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Meet Marie Monforte

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marie Monforte.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Some people think they have finally found their calling. I think mine found me.

In the months after my son was born I was struggling with Post-Partum depression, and also just sort of struggling in general. Our lives had been kind of a whirlwind. After dating “long distance” (I was living in Los Angeles) for a couple years, I moved down to San Diego to be with my then-boyfriend, and we got pregnant a month later, then married 3 months after that, and had our baby just a few months later! So in less than a year I went from being this independent working woman, living an autonomous life in LA with my friends during the week, and weekending with my boyfriend in San Diego, to being a new wife, and a new mom, in a new city, with a husband who travelled a lot for work, leaving me to take care of our new baby all by myself much of the time. I was really struggling to adapt to so much change in such a short time, and struggling to find the joy in it all. I knew I wanted to prioritize my family, but I didn’t feel, dare I say, fulfilled, in my role as a stay-at-home Mom. I know, it’s shocking, and maybe even controversial, to come out and admit that the great fortune of staying home with my baby wasn’t enough for me, and yet, somehow it just wasn’t. I felt lost, and broken, and also so guilty for feeling those things when I knew I was really so blessed. That’s how depression can be though – it will suck the color out of the most radiant sunset. It will drain the joy out of you. I finally broke down one day and my husband thought it might be a good idea to put our son in daycare 2 days per week so I could have some time to focus on my health and just find myself again.

That is when I enrolled in a Photoshop class at my local college – something just for fun, and just for me. I was just a hobby photographer at the time, and I didn’t even know how to take my camera off Auto-mode, but I loved the idea of being able to edit the photos I was taking of my sweet baby boy. A little while later I entered one of those photos in a contest to win an “Intro to Photography” workshop by a photographer friend I really admired, Kelly Crispin Paulson of Wild Whim Photography. And randomly, I won! I was so excited to learn how to take even better pictures of my baby, and she was such an amazing photographer to learn from!

After that workshop, I enrolled in another workshop, and another. I took another Photography class at my local college and spent countless hours delving into the world of photography- soaking it all up like a sponge. I was totally hooked. It was like a drug and I was always thinking about how I was going to get my next fix – who can I photograph next? Part of what made it so appealing to me was knowing how happy it made my subjects! I realized I now had a talent that I could use to make people happy! I mean, seriously – stop and dwell on that for a moment. What a revelation that was for me! That doing what I loved to do brought my subjects genuine joy! And that it gave them the ability to relive the memories they made together time and time again! And that I was making memories right alongside them in this mutually symbiotic relationship; each of us giving of our energies to the other. I mean, crazy, right?

Looking back, that little workshop I randomly won was a major turning point in my life. It was the catalyst for so much growth and change – for so much joy and fulfillment. I sometimes marvel at how one little decision in our lives can have such a lasting impact. At how every single decision I make influences the next, and how the people I surround myself with will impact the opportunities I have and the decisions I make. How it can all come together in this crazy fateful way to form a life I couldn’t have dreamed up any better if I tried.

When I was lost, photography found me. And now, with the love and support from my husband, family, friends, and all my clients throughout the years, I really believe I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. I am using my gifts to make people happy and that makes me happy (and so very grateful).

Please tell us about your art.
I have always been an artist of sorts. I grew up studying music and theatre – with dreams of Broadway or a big Record Deal (Bwahaha!). Through the years I’ve learned that be it music, painting or photography, the common denominator across all my art is that I want it to make you feel something. For me, a sweet song, or pretty image is simply not enough – it has to tell a story.

So when I’m photographing my clients, I am looking for little details that I can capture to tell the story of your love. The way the soft light of golden hour sun illuminates your hair as you tuck it gently behind your ear. The freedom of releasing your biggest laugh in the safety of your lover’s arms. The gentle curve of your finger, protectively wrapped around your new baby’s tiny foot. I’m looking for those moments in between the poses when your smiles are most genuine, and your connection most magnetic. Sometimes I can hang back and let the magic unfold before me, just sort of snapping away. Other times I might give cues or guidance to help your love be more palpable in camera.

Either way, a photo session with me is more than just the pretty pictures – it is an experience. It is being unplugged and present. It is soaking each other up and not worrying about anything else for that hour or so you’re with me, except simply loving on your loved ones, and letting them love on you in return. And when we do that – when we stop worrying about those extra few pounds, or the smile wrinkles creasing our eyes, or the goofy faces our incorrigible kids won’t stop making; we are free to just be our perfectly imperfect selves. And those moments of authenticity are what make me feel something. The rush of excitement when you’ve shared that first official kiss as husband and wife, and turn to see all your guests cheering in applause! The sheer joy on your daughter’s face when you spin her through the air! That feeling of “home” you feel when you look in each other’s eyes and know there is nowhere in the world you’d rather be. These are the moments that inspire me to make my art. These are the stories I want to tell.

We often hear from artists that being an artist can be lonely. Any advice for those looking to connect with other artists?
Early on in my career I definitely felt lonely, but if you leverage social media, it isn’t hard to find other artists to connect with. The larger, international groups are great for learning and inspiration, but the real connection happens in smaller, local groups. Step out from behind the computer and meet up in for a creative shootout or a drink (or ice cream!). I stumbled a little at first (competition is fierce in over-saturated markets like Southern California), before finally finding great photographers who truly believe in “community over competition”. Finding true friendship with colleagues in my industry has made all the difference for me.

My advice to those looking to establish themselves in their artistic communities is to approach other artists with humility and to seek out ways you might be able to help others, rather than seek out what you can gain from a new relationship. Same as in life in general, I guess – look to help others, and in turn help yourself. Because “what you seek is seeking you” – Rumi.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
While I was recently featured (along with 49 other awesome female photographers) in an Exhibit called “Women in Photography; Our Visual Voice” at the Luxe Gallery in San Diego, that show ended earlier this month. So the best place to see my work now is on my website! I have portfolios featuring weddings, engagement sessions, family sessions, maternity, newborn and even senior photos and headshots! From there, just click on my blog for even more images from select sessions, along with a little blurb describing what I love about each one. You can also check out my Instagram for my latest work, plus sneak peeks from sessions or weddings I’m still trying to make time to blog.

And if you are a recently engaged couple looking for a wedding photographer, I would love to meet up for coffee (or wine!) and can bring along several of my sample Albums from real wedding clients for you to see and feel up close. There is something so special about a Wedding Album… not because it’s a more tangible way to relive those memories, but because it becomes the first Heirloom in your new family’s legacy.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Marie Monforte Photography

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