Meet Gina Maxine!
Gina is our Amazing Mom feature today! Step back in time with me to about two years ago. On February 15th, 2008, I posted the Top Five Finalists for the L-O-V-E themed Photo Contest. One of the finalists was Gina Oh. This was her adorable finalist photo!
Well friends, Gina didn’t win the L-O-V-E Photo Contest, but she didn’t let that stop her. This woman is going to blow your mind! Prepare to FREAK OUT when you see where Gina and her photography is today—only two years later! Holy smoke, if ever a woman was inspiring, it’s Gina! Check out her latest images!
I loved the setting and light on both of these!
A little different then her Photo Contest submission, huh!
Gina and I connected via email, and she has generously offered her time to tell us her story through this Amazing Mom Feature Interview.
1.Gina, when did you start your business and what was the turning point of taking it from a hobby to a business of charging people?
I started my business about 6 months ago. It was at this point that I became somewhat confident enough to do so. I finally had the confidence to produce good quality pictures regardless of the lighting situation.
2.What inspires your photography?
I was NEVER interested in photography until my children were born.
Also, newborns, I don’t think I will ever tire of shooting newborns.
I see such beauty, innocence, hope, it is totally inspiring to me. I see God’s handiwork in each baby and it never ceases to amaze me.
3.What inspires you as a person, artist?
Recently, I moved to the Central Coast of California and it’s so beautiful here that one would be crazy not to be inspired by the beach. When I am standing at the edge of the water and watching the sun set, I take a deep breath and try to take it all in. It is just an unbelievable feeling. I feel very spiritual at the beach, especially at night. Nature, nature inspires me as an artist. I love the urban work that many photographers do, but when I take children out into nature, I am overjoyed with happiness.
4.What made you decide to do photography as more than a hobby? What was your turning point?
I was at a point where I was so passionate about photography that not picking up my camera several times a week was just really hard. My kids were just tired of having a camera pointed to their face, so I had started to practice on my friends’ children. I started a personal blog and people kept on commenting on how they liked my work. So I thought, why not give it a try?
Last February, I was a finalist your photo contest.The theme was love. Looking back, the photo was not technically sound by any means. I would’ve done many things differently had I taken the shot today. However, that picture still makes me smile, every time I see it.
I realize now that capturing “the moment” is very special, but to be paid, you better know what you are doing. So I started studying and practicing, day and night. When I realized that I was able to consistently produce images that I liked, I decided to charge.
5.What are the classes/workshops/DVDs you’ve watched to teach yourself photography? Were they helpful?
I first took an online class by “Better Photos” from a very reputable teacher, but I was still lost. It was at this time that I started to look on the internet for DVDs that could help me improve my photography. I somehow stumbled on “Refuse to Say Cheese” and bought it immediately. When I received the package, I gave up on dinner, put out a bowl of cereal for the kids and watched it from beginning to end. Then, I immediately put myself on the waiting list for “Beyond the Green Box”, I think it was still in production at this time. I did almost every single one of those exercises on those DVDs and your daily blog. When recipes were handed out, you bet I wrote those numbers down and did that exercise. I took those recipes very seriously. Me Ra, I don’t think you ever knew how much that impacted me. As strange as the “Professor” was, his quirky explanations helped me put the exposure triangle together in my head. I still think it’s hilarious that I would sit there and memorize those numbers, but you have to start somewhere, right? Now, it all comes to me so easily, but it wasn’t always like that. After that, I attended the Secret Workshop with Cheryl Muhr, the Baby as Art Workshop with Carrie Sandoval & Britt Woodall and The Life as Art Workshop with Nichole Van. All workshops were wonderful for different reasons.
(I have to jump in here. This is Me Ra. One of the BEST ways to improve your photography is by taking a workshop. Just this weekend we had the MOST amazing weekend of growth with 20 women in Orange County. These women are going to sky rocket! Whether you take one of our CONFIDENCE workshops or one of the ones mentioned above, you will be blown away at how fast your photography and confidence improve. Brian and I did a handful of workshops when we first started, and these investments jump started us like crazy! There is a lot of talk about photographers doing workshops to early in their career and attendees being very frustrated with how much money they spent on the workshop. I encourage you to go by word of mouth. I don’t know personally know the ladies/workshops Gina mentions, but I’ve taken a few minutes to look at their workshop websites. All three look inspiring. So go for it ladies! Ask around, do some research, and then invest in yourself. You want be disappointed!)
6.What is one or two pieces marketing/self-promotion ideas that you can give our newbies? (something you did to get your name out there)
I have found that baby announcements are a great way to advertise. It is a high quality folded press printed card. I offer these to my newborn clients and it has my logo and website on the back. I am also the class historian at my daughter’s school. I give the parents free photos from their various field trips and that has generated some business for me as well. Other than that, it’s mostly word of mouth.
7.What was your first “paid” shoot like? How did you feel on the way, during and after?
It was a newborn session and it was awful. The baby cried the entire time and I was just not able to achieve a single decent image. I was about to give up, but told myself that I was going to give it one more try. I told the mom to come back the next day to try again. He wasn’t the perfect baby, but much better than the day before. The first paid shoot is definitely not easy, but with practice, it does get better and better.
Looking back, I thought I was “ready”, but perhaps I wasn’t. Now, I rarely get butterflies in my stomach.
It took LOTS and LOTS of practice, you must practice, that’s the only way to know you’re camera. (Have I emphasized “practice” enough?)
8.What is the best and toughest part about doing photography while being a mom and wife at the same time?
Toughest: the never-ending juggling of time. It is crazy, isn’t it? I wasn’t very good at it last year so I had to re-evaluate my situation this year, I have cut back tremendously, and I am ok with this. My youngest is two now and I feel that they are only this age once and so my photography business is going to have to take somewhat of a back seat. This year, I only take one client a month and a handful of commercial work. I am happy with this decision and it works for our family in this moment in time.
Best: In this month’s issue of Baby Couture magazine, there is a full page ad with an image that I photographed. I showed it to my husband and he took the magazine from me and looked at it and read the article like he was really interested. (He’s your typical Asian guy, people, not one to express much emotion). Anyways, whether it was just playing it up or not, I don’t know, but he was like, “Wow, you’re famous now, I’m so proud of you, yada yada yada…” and I know a part of him was joking, but I also know that when he hugged me, a part of him was really proud. When he first bought me my used Nikon D70s, it was only supposed to be a hobby. Yet, as I have I dived deeper and deeper, he’s supported me even more.
When holidays come around, his questions is always the same, “What lens is it this time, honey?” Haha, it always makes me laugh. Knowing that he encourages and supports my life outside being a SAHM has been a wonderful discovery for me.
9. Is there one more piece of advice you’d give to newbies?
I feel like it is important to take time to find out what your style is, what you like to photograph. I tried all kinds of photography before settling down to newborns, children and commercial work.
I did maternity, engagement sessions, seniors, 2nd shot a wedding, editorial, still life, etc. It took my a good couple of years before I realized what I really liked. Having said that, there is no law saying that you have to stick to that genre forever. This goes for editing too. Right now, my work has a vintage feel.
I might not like this look next year and it’s ok. However, you must update your blog or website so that your client knows what look they are getting. So how do you discover your “style”? PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!!
Dearest Gina, Thank you so much for sharing your story with all of us. It’s so inspiring to see what you’ve done in two years time. I think so many of us struggle with wanting our images to improve overnight. And while digital photography has sped up the process, anything we are passionate about learning takes practice. And your images and business are proof of how rewarding the practice can be. You are an inspiration dear. You are an Amazing Mom! One of these days, we’ve got to meet in person!
Much love, Me Ra
*To see more of Gina’s beautiful imagery, CLICK HERE!
To all our blog readers,
Did you miss one of our Amazing Mom features? If so, check them out here!
1. Interview w/ Leslie Webber from Indianapolis, Indiana!
2. Interview w/ Michelle Riddle from Santa Cruz, CA!
3. Interview w/Tracie Stier-Johnson from Milwaukee, Wisconsin!
4. Interview w/Lora Ayers from Atlanta, Georgia!
5. Interview w/Carey Schumacher from San Diego, CA!
6. Interview w/Amanda DiMonda from Long Island, NY!
7. Spotlight w/Sreyown Sun from Cambodia!
p.s. AND, would you like to be featured on our blog too?
If you have attended our workshop, purchased one of our five 101 Kits , or watched our DVDs, and feel like your life has taken a new and wonderful turn for the better, then please send me an email at email@example.com . I will send you directions on how to be featured! We can’t promise to feature everyone, but I want to do this type of blog post more and more. Hundreds of people have sent us the most amazing emails regarding our workshops and DVDs impacting their life, their before and after photos, their revived passion; I would love for all of you to hear those stories! If you submitted an email to us before and didn’t hear back, please accept my personal apologies. I’m working on getting more and more help with the number of daily emails I receive. So just to play it safe, copy Genie on the email too! 🙂 firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh! I almost forgot! Tune into Lifetime’s Balancing Act tomorrow morning to see the feature spot I did with them!