Describe yourself in your own words?

I am an avid Sour Patch Kid snacker, I have been known to sleepwalk, and I’ve always been a bit driven as an entrepreneur.

What inspired you to become a photographer?

I join with millions of other women when I say ‘I had my first child…and WANTED great pictures of her!’.  Now that I look back, I realize I had signs of suffering from postpartum depression, and I thank my lucky stars that my husband saw those signs.  I had left a busy, fulfilling, award-filled job as a band director, and dove straight into the world of motherhood!  My ache for creativity and productivity was a burden.  My sweet husband worked hard to find me a creative outlet and bought me the two greatest gifts I could have been given at that time.  A DSLR + a Shooting in Manual course.  Life-changing, I tell you.  My spirits lifted, my bond with my new baby increased, and my need for creativity was fulfilled!  The journey of becoming a photographer launched from there as I took more classes, gained more skills, and dove head first into business!

Christmas 2014-390

What made you decide to create TPE?

I saw a need for myself as a new photographer.  Photographers needed help – PERSONAL help.  There are a hundred places to take photography classes, but I searched for a place that would help me learn and grow according to MY goals, MY definition of success, and MY current skills.  I took a huge leap of faith in creating a place that photographers could call personal.  I have been the photographer who has made $60 per session.  I have been the photographer who has pocketed over $4000 for a session – and yet both were successful experiences for me due to where I was at the time.  Success has unique definitions for all of us, and they are all valid and good! Making photography education personal and closer to a one-on-one experience isn’t business savvy because it Lacks efficiency.  I suppose efficiency wasn’t my #1 objective.  Bluntly:  I don’t care.  Connecting with other photographers, and boosting them in their journey was and is the goal, and I stand firmly behind it!     

There are other educational sites out there for photographer’s. What is it about TPE that sets it apart from the rest?

I remember years ago..sometime around 2010, my carr got stuck in the snow in good ol’ Logan, UT.  My husband was at work and I had my little baby in the car with me.  My parents were out of the country, and I couldn’t seem to find anyone to help.  The thing that was particularly frustrating was that earlier that morning I had a friend of mine comment about how I had SO MANY friends on Facebook.  “Lucky me”, right?  Yet, here I sat with no one I felt comfortable enough to call for help.  Yeah, that 1,200+ friend number was doing me a WHOLE lot of good.  Yuck.  How that relates to TPE?  We are here to create personalized pathways, and for friendships that are real-deal.  Help you get out of the snow real-deal.  We focus a lot on that aspect of our community.  I hope my vision of creating a highly personalized experience has reached people.  There is nothing more lonely than photography.  I do not believe the thought that the industry is over-saturated.  I just don’t!  I feel there is room for success for all of us, on so many levels.  TPE really dives deep down to help you discover what you are possible of doing!  It is an incredible thing to be a part of.  We can be involved in hundreds of facebook groups with other photographers…and still feel lonely.  We can attend conferences, and still come home lonely.  I want to take the loneliness out of the budding photographers soul and squeeze them for all they are worth!  You are worth it! 

Guse 2015-21-2

It is no secret that balance between personal and work is tough. How do you nurture both?

I would imagine every mom struggles with balance – whether it is between personal and work, or family and hobbies.  I began to get too busy with the day to day operations of TPE, because I’m not gifted with organization or efficiency…so I hired it out.  It has saved my life.  I have a team of women who do what they do best, and TPE is forever better because of them, and my kids are happier too!  For those who wonder just how time consuming it is, I work M-F for about 3-4 hours per day.  Since taking weekends off, and hiring out some of the “less-productive” aspects of TPE that I struggle with, things have become much more manageable!  I am still working at it! 

Who has been your biggest inspiration in the photography world?

I can never sing her praises enough:  Brooke Snow.  She was my mentor from the very beginning, and my life has been forever changed because of her.  She is a mentor who not only believes in you, but will sacrifice her own time, efforts, money to help you see what is possible.  She truly has been the greatest gift to me in this world of photography.  I continue to be inspired by her new podcast series with Sarah Bray “Every Branch.”  She has found yet another avenue to bless the lives of so many!  

What advice do you have for a beginning photographer who is trying to find their own style?

Keep creating, keep educating yourself, and find a mentor.  Sue Bryce said on periscope last week that if your calendar is empty “You Keep Creating!”  I love how our courses are structured in a way that it combines creating with education, plus the option of a mentor!  I do think it is the most propelling way forward to finding what makes your heart soar as an artist!  

Shayla Archibale - Beauty Revived-535

What’s the biggest mistake you have made thus far?

Letting the tough guys get me down.  Being in business, there will always be critics.  Critics that roll their eyes that you are sharing your ideas, roll their eyes at your techniques, or shake their heads at your approach at photography.  Have I gotten nasty emails?  Yep.  Mean FB comments, you bet!  Luckily, as TPE has rolled along those comments are coming fewer and far between.  My approach to surviving those moments is to surround yourself with people who will cheer you on!  There is nothing more lonely than being in a lonely field like photography, then being criticized for it.  You need friends to pull you out of those funky times, and remind you of what is possible!  I have so many friends like that – inside TPE, and outside of TPE, that I know cheer me on!  (Psst!  if any of you feel lonely – I will be your cheerleader!!)  

And last, what has surprised you the most about your journey in photography?

I graduated from BYU in Music Education.  I suppose the thing that has surprised me the most is that I am now teaching photography!  I never in 100 years would have guessed that this would be part of my path, but I would not trade it for the world!  I am excited to see where this adventure takes me! 

March 2014-116-2

DID YOU ENJOY THIS POST? You can have all our blog posts delivered straight to your inbox or feed reader. Just click here. It’s never been so easy to stay educated, informed, and inspired!

Meagan Opel

Meagan is a wife, mother of three, animal hoarder, and passionate photographer. She hates wearing shoes, loves Murder She Wrote, and is starting an adventure in dutch oven cooking.

She started down the road of photography with a gentle push from her husband and hasn’t looked back. She loves being able to capture those “real life” moments that can slip by in the blink of an eye. Like most photographers with kids, Meagan became fascinated (obsessed) with photographing her children from second she laid eyes on them, and loves helping others hone their photography skills to better capture their own children.

Meagan is our instructor for Get Grounded in Photoshop, and is also our official Operations Queen. She keeps everyone organized, scheduled, and on track with blogging, Happy Hour, Extra Credit, communication, customer service, and anything else that keeps TPE operating on a day to day basis just for you!

When she isn’t working for TPE, running her own business, or running after her own three small kiddos she enjoys being outdoors, cooking, spending time with her animals, and swimming.