Meet Amanda DiMonda!
Amanda is our Amazing Mom feature today. She is based out of Long Island, NY. And she has two beautiful twin girls!
1. Amanda, when did you start your business and what was the turning point of taking it from a hobby to a business of charging people and putting up your beautiful website?
I have always had a love for photography; however, my first love was animals. I grew up wanting to be a veterinarian. In college, I was always interested in taking a photography class and for one reason or another I never did. I did take my camera around campus with me when I needed time for just me and to reflect on life during a time when I was really trying to find myself.
Fast forward six years later and I found myself becoming a mom of beautiful twin girls.
My camera and I formed a new relationship. Would you believe I actually started off taking pictures with my Sony video camcorder?! It also took still shots and it was the only camera I had. After literally thousands of pictures later, capturing my girls every moment, my video camera fell at a birthday party and broke. While it was being fixed my husband and I went to the store and he asked me what kind of camera I wanted. I said, “Well if I could get anything it would be the Canon Rebel XTi.” At the time I had been drooling over it for a very long time. It was then that he looked at me and said “OK.” What?! I was really just joking and throwing it out there…never expecting to actually get it. He told me that it may take time but that everyone always compliments me on my pictures. And maybe one day it could end up being a business purchases, and I could start my own photography business.
I received my camera for a Christmas present in 2007 and never looked back. I was literally floating. Photography woke up something inside of me that I knew was there but never actually took the time to listen too. My camera let me show and “say” more then I could ever put into words. More and more people continued to tell me that I should pursue photography because they loved my eye.
It wasn’t until last winter (2008) that an amazing woman I met by chance through a mommy and me class, asked me to take pictures of her boys. She knew I could do it, just like many others telling me, before I did. And for some reason I listened and said I would love to. After my first photo shoot I was re-newed in spirit and on such a high that I saw all the pieces of my life fall into place. And just how amazing it was to produce such a priceless gift for another person and truly love every minute of it. That is when it started. I did do a few jobs after that for free and slowly started charging people from there. In April of this year, I decided to put up a website to have some way of actually showing what I do. Through my website and mostly word of mouth, I have started to take off. Some days I find myself holding my breath wondering if it is truly happening. I mean how many people can honestly say they LOVE and have such passion for their job?
2. What inspires your photography?
Definitely my children.
It is amazing how quickly they go from one stage in life to the next. I want to remember all the little things. The way their eyes light up when they do something for the first time, or how innocent they look while sleeping or laying next to their puppy, all those silly face only they make so well. I could go on for hours, but just to watch them grow and come into their own…is so beautiful and takes my breath away.
They inspire me to try my best to capture that, so one day they can look back and treasure those moments and see how amazing they have always been.
3. What inspires you as a person, artist?
Just life in general and a desire to want to show people what I can’t put into words.
I am a deep thinker, always have been and I am sure always will be. Growing up I always felt “older” then I was and the things that went through my head were not the normal things I should be worried about or thinking of. I was always sensitive to situations that would normally go right over a child’s head. Life itself was such a big question to me: Where exactly did I fit in this big world? It amazed me to think of all the possibilities. I saw and felt so much, yet I never found a way to let all that energy out and have always just taken everything in. My camera bridged that gap. Now I can show people what I see and help them notice something beautiful in places they might never have thought to look or taken the time to feel.
4. What made you decide to do photography as more than a hobby? What was your turning point?
I found my self 25 years old, a mom blessed with newborn twins and unable to have any more children due to a heart condition that was a result of my pregnancy. That one stung for a while. As thankful as I was that I was given two amazing children, I didn’t like being told I could not have any more kids. I LOVED being a mom and thinking that all these moments that pass too quickly would never happen for me again was heart breaking. Those tiny newborn hands, those belly laughs and toothless grins. Everything. Only once. It crushed me.
Fast forward a few years later and I realized that there is a reason for everything! I found my camera, this passion…and I actually took that “leap”. Just the way I felt after taking pictures for someone else for the first time, it was so empowering. I finally saw all the pieces of my life fall into place, and it felt right. And I find that I am blessed again every time a family allows me to step into their lives for just a moment and capture their own child’s story.
I get to relive those moments every time I do a session! It truly is a special gift and dream within a dream!
5. What are the classes/workshops/DVDs you’ve watched to teach yourself photography? Were they helpful?
I honestly have never taken a photography class or workshop before. I have learned what I know from playing around and reading information anywhere I could find it. Then I bought Me Ra’s Refuse to Say Cheese and Beyond the Green Box DVDs. They absolutely helped me in more ways then one. They showed me in simple terms how to understand Aperture. That was the most technical thing from it that I truly appreciated getting out of the DVDs. Then even more then that was the confidence it inspired in me. The DVDs, just your blog in general and you, and the information you provide and your encouraging sincere way. How you show in more ways then one that you can take this amazing passion and make into whatever you want it to be. All you have to do is look any fear or doubt straight on and jump in with two feet and the rest will fall into place. Whenever I feel my self confidence lacking all I have to do is read through your blog and take a deep breath. Then I realize I can do this, just keep moving forward.
I also attended MeRa and Brian’s CONFIDENCE workshop in Minneapolis, and I am still in awe of the whole experience. I had hit a glass ceiling in my photography and had not even realized it until the first day of the workshop. By the second day I realized why I was where I was, and Me Ra and Brian gave me the tools and the courage to go out there and challenge myself in new ways. I can not even put into words how amazing these workshops are…and there is NO question. Everyone should attend one…it is that simple!
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)
Definitely business cards. Even if you do not have a website yet, and are just starting out. I would absolutely tell anyone to just get business cards. You can put your own pictures on one side and on the other just have your name and contact information and write down photographer or child photographer how ever you choose to word it. Hand them out to friends and family to give to people, or ask if you can leave them at certain businesses. Or if you just meet someone and the conversation comes up you have something to show a piece of your work and have all the info right there.
I have also found the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation. I did not realize all that I had been through children could be subjected to as well. It is such a misdiagnosed condition and as soon as I found it, I knew I wanted to do my part to help them any way I could. I decided to donate 10% of my prints profits during a certain time frame to their organization. When they found out they were so excited and wanted to help promote me as well and in turn hopefully helping them at the same time. So they posted about me on their website, and I have gotten recognized through that. If there is something that speaks to you…something you would love to help out in some way–you can do it with your photography…you can do it! You never know the possibilities that can arise and at the same time you are helping others and that always feels amazing.
7. What was your first “paid” shoot like? How did you feel on the way, during and after?
My first paid shoot I was very nervous. I was so scared that the “idea” of actually being paid would just get in my head to much and I would never give them something they would actually want to pay for. I had my work cut out for me as well as it ended up being the coldest day of the winter up until that point. It was of two little boys and the youngest was only about 15 months. He was so cold and not happy to be outside, and he cried every time we tried to get him to walk around. I totally understood why! It wasn’t until I got home and started looking through the images that I realized ‘Wow I really can do this, I had so much against me with the weather yet I still captured images where you would never known how miserable it was outside and that the little guy was so upset!’ I ended up making them happy and have actually taken their pictures again since then. It wasn’t until I got their mom and dad’s words of how much they loved the pictures that I actually started to breathe again! It felt empowering to make others so happy.
8. What is the best and toughest part about doing photography while being a mom and wife at the same time?
Guilt and time. By nature I find it very hard to do things for me and when I do…as much as I know in my heart I need them and despite my husband’s encouraging words and support to go get and achieve anything I want…I still feel tremendous amounts of guilt. It is funny to me, as much as this is my business and a job, it is so much fun and I love doing it from the bottom of my heart that I sometimes forget about feeling guilty for going out, away from my family to do a shoot. That I am creating something to treasure for others, making them happy which is priceless for me, and I am contributing to my family at the same time.
Also time, finding the time to sit at my computer and edit all the images I capture. I struggle to find the right time that I am not taking away from my “job” as a mommy or wife and yet not staying up all hours of the night working on pictures and then getting no sleep! (sometimes I just get so into it that I can’t stop to go to bed! Lol! The house is quiet and when does that happen right?!)
The best part is that I get to give people something and make others happy, while at the same time doing something I truly love for me. And I get to share my passion, especially as my children get older and hopefully inspire them to go after their own dreams.
9. Is there one more piece of advice you’d give to newbies?
To stop waiting and just go for it. Fly. Do it for yourself, especially if you are a mom…You know how we all get to these points where we are doing things for all these people and then we stop for a second and think…but who am I again? It will fill that space and empower you to do more in every area of your life! And don’t let those days where you are lacking self confidence bring you down. Just breathe and keep moving forward…it will come back. You can do this!
And to have a good support system behind you. I could not do what I do with out the support of my husband. He is so enthusiastic about what I do and wanting me to grow and succeed. He is always willing to help in anyway with our girls so I can go out and meet with clients and is always by my side reminding me why I started this and how proud he is!
I love that I can make people happy and slow down for a second in this crazy life and take a moment to appreciate the beauty in love in their own lives.
A client once told me that she had never known her husband to cry and as he looked through their on line gallery he had tears. That was the best compliment any one could have given me, especially just starting out.
Through photography I also found a way to give back on a personal level. I found The Littlest Heroes Project, which is a non profit based organization helping children who sometimes feel forgotten because of an illnesses or life altering condition by offering free photography sessions. I have yet to do my first session, but was accepted as a photographer a few months back. I am so excited to be able to take my love for photography and not only start a business but also reach out at the same time and make a child feel wonderful. I am not the founder of this amazing organization or anything to do with how it started, I am just waiting to partake and do my part! If you are interested check them out and see if they are in need of photographers in your area! http://www.littlestheroesproject.org/Littlest_Heroes_Project/Home.html
Photography has opened my life and heart to so many amazing things and I am so honored and thrilled that you, Me Ra, have given me this opportunity to take another deep breath and open up about my incredible new journey. If I can do this anyone can!
Dearest Amanda, I will never forget meeting you at the Minneapolis workshop. You have such a tender soul. You soak in all the energy around you, and you turn the energy into beautiful images. I was looking at your blog last night, and I was blown away–just in total awe of your beautiful images. You seem to capture the human spirit in such a soft, gentle way. Thank you for sharing your story, your fears, weaknesses, triumphs, your honesty…thank you for sharing YOU with all of us. We are better people today because of you.
Much love, Me Ra
To all our blog readers,
Did you see the last five 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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org . 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!