Today we’d like to introduce you to Mei Slogar.
Hi Mei, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I’ve pretty much always had a deep interest in other people and their stories, so much so that I became a professional listener, earning a doctorate in clinical psychology in 2018. I’m guessing others could pick up on that vibe, as even people I didn’t know frequently approached me in coffee shops and other random places to tell me their story. My interest in photography began when I inherited my first camera as a five-year-old, an old Kodak 110. However, it wasn’t until college that I made the connection between photography and storytelling. In my junior year, I traveled to Southeast Asia for six months to conduct research and visit family and used photography as a way to share my experiences and stay in touch with people stateside. By this time, I’d acquired a somewhat more sophisticated digital camera. As someone who had no serious experience with photography, I was pleasantly surprised when people connected with and enjoyed seeing my photos. Encouraged by this feedback, I kept shooting and upgraded to my first DSLR around the time I started grad school.
My first paid work with human subjects involved photographing my fellow students’ major life events. We were cash-strapped grad students, so I was sometimes paid in food. I pulled what I was learning about psychology into my photography work and found that I really loved capturing the raw emotions around a particular space and time. This aspect is a huge component of my personal style. While the settings and props are chosen beforehand, the poses are loosely directed, if at all, and reflective of people’s feelings about themselves and about the present moment. In the summer of 2019, I moved from Baltimore to Seattle to chase mountains and my dream of becoming a an adventure photographer. While I shoot lots of different things, the overarching theme reflects my goal of authentically capturing a client’s everyday adventures. Through photographing an event, a portrait session, or a meaningful place, I’m helping my clients tell their stories more clearly. I love working with people who are uncomfortable in front of the camera, don’t have any photos of themselves that they really like, or who feel that their existing photos don’t accurately reflect their personality. These obstacles represent a gold mine of opportunity. And just to be clear, I love the easy work equally as well! When I’m not shooting to pay the bills, I can be found documenting my own hiking and climbing adventures with my rescue dog, Ruby, and leash-trained traveling cat, Onyx.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
As awesome as the journey towards becoming a small business owner has been, there have been lots of challenges. Starting work in a new area coincided with COVID-19, so that’s been interesting as well. I’ve been using this time of social distancing to perfect my portrait skills by shooting myself and my pets. As someone who’s pursued two professions involving different ways of listening to others, I’ve learned that excessively focusing on other people’s stories sometimes stems from avoiding my own. I’ve had to develop a belief that my story was worth telling to connect more fully with others and to trust this journey. I’m at the beginning of this adventure, so I still have a lot of questions and “Oh, crap” moments to work through, such as, “How do I continue getting paid to do this?” and “How will my career as a photographer shape my involvement with psychology?”
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I love traveling and shooting in beautiful outdoor locations, whether that’s relaxing in a hot spring or hanging off a rock hundreds of feet up. As an experienced rock climber and adventurer myself, I’ve got the technical outdoor skills to (safely) make your dream adventure shoot a reality!
Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
I tend to believe things don’t happen for a reason—things happen, and our overdeveloped brains try to make sense of it all by assigning meaning to things. It’s empowering to decide what parts of our stories we want to focus on—and photography is a way of doing that in a visual sense. With all the challenges 2020 has brought, I’m thankful that I was able to spend a good bit of the year planning for stories I wanted to experience, and documenting them.
- 100/hr portrait session
- 300/hr event/large gathering