We had the good fortune of connecting with Monica Hagen and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Monica, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I am a manufacturing engineer by trade. Even when it requires creativity and imagination, its a more methodical thought process involved. I have owned a camera since I was 10. I have always been the person who is taking pictures at parties, vacations, any special occasion. Photography was a hobby for me and while working as an engineer for more than 10 years I learned on the side. I took classes from a local photographer, took classes in local universities. Anything I could learn more I did. It was until I had my son, 7 years ago that I started photography as a business. I never thought I could actually do what I was passionate for a job. I started taking pictures of my baby, my own personal model and it got friends and random people ask me if I could that for them. It went from owing only an old DSL camera with the cheapest of the lenses to expanding my equipment to better lenses and props galore. I love coming up with new sets for the different seasons, or for different milestones. Creating unique images and turning them into memories for my customers is what I value more. Creating art is so rewarding. Capturing beauty is priceless for me.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I think what sets me apart from others is that 1) I create a relationship and a fun environment. Some people are naturals when it comes to taking their images but most likely they don’t like it, so its my job to make it a good time and not a shore and try to capture unique candid moments that they will treasure forever. 2) Make it affordable. Even when photography is a business for me, its a luxury for others. Not everybody can afford a good quality image, so I try to reach to those who wouldn’t be able to if they wanted to book the most renamed photographer in town. The way I put myself where I am is precisely to put myself out there… I don’t only go by word of mouth but also using every single platform that I can and somehow it always works! Its never easy to start over when we move but I follow the same strategy every time! Connecting with mom’s groups and the community in general is key.

I want the world to know that I am a person that makes relationships no matter where and when, which helps me blend in wherever I go. My brand is all about capturing your precious memories without being painful or dreadful. I create an environment where everybody feels comfortable and gives me the best of smiles. I didn’t go to school to become a photographer, I am an engineer.

Everything I know, I have learned from amazing photographers, either in person or virtual classes. I still have a lot to learn but I will continue to improve myself daily to provide the best experience and art possible.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Waco is such a big town that we can definitely have plenty to do! Of course visit the silos… That would take a whole morning but we can start with coffee at one of the many wonderful coffee shops in town such as Dichotomy, Lighthouse, Bru House or Magnolia Press. After visiting all the stores in the Silos we can head to a brunch at either Olive Branch or Milos. We can continue walking around Franklin Ave or Austin avenue to shop in all the local businesses. We can head to the Brazos and walk along the path that leads to Cameron Park & Cameron Zoo. We can check out all the amazing spots from the trails to overlook the Brazos either from the top of the cliffs or East Brazos park to see the majestic cliff. Dinner at DiCamplis or George’s. For a second day we can either take the Waco Tours on bus or boat to hear all the historic and touristic stops in town. If visitors feel active we can take a paddle board or kayak in the bravos for the day and go under the suspension bridge and overlook the Baylor Stadium. If they came during college football season, surely we can catch a home game. If water is a theme we can head to Lake Waco and rent a boat, go swimming or even catch the trails for some hiking. If they are into museums, we can check out the Dr. Pepper museum, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame or the Ranger Hall of Fame. If kids are involved the Mayborn museum is just the perfect spot along with the Mammoth Site & the zoo. For evening entertainment we can head to Top Golf, the Waco Pedal Tour or a bar downtown such as True Love, The Backyard or Crickets. Overall there is something for any age!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband! He has been my number one cheerleader and encouragement since day one. He never doubted me and continues to encourage me every single day. He’s always looking for sales for lenses and continues to invest in my little business. We move a lot and that has been challenging but I have realized that its easy to move this kind of business and that I can always go back to take pictures of old customers and friends.

Website: www.monicalopezhagenphotography.com

Instagram: @monicalopezhagenp

Linkedin: http://linkedin.com/in/monica-lopez-hagen-416a025

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/monicalopezhagenphotography

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