The first camera Mindy Myers got her hands on was a small children's model with a large revolving flashcube. It was the camera of choice for a young girl photographing the kids in her neighborhood and discovering her creative side. Yet, as she remembers, the photos always turned out blurry. With friends' faces fading into all directions, Myers' earliest results may not have been destined for picture frames. Still, with that simple, flawed, camera her passion for capturing the world around her was set firmly in place. Weddings are filled with myriad photo opportunities. With the flowing libations and the many disposable cameras, those opportunities can turn into something far less than memorable if the camera is in the wrong hands. It takes a true artist to turn fleeting images into indelible ones that can last the test of time.
Myers' career trajectory has taken her from Des Moines, Iowa, USA to and through myriad small and large towns along the west coast where she sowed her creative oats, and back home again. Instilled with an affinity for seeing and then capturing those rare, split-second moments that are shared between people, Myers has spent the last 20 years honing her craft. Along the way, she has developed an idiosyncratic style for which brides and grooms come to her in droves. Her gift has transformed the spark in her eye to an energy that comes across in the striking composition of each image, the depth of emotion in her subjects, and a serendipitous aesthetic. This is why she is booked nearly every weekend, and why her work has received numerous awards, including many through the WPJA.
Alongside Myers' attraction to the camera at a young age was her innate talent, which, to no surprise, the photography aficionados in her life picked up on immediately. As early as junior high school, she took her first class in photography. It was during these early years that Myers started to refine her raw skill. She recalls having an excellent teacher who served as a great inspiration for her and helped to bring out her "natural eye". And it was not only she who gained motivation and encouragement from this teacher, but also the accomplished photographers Jay Spence and Anna Gaskell, who were also in her class.
During her junior college years, Myers continued with photography. There, her teacher recognized her unique talent and provided the direction that a young fledgling photographer needs. Pulling her aside from the rest of the class, he told her that she needed to study in California, where opportunities for young artists abound. Following his advice, Myers took off for the west coast, where she spent several years in Santa Barbara attending art school and exploring the world around her. She waited tables and traveled whenever possible, seeking to meet as many people as she could. Creatively, this period was a very formative time for Myers. She reflects, “I think that experience changed my perspective and inspired me to get to know people and tell their stories”. From the homeless men who sought happy hour food in the bar where she worked, to struggling musicians, to the alchemist who lived in the woods behind her house, Myers met and gained insight into a broad spectrum of people. With a natural eye for art and composition, she took this time to explore her compassionate side and storytelling abilities.
As Myers puts it, “My primary interest is documenting people’s lives.” And what more ideal event than a wedding to discover an array of emotions that brings color and shape to her subjects, their lives, and their individuality? She describes a perfect wedding photograph as one in which she has caught an incredible moment from the day, one that completely blows her clients away. Throughout the day, Myers is looking for “something interesting and beautiful where you wouldn't expect it. I also try to watch the relationships between people closely.”
She goes beyond simply capturing the interactions between people, as there are many throughout a wedding day. There is an intimacy in Myers work that is unparalleled in typical wedding photography. Her pictures relay closeness between the subjects, which translates with an immediacy in a profound way to anyone viewing her work. This is in part due to her penchant for relaxing, and as she describes it, disarming people when she looks at them. Mostly, she says, “I'm trying to create a photograph that will tell the story without reflecting myself in it.” She takes her ego out of the picture and instead focuses on capturing how her subjects feel on their wedding day. There is no struggle between an arbitrary aesthetic vision of the photographer and the events of the day. As a result, Myers’ work overflows with feeling.
Though the majority of each wedding she photographs is done so with one of four of her digital Nikons (D70, D100, D200 and D2X), Myers always makes a point to bring out her beloved Hasselblad during each event. More interested in the creative than the technical side of photography, she relies most heavily on the digital medium. “I love the instant reward that you get when experimenting with a digital camera. For me it greatly accelerates the learning curve for different techniques,” she explains.
Myers has an impeccable sense of timing (and a great deal of patience, we might add), which means that she doesn’t take huge numbers of photos hoping that one will be the perfect picture. Instead, she sits back and waits for that unique moment or set of circumstances that come together at once to present itself to her.
Myers’ clients are a diverse group, including brides who live in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles who return home to Iowa for their big day. She appreciates diversity and what it can bring to her work. When asked what Myers has learned over her years of experience, she responds, “Everyone has a story and I'm pretty good at helping them tell it.”
Graced with a vision, modesty, and devotion, Myers allows her work to speak for itself.
— by Lauren Ragland for The Wedding Photojournalist Association
Photo Credit: Paige Peterson (Portrait of Mindy Myers)