Our team at Mocha Club loves working and living in Nashville, Tennessee – a place known for it’s community and the inspiration from it’s members. These individuals are the best in their craft and we want to share them with you! This blog series features locals that inspire us through their unique/beautiful/innovative…we could go on and on..approach to life, business and community. We love their businesses and want to showcase them in this new series – where simply, we want to inspire others by what inspires us.
Maddy Harper :: Madeline Harper Photography
What motivated you to start your business, and how has it grown since it began?
I have always had a passion for stories- hearing the lives of others, stepping in to invest in that story, and then sharing it in an impactful way. My heart is drawn to finding beautiful in the ordinary, whether that be a chance to create or adventure or form a relationship. It was these two loves that prompted me to start a business that was equally about telling stories and creating beauty. I started this business in college as a side project, while volunteering for Young Life and finishing a business degree. I knew that one day I wanted to go full time, a dream that required a lot of faith filled risk and hard work. Every year that I invested in this business it grew exponentially. I started off shooting any and every event I could, from high school ministry to engagements. I had some dear friends who took the first risk of letting me capture their wedding day. It’s actually hilarious to look back at photos from the start of my business over three years ago and compare them with photos today! I took time to learn the craft from others much more accomplished than I, spent hours behind a camera practicing on my ever patient friends and family, and sought to continue learning and telling the stories of everyone I knew. Since then, it’s expanded to become a dream realized, as I am now a full time photographer
How has the Nashville community embraced your business?
Mocha Club was actually the first Nashville community to welcome me with open arms! While interning for y’all I met so many wonderful people who would speak life and encouragement into this endeavor. Plus, I got to capture my first Nashville wedding for one of Mocha Club’s very own! Since then, I have met a large number of talented creatives in this city who are promoting collaboration instead of competition who have greatly inspired as well as added to my business’s growth.
Is there any way that your business has given back, to the community or in some other way?
I love the wedding industry, it would be easy and natural to be solely focused on that world. But part of my dream for this business is to document stories for non-profits and mission groups. I have had the joy of going to Nicaragua to document medical missions for an incredible organization, Palmetto Medical Initiative, as well as go to Uganda to capture stories of orphan care for The Archibald Project. These two opportunities have only fueled my love and desire for collaborating with businesses who give back and use their voices for the good of others! In addition, I’ve been able to collaborate with Mocha Club on a few occasions and even had the joy of photographing Ellie’s Run for Africa this year!
What is special about the way you shoot and why do you do it this way?
The way I shoot is very organic and natural. I am all about candid photos! I believe beauty is found in the details: spontaneous and uncontrollable laughter between loved ones, a moment of contemplation before a marriage vow, a look of determination when working for a cause bigger than oneself. I try to stage as little as possible, but shoot mainly from a documentary style. Beauty is all around us without any need of manipulation. I also believe that having a relationship with your subject helps you capture their character in a way that is intimate and authentic. I love to learn about whoever it is I am photographing, whether a couple before their big day or a kid in the Ugandan childcare system.
Where does all of your experience and knowledge of photography come from?
I was incredibly lucky to intern under a great friend and mentor, Michelle Boyd, out of Austin, TX. She poured into my education of the art of photography and being a business owner alike. I’ve had the chance to second shoot and learn from an incredible photography community in that city. The main influence on my business, however, is my sister Meredith, owner of Bristol Lane. It is her business acumen and ability to push creative boundaries that urge me to grow the most. I’m in awe of being related to her. However, there is nothing like hands on experience. I learn every time I pick up my camera. I learn from every mistake I make along the way, because being a first time business owner you are always growing and adapting and bound to put your foot in your mouth a time or two. I learn from every shoot, business meeting, and creative friend. There is more enough business and inspiration to go around, seek the spaces and community that help you grow the most and invest in them!