We have a special member to feature this week, it’s Maureen Petru of Maureen Petru Photography.
Maureen is based out of Pennsylvania and has a great story to tell and you have to read through this whole blog post to truly enjoy it. So grab some coffee, sit back and get ready to be enchanted. Maureen started as a photographer in 2010 on her 40th birthday! She began part-time as her main job was and still is being a mother at home with her two children.
Maureen says, “As I began my venture, I received a special gift from my Aunt. It was the first book put out by Awkward Family Photos. Little did she know at the time, I along with my brothers and a cousin, narrowly missed being the cover photo. Just two months before I started in business, my brother submitted a photo from our childhood to their website. We quickly rose in “popularity” and were inducted into the Hall Of Fame. You can see the photo HERE . I am the little blond on the far right as you are looking at the photo. We lived in Minnesota and were driving to Wyoming for a family reunion. As we crossed the state line between Minnesota and South Dakota – my mom ordered us all out of the car and lined us up in front of the state sign for a photo. If you need a bit of a belly laugh, you can read through some of the comments. I, thankfully, can laugh at myself – otherwise this would be pure torture for me! This photo ended up being used in a promotion by Virgin Airlines, and pops up occasionally when AFP has been featured on various news shows such as The Today Show. But the ultimate caveat recently came when we made print. We are now one of the featured greeting cards sold in stores that carry the Awkward Family Photo line. I can walk into a Target or Wal-Mart and see my 12-year-old-awkwardness in all its glory!
But if you thought that was enough for one family, you are sadly mistaken. AFP ran a contest this past summer for an awkward family photo vacation picture and guess what family entered? Oh yes, that would be my family. And guess who won that contest being declared the most awkward family in America last summer? Oh yes, that would be my family once again. We won with just under 10,000 votes. We were featured on radio shows, TV news and newspapers all over Minnesota. So we hit fame once again on Awkward Family Photos. If you have stopped crying over the first photo, you can bravely view the second one HERE. Will this one make a greeting card? No. Only because it is instead being used for a calendar. That’s right, meet yours truly, Miss July 2013!”
So with that out of the way, (thanks for sharing that story Maureen) I wanted to find out from Maureen where she gets her inspiration from. She answered, ” To answer what it is I love to shoot and what inspires me, I have to take you back a bit first. After less than a year in business, my husband took a new job and our family left Boston, MA and moved to Pittsburgh, PA. That type of move involves many changes and my focus was on getting my family settled. September rolled into October and then on to November and I had not really made a move to start up my business again. I used my downtime to read photography books and articles, and spend time thinking about what my draw to photography really was, and who I really was. Did I shoot during that time? Absolutely. Daily. I was shooting what has become my inspiration – my family. But it was on a different level than before. My technical skills had vastly improved during my time away, and I finally began to settle into myself as a photographer. It is ok that I do not own a closet full of props. It is ok that I do not do cartwheels for smiles. I appreciate those that do and there is a need for those that do, but it is just not me. I like to observe and grab that shot that connects me emotionally to my subject. And to me, my biggest challenge lies in getting others to feel that emotional connection as well. That and making sure an image I capture does not end up in Awkward Family Photos!”
I asked Maureen, if she could go back in time… what would she do differently? She replied, ” Trust what that little voice is telling you. When I was doing more of the posed photography in the beginning, I was so incredibly nervous every time I went out to a session. Yet at times, the nerves disappeared. When I was dropped back, observing and shooting – as I do these days with my family – I became relaxed. I now recognize that as being the first signs that posed photography was not for me. I am more closely in line with a lifestyle photographer, but yet that does not completely define me either. I am not in a box, really. And my vision for my business is a 180 from where it was at when I began. Be patient, take your time, study others, but come away with yourself.”
Maureen says she doesn’t have an all-time favorite image because she has such an emotional attachment to so many of her images. She says, “It is like you asking me who of my daughters I love the most. I fiercely love different things about both of them. I feel much the same about my photography.”
So we have to know, what are you lugging in your camera bag? “Are you ready to get all this down? A Canon 5D MarkII and a 50mm f/1.4 lens. That is it. I do own a 24-105mm f/4 lens, but it has not seen the light of day since I got the 50mm. I think that speaks to the change in my style as I have moved into more of the storytelling side of photography. I would like to add the 35mm f/1.4 among other lenses. I do have a photography wish list pinterest board titled “If I had a rich uncle…” But really, why did I narrow myself down to just an uncle?”
Maureen thank you for much for sharing your story with us. Your work is beautiful and your story is ridiculously wonderful. If you would like to see more of Maureen’s work you can go right HERE to her facebook page.