Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and join me in hearing about Emily Magers journey as a California photographer. She’s launched her own E-courses, has garnered an Instagram following of 40k +, and travels all over for her business. I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily and learning more about her background. This is a great read for anyone who is thinking about launching a business or taking a creative gig full-time.
To start, can you tell us a little bit about yourself. This can be anything from your favorite coffee, your family, your passions, etc.
I’m a national park lover, wife to my best friend, and 100% unhealthy-obsessed with my English bulldog, River and Mini Goldendoodle, Ezra.
When I’m not out photographing some of the most beautiful souls on the planet, you can usually find me watching New Girl; dancing in the kitchen with my husband, Jeff, while cooking dinner; or creating a space for community to dwell in our home.
Jeff and I love being outdoors but also snuggling up on the couch by the fireplace. I’m always looking for new home decor, the next dog to pet, anything rust-colored, or an excuse to take an after-breakfast nap (I promise it’s a thing).
And whether you and I are getting vulnerable over coffee, hitting the road for an adventure, or telling your story through photos, I’m here to make sure you feel fully seen and deeply loved.
I’m all about:
- Life in community
- Good books
- Handwritten notes
- Travel (especially national parks!)
- Amazon Prime (can I get an amen?)
- My sweet pups River & Ezra
Can you tell us how you got into photography? Did you always think that it would become your full-time job one day? Or did you have another career path in mind?
I truly believe my life, my marriage, and the work I do today are all because of God. He knew photography was my calling long before I did, and he gave me the courage to drop out of my college astrophysics program and run wholeheartedly toward a job that allows me to serve and love people every day. So in short, nope, never thought I would be doing anything creative wise!
I was always really good at school and loved numbers and science until my Jr year of college. I felt The Lord tell me He wanted me to pursue photography full time as my ministry. Laughing in His face, I said maybe after I finish college because I believed the lie that I needed a degree to have worth in the working world. Well, with a ton of fighting Him on this, I finally left college mid-semester in obedience and haven’t ever looked back. Was it the scariest thing I have ever done? Yup! But trusting God is always worth it in the end. Easy? No. Worth it? Yes.
You talk about ‘capturing the humanity of moments’ what do you mean by this and how does it make your photography stand apart?
To me, community has been my entire heart since I can remember. I loved doing life alongside people, getting to the core of who they are and loving them through every mountain top and valley. To me, I want my work to feel a lot like stepping into each person’s love story. Where they’ve been and where they are going. What makes each couple really THEM.I believe that every love story is different and deserves to be told. I want to tell the messy, uncut, far from perfect, wildly in love, full of tears and laughter type stories. The humanity of moments, just as they are with no extra fluff or fakeness in the mix.
You have a list of core values on your website. Can you tell us a little about these and what inspired you to create a mission featuring core values?
My core values are the things I believe in most. They are the backbone to my business and the most important things to me in my life. I wanted to create a mission of core values to let people know exactly what I’m about and what they can expect of me during our time together. Also, what I need from them in order for us to work together in the best way! Having these up front on my website really helps any future clients not get faced with any surprises along the way. Win win 🙂 Here they are listed out for you to see!
I’ve loved doing life alongside others for as long as I can remember, whether that’s sitting around a table sharing a meal, having heart-to-hearts with coffee in hand, or giving friends and family a space in our home to come as they are and be what they need. Honestly, being invited into the most important season of your life feels a lot like becoming family. I don’t want to be just another vendor, but a lifelong friend.
Your story is unique and deserves to be told in the most authentic way possible. So, you can trust that I’ll never ask you to scale a mountain if you’re afraid of heights, to jump on your man’s back if you’re not into that, or to do anything else that isn’t true to you.
I’ve got your back. Always. I’ll come to your wedding day or photo session with a vision and a plan so you can relax, stay present, and truly enjoy our time together. When you trust me, I can do my best work for you.
I want to create photos that are set apart and meaningful to you, and sometimes that means throwing out the shot list and focusing on the moments that matter. My work has its own style and voice, but your story is what brings it to life.
Maybe it’s because I wear my heart on my sleeve – I’m all about sharing the messy, unfiltered, and in-between stuff of life. And I know having your photo taken can feel incredibly vulnerable, so I hope that by being real with you, you can do the same for me.
From meeting on a dating app to saying our vows in the Redwoods, doing life with my husband, Jeff, has been more incredible, imperfect, and life-giving than I could have ever imagined. I firmly believe in the meaning of marriage and truly value what it stands for: a covenant and not a contract, just two imperfect people coming together to walk through this life hand in hand. Marriage is the best, and I can’t wait for you to embark on this journey!
You’ve been featured in dozens of widely acclaimed and well-loved wedding industry publications, do you remember your first feature? What was it like?
I can’t remember my very first feature to be honest! BUT, I do remember the feeling! I thought there was no way they wanted to feature MY work. I was blown away, humbled, and so dang excited. It was a huge confidence boost and so fun to be able to share with others! Throughout the years, I have been published on numerous websites and magazines and still feel the same way. Humbled, in disbelief, and just kissed with the sweetest confidence boost. Recently, I had my work featured on the cover of WHITE magazine (an Australian bridal magazine) and I legit cried haha I honestly couldn’t believe it! I don’t think I will ever get “used” to being published, Truly such an honor!
Tell us about your faith! How does this play a role in your day-to-day life as well as your business?
I came to know Jesus when I was 15. A friend of mine kept asking me to go to her High School youth group at church and I was always so annoyed constantly saying no. She was persistent though! Finally, she showed me some photos of what it’s like at the group and who went (as if that would change my mind) and I saw a cute boy and was sold. So I went. That night after the service, I will never forget what I felt in my soul, so much joy and excitement yet so much confusion and so many questions!
Long story short, I kept going because that boy was still cute and I still had questions. Fast forward 5 years and at 20 I got baptized. I think it’s important to note that I come from a family of atheists. My nana is the only person on both sides of my family who knows Jesus. So I feel like those 5 years from starting to go to church until I got baptized were formative years of just figuring stuff out. Asking questions, still living a double life because i didn’t know how to incorporate my faith into my regular life at home. At 20, it finally all clicked. There was no going back and no power on Earth that could alter my belief and love for Jesus.
Jesus is everything in my life. He is my reason for being, the center of my marriage, the heart of my community, the reason for my business, and my truest love. I have never felt more seen and valued and loved than I do in His presence. I feel as if I have always known Him. Like there wasn’t ever 15 years of not knowing Him. I truly believe He was always pursuing me, IS still always pursuing me and the entire world at that. His love knows no bounds. SO thankful for His Love, Grace, and Mercy.
Last question, what advice do you have for young photographers out there that want to pursue their art full-time?
Don’t give up! It can feel lonely, hard, overwhelming, confusing, expensive, and so many other things at times but you are not alone! You have a gift and a passion and that will drive you as far as you need to go. You are an artist and every artist is unique. Stay out of the comparison trap and keep your head in your own lane. I remember comparing myself to one of my favorite photographers, Benj Haish, when I first started and realized how silly that was because he had been in business for TEN years before me! Of course he is more established and has his stuff together! Don’t give up.
Always remember, you have to invest in your business before it can invest in you. Take time to shoot for free, get creative, ask questions, invest in online courses or in person workshops, watch how others are doing it, practice, practice, practice. I believe in you! 🙂
Is there anything coming up that you are excited about?
Teaching is my absolute favorite thing! I am always excited about the educational opportunities that are available! I host a workshop alongside my business partner, Dawn Charles, called CULTIVATE and we are hosting another workshop this Fall! My website is also packed with educational resources such as my Posing Course, Branding Guide, Email Response Templates Guide, and desktop and mobile presets!
You can find them all here: https://emilymagers.com/education and I made a discount code for you all that is valid until the end of the year! Use code EZER15 for 15% off anything in the shop 🙂