It is such an honor to be introducing you all to my old friend, Maureen Porto. Not only have I had the pleasure of knowing Maureen since attending university together many years ago, but I was also lucky enough to work with her last summer. Maureen traveled to Raleigh to take pictures of our family (minus Delilah who wasn’t yet born) and of our Raleigh store, which was such a treat. It was our first time ever having professional photos taken of our family, so I was pretty nervous. As the mom, I am almost always behind the camera, and am not a huge fan of having my picture taken, but she did such a phenomenal job of putting us all at ease and making the day so much fun.
Maureen is just one of those people, whom I feel truly lucky to have met, who has a love of life that is contagious, and who can hardly be described in a few words, but I will try… She is humble and gracious, an inspiring mother, a kind and thoughtful friend, funny, and last, but not least, a ridiculously talented photographer. Her ability to capture people’s spirits and special moments on film is just amazing.
I hope you enjoy meeting my friend, Maureen, and learning about her journey into photography. To see more amazing work by Maureen, please visit MaureenPortoPhotography.com.
Well, it would be hard to pinpoint one experience since it’s really been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My father enjoyed photography as a hobby and in addition to taking countless family photos, he used to shoot amazing 8mm films of our holidays, Sacraments and family vacations. Every once in a while, my siblings and I would beg him to set up the projector and show us all of the old films. My earliest memories include watching those movies and studying the faces of my “young parents” and deceased relatives. I quickly realized just how valuable it is to capture life on film and with my first Kodak Instamatic camera, I began to document the simple moments in mine.
Photography remained a constant hobby throughout my life, but I never allowed it to be more than that. While I enjoyed the photography classes and workshops I took for fun, I always felt the need to make use of my college degree and experience the corporate world. When my son Jack was born in 2004, I chose to leave my career at an Investment Firm and stay home with him. I wanted to remember every moment of his little life and so I began to upgrade my equipment as I photographed him constantly. When my girlfriend, Valerie, got engaged the next year she hired a fabulous D.C. Wedding Photographer, but asked me to take her engagement photos. We had a great afternoon together and afterwards I sent the edited images over to her in an online album. She forwarded them on to her guests as part of a wedding countdown email and the response was exciting. Like only a dearest friend can, she had a solid heart-to-heart with me and told me it was time to take the plunge to becoming a Professional. Two months later, my website went live and my calendar was quickly filling with appointments. I’m grateful she gave me the push I needed and I’ve never looked back since.
What is your favorite part of your daily work … when you reflect on the day, what is most rewarding?
As much as I love photographing people and events, there is something almost cathartic about the editing process. I enjoy putting the kids to bed and heading back in to my office to work. My husband has taught me how to make a pretty decent cappuccino and I’ve found that caffeine and good music go a long way when tackling my editing que late into the night. It’s rewarding to watch the images come together to tell the story of a new baby’s arrival, a wedding celebration or a current chapter of a busy family’s life. Few things are as satisfying as realizing you have a hand in crafting a family heirloom, much like my Dad’s precious films are to me.
Do you have any advice for other working moms?
Oh gosh, I usually feel like I’m the one asking others for their insight… noticing the Women Who Do It Well and picking their brains for nuggets of advice. Truthfully, since I don’t employee a Nanny, I sometimes forget that I’m a Working Mom until I count up all the hours I devote each week to my business and then I realize I definitely qualify as a full time employee! I’m blessed to spend the majority of the day with my children and will sneak away for a quick session when they’re at school, a play date or after dinner when they’re enjoying time with Daddy. I’m able to work the rest of my schedule directly around their little lives and needs. I feel grateful to live among a generation of women with the freedom and technology to allow us lots of different options when it comes to managing our careers.
Whether you work outside the home or not, Motherhood is a carefully choreographed routine. Each of us knows how tricky it can be to balance family with the rest of our hectic lives. My advice is to never underestimate the power of a strong Girl-Tribe! Surround yourself with other women who are devoted to creating a purpose-filled life, however she may chose to design it. These girls will be the first to understand the demands of your life and offer a helping hand. Besides my husband, my sisters and girlfriends are ones I depend on most for support and advice. They let me bounce business ideas off them and will give me honest feedback. They’ve introduced me to people I’ve partnered with on projects, have covered me in a pinch with the kids, recommended new business opportunities for me, and know when to just pour a glass of wine and listen. My girlfriends have reminded me countless times that I’m strong and brave and talented and adored. I mean really – what’s not possible with a village like that standing behind you?
What is your most memorable photo session?
My most memorable photo session was for a family whom I’ve photographed twice. The first time, I was a Volunteer with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and I shot infant bereavement photographs at the hospital just hours after they lost their first son to an umbilical chord accident during delivery. We stayed in touch and two years later, they contacted me to photograph their second child when she was just 5 days old. To see this dear couple, who had suffered such tragedy with the death of their son, finally get to open themselves up and love another child was just overwhelming for me. I can’t tell you how many happy tears we shed during that second session. It was truly a gift to see them come full circle and experience the joy they deserve. The fragility of life cuts much more deeply when you have children of your own and I’m grateful for the moments when I get to step back from my family and capture people celebrating life. It just fuels me.
If you could photograph anyone in the world, who would it be?
Jose Andres come to mind immediately. I’ve enjoyed several of his restaurants and am wildly inspired by his cooking. I love his innovative style and how he really pioneered the art of marrying traditional Spanish cuisine with avant garde presentation. He has such a friendly, affable personality and I think it would be interesting to attempt to contrast that in some more serious black + white portraits like Richard Avedon may have captured if he were still alive.
What thing/place/event were you most recently inspired by?
My friends were married on the beach in Turks and Caicos this Summer and there were some gorgeous local children playing their steel drums down the beach that afternoon. I fired off only a couple of quick snaps as we processed to the wedding, but their confident, eager smiles have resonated with me. I wish I had had more time to spend with them. I realized then that I love photographing strangers. Not just people who’ve hired me and I haven’t met yet, but true Strangers that I’ll encounter only once. There are no assumptions, no expectations. It’s so honest and raw.
Where is your favorite place you have traveled to?
That’s a tough one. Italy is definitely near the top, but I also love Spain, especially after exploring some of the smaller towns and villages. I guess I should say something intelligent about the Moorish influences still present today or how the tapestry of Arab, Jewish and Christian cultures have shaped the art and architecture, but let’s be honest…. if I were given 24 hours in Madrid, I’d skip the art museums and castles and head out on a crawl of my favorite cafes for more tapas, paella and wine!
Croatia is a country that I had no idea I’d love as much as I do. My sister and I traveled there in the late 90s after most of the cities around the capital were ravaged in their wars for independence. It was heartbreaking to see ancient landmarks destroyed by war, but we were also able to venture out to the coast near Dubrovnik and I was blown away by the pristine beaches and crystal clear waters of the Adriatic…. breathtaking images that stole my heart and make me excited to get back there again one day.
Where in the world are you dying to go next?
My husband and I have always made traveling a priority and we have some good trips planned for this winter, but I’m most excited about next Summer. My best friend and I are planning a trip with our families to Italy and Sicily. It’s been fun challenge to design an itinerary that covers the most distance without running our 3 kids into the ground! I’ve never traveled to Sicily, but my husband’s family is from Sciacca, a small fishing village on the Coast, and I’ve always been intrigued by their stories. I’m thrilled to get to explore it and finally show my children such an important part of their heritage.
What is your favorite Rosenberry Rooms product(s)?
My favorite? How do you choose a favorite flower? I guess if I had to pick just one product, I would say the pettiskirts. I can’t help but smile when I see a little girl in one. I’ve been lucky enough to photograph several girls in those skirts and to watch their imaginations come alive as they twirl around and around is just magical. My daughter was gifted one on her 2nd Birthday and without fail, she squeals with delight every time she puts it on.
Do you have any news that you would like to share, perhaps about upcoming events or projects?
Be on the lookout for my Blog this Winter!
Just for fun:
Favorite Food: Tuna sashimi
Favorite TV Show: Curb Your Enthusiasm
Favorite Movie: The Sound of Music
Favorite Weekend Activity: Lounging over coffee and cartoons in bed with my family
Favorite Musician/Band: Amos Lee, Edward Sharpe and the Metallic Zeros
Here are just a few of Maureen’s gorgeous photos. To see more of her work, please visit MaureenPortoPhotography.com.