I (Amanda) have been in love with being behind the lens for as long as I can remember... My dad worked at a print shop when I was little and used to let me go in the dark room with him to develop film - I thought it was so cool, almost magical!
In grade school my friend and I would go around the neighborhood looking for the 'perfect' spot for an on-location photo session and we would spend all day snapping away behind the 110 camera lens. There was something so gratifying sliding the film advancer and hearing it 'clickclickclick' as it went to the next frame.
In junior high I took a photography class, got into the darkroom some more and developed some pretty striking black and whites - and started shooting a lot with black and white film - now 35mm. (technology moved so fast back then! haha) I loved the risk of pulling the film out just enough to attach it to the little wheels, then hearing the whir of the motor as it automatically advanced the film!
I remember when I got my first digital camera, a whopping 3 megapixels, it took me the longest time to learn to look at the back of the camera, rather than through an eye piece! I was in love with digital photography - you could see the picture immediately! No more triplicates 'just incase' someone blinked! But still several takes waiting for the lag of the newly-digital age to actually capture the photo - the one thing I hated about digital photography.
Photography has always been a love and a hobby for me, but it didn't start to take over my life until 2010. I was getting ready to go on a mission trip to Africa - my first time to the continent. My husband suggested that I do photo shoots as a fundraiser. I thought, "Why not?" I advertised my sessions at the school I taught at and my church. I couldn't believe the response! People signed up left and right - and they praised me over and over again once they got their photos - and I was only using a point and shoot camera for the first few sessions!
I finally got a DSLR about half way into the fundraising sessions, and oh. my. gosh. I fell even more in love with photography than I ever thought I could! The newfound control I had over my images thrilled me. And my heart skipped a beat with every click of the shutter.
After I returned from the trip people were still asking me to do photo sessions, so I decided right then that my photography would always be used to benefit the Kingdom. God had given me this amazing talent and opportunity, so I was going to honor Him by giving it all back. I was touched so much in Ghana, that I decided to donate 25% of all the proceeds from my photography to The Father's House - where I'd visited in June of 2010. I also named my new hobby "Mission for Mawu" because of how I'd decided to use it to fund missions, and Mawu means God in the West African language Eve (ev-AY).
The other 75% would go into a special Missions Fund, to help us/me return to Africa someday - because I just knew I had to get back there - I fell in love as soon as that plane touched down!
One year later I found myself tearing up behind the lens as I watched a bride and groom share their first kiss.
Eighteen months later it helped fund my second trip to Africa - Tanzania this time, and hubby and little O came with.
It was immediately apparent to me, after learning about House of Hope in Tanzania, that part of my photography proceeds had to go this amazing organization too, so I decided when I got home that 15% would be donated to them, leaving 60% to continue being funneled into our Missions fund. Because by this point, we knew we'd be going back again, and again.
Two years later I found my calendar booked all the way through the end of the year with photo sessions - and it was only July.
I am still in awe of the number of clients I have/have had. And every time someone new, from outside my circle of friends/church/school contacts me, I'm blown away. Blown away that they heard about me or saw my work somewhere, and even more blown away by the fact that they liked it enough to find me and book a session even though they have never met me!
Now that we live overseas, I use my talent whenever I can to bless and help others. Sometimes that's taking family photos for fellow missionaries, or for employees of different organizations. Sometimes it's photographing other missionaries' projects so they have amazing photographs to show their supporters back home. When we're back in the states I always hold sessions to help replenish our missions fund too.
So that's the story of how I became a photographer, how it took over my life, and how I've chosen to use it to impact the Kingdom.
Mission for Mawu Photography was born in West Africa... and continues on around the globe.
A stateside session during furlough in 2014 - a pregnancy reveal.
My first client - a maternity session taken entirely with a point & shoot camera! (2010)
Taking family portraits for a church in the village outside Moshi - the pastor was giving them as Christmas gifts to each attender.
I've had so many amazing clients that I've grown to love, and I've enjoyed watching their kids grow up and capturing their lives on camera.