We recently launched something brand new here to this space- Fount Community Spotlights!
HANNAH MANN PHOTOGRAPHY
I’m Hannah, a San Diego, CA based photographer. I’m wife to Justin, and mama to Adelaide (4) and Parker (2) and another little boy arriving early spring 2017. I love photographing people. I love capturing the connection and emotion between people and preserving it in a beautiful way. I love documenting family, friendships, and romance. I love illustrating love. Real life, real relationships, real people – all living real love stories. It’s a privilege and a joy to visually tell these stories for my clients to look back on for years to come.
How long have you been in business?
I began exploring photography right around the time my son was born, in fall 2014. I officially launched my business a few months later in early 2015, so I’ve been at this professionally for a little over a year and a half now.
Did you always want to be a photographer? Would you share a bit about your journey into photography with us?
I honestly never, ever considered being a photographer until right before I dove all in. I have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and worked as a software engineer for three years after college. I spent those years completely discontented, itching to get out of the monotony of an office, trying to figure out what I should be doing instead. I knew I needed to work, but couldn’t leave my babies for a job I didn’t enjoy. Somehow – really, I’m not even sure how – I realized photography was calling my name and seemed to be the perfect fit for my personality, interests, and my life as a wife and mother.
Learning a new career and starting a business right after having a second baby was not exactly the best idea – it was incredibly stressful! But it was also the perfect path for me to take, and the hard work and stress paid off. A few months after my son was born, I made my business official. I am a huge critic of my own work and totally a perfectionist about it, which has been discouraging sometimes, but also has really helped me to learn and grow in the field quickly. I am learning to harness my perfectionism to help me constantly improve, but also to give myself grace along the way.
What kind of camera did you have when you first started?
I started on a Canon Rebel that we already owned. I pretty quickly moved up to a Canon 5D – the original model – which was a huge improvement (and the camera I shot my first Fount feature on!). I’m not complaining about my current 5D MKIII though!
What would you say was a pivotal moment for you in your business?
When I first was starting my business, I constantly compared myself to other photographers who were incredibly talented, had booming businesses, and… had been doing this for years. When I learned to give myself grace, look at what I had learned instead of how far I had to go, and to define my own version of success – that made all the difference in my levels of stress and contentment. I realized that I didn’t even want what many of those photographers had (even though they’re awesome!) – I’m a mom to almost three little ones, and I treasure these years that I get with them at home, while they need me in a way that they never will again. For me, I have decided that success is a very healthy work/life balance, and less work than many other photographers I know. I’m happy this way, and my family is happy this way. Figuring out what success means on an individual level, rather than relative to other people, is incredibly freeing! Once I figured this out, my entire approach changed to the clients I sought out, the business decisions I made, and my goals for the future.
Image by Hannah Mann Photography
As a mother, do you have any advice for building a business while balancing the joys and demands of motherhood?
I mentioned this before, but for me personally, figuring out what success meant to ME was very important. For me, part of success means having a healthy work/life balance. I would never be happy if I thought I needed to work as much as other photographers do – either I would think I didn’t have enough clients if I didn’t work more, or I would take those clients and be totally stressed and miss my family. The balance is different for every mom, but for me, family life comes first, and I work around that and we’re all happier for it. As for actually getting work done during the day while kids are around – that is definitely difficult, but I’ve found that when I’m intentional about creating work time and creating work-free time, my kids and I are all happier. It’s better for us when work isn’t bleeding into all hours of the day, but has its own space.
Of course, with little kids, I’m never off-duty as mom, but at least my oldest does understand that there are times she needs to have independent activities and be patient when she wants something from me. And a final point, since I know I’ve struggled with this as a mom – it’s so important to keep our expectations realistic. Is it realistic for me to think I can keep up with my busy season, cook healthy dinners every night, keep my house clean and laundry done, exercise, keep my kids away from the TV and in weekly activities, and grow another baby? Not even close. If you’re able, seriously, good for you. But just because you think you see one mom doing it all doesn’t mean that you can. I know I can’t! So prioritize, lower your expectations (this may sound strange but is usually a really healthy thing for moms!), and give yourself grace. Lots and lots and lots of it. Don’t compare yourself to the Instagram moms with the styled homes, styled kids, styled hair, and huge businesses. We don’t need to do it all, and most of us can’t. So just find what works for you!
What’s in your camera bag today?
I’m most often found using my 5D MKIII, my Sigma 50mm 1.4, and my Canon 85mm 1.8. I also enjoy my Sigma 35mm 1.4 art and my Canon 100mm 2.0, but they come out most often at weddings.
When you aren’t behind the camera, what are your favorite hobbies?
In all honesty, I rarely have time for hobbies between work, family, and friends. When I have time, I love working on my own home decor or reading a book, but more often my free time is spent getting my kids out of the house, spending time with mine or my husband’s family, and getting together with friends. So maybe we could say that socializing is our hobby.
If you could photograph anyone in the world, who would it be?
Myself! Not a self-portrait, but I would like to clone myself and give myself a family session. Not because there aren’t extremely talented photographers out there who I could hire, but because I think it would be so eye opening to view myself from my clients’ perspective, and show me in a new way where I could improve and what I do well.
What does your editing playlist sound like?
95% of the time, silence! As a kid, I never understood why my mom didn’t want music on in the car all the time or in the background at home – I love music. But now, with my own kids? Silence is wonderful! So unless I’m falling asleep or my daughter is begging for some music to dance to, I really, really enjoy the quiet.
Image by Hannah Mann Photography
Where or When do you feel most inspired as an artist?
These days I don’t get the opportunity to do a whole lot of travel, but visiting new places is really inspiring to me. It could even be somewhere new in my own city, or somewhere we visit on one of our mini-vacations, or whatever. But switching up my location always inspires me.
What is your best piece of advice for a photographer who is just starting out?
I guess I feel strongly about this because a few answers have come back to this already – define your own success. What do you want out of your business and your art? It’s going to look different for everyone. And having this in mind will help keep you from comparing yourself to others or accidentally thinking that you need to be doing something different than you’re actually doing. It doesn’t mean that you’ll succeed overnight, but it will free you to stay focused on your own goals and what is best for YOU and for YOUR business. You don’t need to do what it looks like everyone else is doing. Also – hang in there!
Image by Hannah Mann Photography
What do you want people to say about your work long after you’re gone?
What I want most of all, is not so much for something to be said, but for something to be felt – I want my clients to look at their photos and still be able to recall the love and emotion present in the moment that was captured, even as the years soften the details. I want their children and grandchildren to be able to see it too – for a child I photographed as a newborn to look at those photos as an adult and feel the adoration his or her parents felt for their new baby, or for a grandchild to see their grandparents’ wedding photos and not be able to miss the looks of tender, young love on their faces. When my clients tell me that they cried when they saw their photos, or that I perfectly captured who they are, then I know I have done exactly what I set out to do. And that is what I hope will be remembered.