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Student Spotlight: “Meet Airon Mothershed”

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If you’re looking for up and coming photographers, Airon Mothershed is one to watch out for!  She has a variety of subjects she captures and does so with amazing talent!  Plus she truly values education and investing in herself and it shines through in her photos! Airon was in my Perfect Portrait e-Course awhile back and since then has come forward with brilliant work every time I see her post her work!  She has some great advice for new photographers like you and shares with you some of the resources that helped her progress quickly with her skills!

Describe your photography journey.

As a child, I loved to look through really old black and white family photos and learn about the people in those photos. Somehow, I knew that those family photos were just precious. But, I also loved the world around me. Jackson Hole, WY, the Tetons, and Yellowstone National Park were practically in our backyard — we’d take many a Sunday drive over to one of these places just to “look around.” My parents had a 35mm film camera, and they loved taking photos of wildlife. However, as I grew older, I realized that most of our family’s memories from the past 20 years were held on slides — and we didn’t even own a slide projector! As a result, those memories were really held just in our memories (someday, I WILL convince my Dad to get these slides transferred to digital — who knows what treasures await?!). As a result, I vowed to take photos and print those memories, and I did — with a point and shoot camera for the longest time. After college and law school, I joined the Air Force, and my travels took me all over the world. Through those travels, I met some incredibly talented military photographers whose work helped me realize I needed a better camera with detachable lenses (and the skills to go with them!!) to document these incredible experiences I was having. I jumped in with both feet! It was frustrating at first, but finding good teachers and mentors along the way has made the experience a lot of fun.
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What (or who) was your inspiration for wanting to get into photography?

My inspiration initially was the beautiful world we live in. I grew up in a rural and beautiful place on the edge of Idaho and Wyoming. When you grow up with that kind of beauty in your backyard, it either becomes “commonplace,” or it whets your appetite to voraciously travel the world and seek more. For me, it was the latter. I couldn’t wait to see and document famous places around the world, as well as hidden gems. Once we had our son, however, my inspiration changed a bit. I became so inspired to document the world through my son’s eyes. And, I wanted to have “sharp” photos; I was no longer content with grainy cell phone photos.

What type of photography do you enjoy the most and why?

My first love was landscape photography, and I feel that genre comes easiest to me. I can look at a landscape scene and instantly know how I want to frame it. However, my interests are varied, and I love to photograph whatever inspires me! I love to photograph my family. My little one isn’t very interested in posing for portraits, so I have to catch him in unexpected moments (and that means I have to work harder on my portrait work). But, I’ve also found I love photographing dogs and pets, in general. We don’t have any of our own, but a family at our church raises miniature schnauzers, and I love to photograph these amazing dogs! It’s so much fun, and the puppy snuggles are unbelievably awesome. The best part about not relying on my photography for a living is that it means I can photograph whatever gives me joy.

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Where do you see yourself as a photographer in the next 5 years?

Hmm . . . good question! I would love to have some work published. I’d like to grow more in the craft — to the point that people see my work and say, “Wow! That’s awesome. Who is that photographer?!” I expect to retire from the military around that time frame, and perhaps that will provide a segue for photography to become at least a part-time business. I would love to travel more at that point and would especially love to photograph Antelope Canyon in Arizona. I would also love to learn OCF and learn how to do studio lighting.

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What do you think your biggest struggles are as a photographer and what do you do to overcome them?

For me, the biggest struggles are time, followed by resources. For example, I have so many great photography and editing online courses that I’ve purchased and that are just sitting on my computer waiting for me to watch them one day. Resources are always an issue — I’d love to have an arsenal of lenses, for example, but they are so expensive, that it takes time to build for a hobbyist. To overcome these, I just do the best I can. I put some of my photography courses on my smart phone or tablet, and then watch a little bit each day on my lunch hour, or at night, after the house is quiet and everyone is asleep. As far as lenses go, I try to shop with the idea of getting the most “bang for my buck.” I tried to start my hobby by purchasing “all-purpose” lenses. Since for me, that could be landscape, people, wildlife, pets, or other things, getting a few zoom lenses were the most important purchases initially. Further, I have found that renting lenses is an affordable way to get the photos you want if you need something really specific, short-term. (For example, I recently rented a long lens when I went on a day trip to the Texas Gulf Coast to photograph whooping cranes.)

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What is one piece of advice you would give to a brand new photographer?

Practice, practice, practice!! And, don’t give up. Remember that when you see a photographer’s amazing work online, they’ve gotten there through hundreds of hours and usually several years’ work. Don’t discount the importance of learning editing software and how to organize (and backup!) your work. And, save up for quality lenses and equipment (used ones are often more affordable).

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Tell us a little bit about the gear you use.

I use a Sony A7 III with multiple Sony FE lenses. My favorites are my Sony G Master FE 24-70mm F 2.8, Sony 55 mm F 1.8, and my Sony 70-200 mm F 4.

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Tell us some ways or places where you continue to learn more about photography (or editing)?

I always enjoy Cozy Clicks’ courses and heavily rely on what I learned in Emily’s portrait editing class when I edit people. Even though I’m not a wedding photographer, I took Katelyn James’ Lighting and Location course, and really gained a lot from that course in understanding how different light will affect the overall photograph (and then knowing how to find different types of light). I am a member of KelbyOne and Clickin Moms. I am also in the Cozy Clicks Course Support, and the Fire and Ice Photography Society (both are Facebook groups). I continue to grow in my photography through these resources.

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Do you have any funny or embarrassing moments to share about a time when you were out shooting?

Oh, wow . . . yes. Last year, I had a friend visiting, who was interested in learning more about photography. She brought her brand new DSLR, and I took her to a local national historical site at sunrise. Keep in mind that this historical site normally charges $50 for a professional photography license to shoot at this site. I had called the site ahead of time — several weeks earlier. I explained that we were not pros but hobbyists and wondered if the cost would be the same. The woman answering the phone stated not to worry about the fee; just to go out and enjoy it. So, we did . . . at sunrise. And, we met a somewhat surly ranger who immediately called the person that normally answers their phones, and she had no recollection of me or my phone call. We left shortly thereafter. Bottom line — even if you just do this as a hobby, always find out if you need a permit (or ask permission if it’s private property), and it’s not a bad idea to double check. I was so embarrassed!

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Describe how you find inspiration in your work.

I think “it” (the inspiration) finds me. I like to keep my camera out (and in my car when I’m traveling) to photograph beautiful scenes or memories.

What tips do you have that would help others that are looking to advance their portrait photography skills?

I’ve found it helpful to follow lots of photographers on Instagram and Facebook that I admire. Many of their styles are not mine, but I still find beauty and inspiration in seeing how they photograph their subjects. It’s also helpful to join a couple of supportive photography forums or groups on Facebook — I encourage you to look for a “positive” one where the photographers seek to mentor and help.

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How would you describe your style?

Colorful, clean, and vibrant. Occasionally, I do like to try “dark and moody” when a photograph calls for it. And, again, since I’m not doing this for a living, I am able to post a few photos here and there on social media that aren’t necessarily consistent with the rest of my style on my feed.

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Where can we find you? Do you have a website or social media channel where people can follow you? 

I have recently started an Instagram page for my photography @naturegrl94. I’m still building it, so please be patient!

Let’s all help support Airon and check out her new Instagram page!!


To read more about students in the Cozy Clicks courses, hear their story, transformation  and how they can help and inspire YOU! Check them out here!

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