telling Molly!

Housewife on Fire said...

I'm honestly speechless! She's my favorite EVER!

I have literally been reading this interview and going over and over the pictures for the last 45 minutes.

I am in love I tell ya,
In LOVE! {And smiling from ear to ear.}

Housewife on Fire said...

Okay, well, I WAS speechless, but now I have shifting into gushing mode.

She is so GREAT!

Ha ha :)

Ky said...

She's a great photographer.
You know Becky, it never ceases to amaze me when I look at all the photos on blogs and in the interviews, how many different photography styles there are. Everyone has a different eye and it's just beautiful.
You could have a hundred photographers taking the same photo and they'd all turn out differently with perspective and settings and editing. I love it!!! said...

love, love, love...I want to be her when I grow up. :)

Carol said...

She has an amazing style and gift. I feel inspired just from reading!

Christina said...

She seems like a great lady and she is a wonderful photographer...inspiring! :)

Rachel said...

Breathtaking images! I love them!

photowannabe said...

Stunning photos with so much personality. Thanks for sharing the interview. I like her independence and shooting what gives her pleasure.

Jen said...

I love those pictures! This post was so fun!

Elaine A. said...

This may be my favorite interview yet. AMAZING images. I aspire to be like Molly. Someday maybe.... I am in true awe. She has quite the eye for photography!!

Teachinfourth said...

She has a really amazing style...

Casey Freeland said...

I love the noisy embrace too! I have no idea what that means, but these photographs are wonderful. The black widow wins. I assume that's a black widow. If not, it should be. Gorgeous.



Melissa Stover said...

this was fabulous. her work is so inspiring!

Christine said...

AWWWWW so exciting! loved reading molly's interview and seeing all her lovely photos. :) thanks for the shoutout as well, Molly! :) xoxo

Jessica Deane said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE Molly's work. She inspires me to capture the everyday moments in every post of hers!!

Kelly Polizzi said...

I love these interview posts and was wondering if you were still doing them? If so, do you take requests to be featured? I'd love to do one personally. And for suggestions, Maria Manco is an awesome storytelling photographer like Molly Flanagan. As is Heather Robinson and Colie James. All of which can be found on FB.

My email is if you want to get in touch :) I've enjoyed reading through your archives very much, thanks!