Today’s blog is becoming one of my favorite kinds of posts to do! I’m featuring another Amazing Mom who is going to inspire you and probably make you cry at the same time. But before we get started, one quick item. It’s GOOD NEWS!

In case you didn’t hear, we are going to extend the Early Bird Discount for the Minneapolis CONFIDENCE Workshop to this coming Friday, September 4th! A handful of you have signed up last week, and I know a few more wanted to get in at the Early Bird rate. So instead of ending the discount on Tuesday, we’ll go to Friday! I hope the little bit of extra time helps. CLICK HERE to get one of the last spots!

Okay, Today I’m super excited to introduce you to the beautiful Tracie Stier-Johnson!

Tracie Stier-Johnson, an Amazing Mom and Portrait Photographer!

When I invited blog readers to send me an email if they’d like to be interviewed, Tracie was one of the many who emailed back. I was so excited b/c Tracie is one of the most beautiful spirits I’ve ever met. We first met when she attended our CONFIDENCE workshop in Chicago last November. And I fell in love with her. This amazing woman has endured so much hardship in life, and yet she still sees promise and hope in every new turn. You’ll see what I mean. She is simply amazing.

1. Tracie, when did you start your business and what was the turning point of taking it from a hobby to a business of charging people and putting up a website?

I started my business only a few short months ago! Like most photographers, once I had children (starting 14 years ago), the camera was constantly in my hand. I have photos everywhere.

Then, mid-last year, enter the blog world and flickr {both new to me}. I found my insides turning with a strange feeling of angst in wanting to take images like the beauty I was seeing all over the Internet. So I signed up for a couple of workshops. I truly just wanted to take better photos of my children and our travels. Starting a business was the last thing on my mind!

I already owned a business, a small stationery store I’d had for 8 years, at the time … I seriously was not looking for a new or additional career!

Apparently, God had other plans for me. After attending Me Ra’s Chicago CONFIDENCE workshop in November of last year, I came home and offered photo sessions to several of my friends and their families. Just for fun and to continue to hone in on the skills I learned at the workshop.

Tracie Stier-Johnson

Me Ra, you truly made the technical side of photography click with me! {get the little pun?} :) I walked away from the workshop thinking, “I can do this.” And an ever-so-small voice was whispering to me … “you can do this.”

For other lengthy reasons that revolve around wanting and needing to be emotionally ‘present’ for my children, I decided to sell my stationary store. And somehow … in the meantime, I started a photography business.

It was crazy. It all started with a donation of a photography package to an auction. I typically donated a stationery package from the store, but couldn’t. So thought, “Hey, I can donate a photography package.” One thing led to another … I needed a name {tsj photography}, a website, business cards, pricing packages … whew! A new business was born!

After I sold my store, I’ve never looked back. This is the first summer I’ve been home with the kids. My photography business is building at just the right pace for me. After each portrait session, I’m continue to learn and evaluate what went well and/or needs improvement. I’ve got just enough sessions that I’m not overwhelmed with editing, etc., but also have ample playtime with the kids. It’s been amazing!

And like Leslie, I’m amazed when I look back at my sessions from just six months ago how I’ve continued to evolve in my work, but also my confidence.

2. What inspires your photography?

Honestly, I continue to be inspired by the amazing images I see all around me. I definitely strive to have my own look … and when I see other images that inspire, it makes me want to be a better photographer. Truly, there is something that happens to my insides when I see an amazing image and inspires me to want to be a part of that incredible beauty and deliver that beauty to my clients.

Tracie Stier-Johnson, Amazing Portrait Photographer and Mom!

3. What inspires you as a person, artist?

First and foremost, God. I’m seriously inspired by the gift He’s given me. I believe God has entrusted us all with a gift or talent and it’s up to us to nourish it, which in turn, thanks him for giving it to us.

Tracie Stier-Johnson, Amazing Portrait Photographer and Mom

Secondly, my children inspire me {is that cliche?}. They make me want to be a better person, a better mom. They make me want to give them myself, and ultimately my clients the very best of me. I’m constantly inspired by their innocence, energy, creativity … they inspire me to be the best I can be.

4. What are the classes/workshops/DVDs you’ve watched to teach yourself photography? Were they helpful?

I feel incredibly blessed with the path I’ve taken. It amazes me when I look back at how each piece fit perfectly for my future plans … even if I didn’t know it at the time.

Of course the only DVDs I’ve ever watched are the very amazing “Refuse to Say Cheese” and “Beyond the Green Box.” J I watched Refuse to Say Cheese last summer and immediately took the girls outside to ‘play’ and catch all the little det
ails of toes, dimpled hands and dress ruffles. I thought I was “it!” The stuff photographers were made of! Seriously, Me Ra’s DVDs opened my eyes big time!

Then I took a private class with Jessica Claire. She taught me a lot about natural lighting and how to catch it right.

Tracie Stier-Johnson

When I got home, I ordered and watched Me Ra’s second DVD, Beyond the Green Box. Me Ra and Brian made it all sound so simple! I was already signed up for one of their workshops and couldn’t wait to talk in person about any other questions I had. From watching the DVDs, I was definitely able to have more confidence in shooting in manual {my goal}, but I feel like I was still missing something.

The CONFIDENCE workshop was like the flood gates of Heaven opening! I could hear the angels singing ‘Hallelujah” when I finally got it!! Me Ra, you guys must see that moment all the time in your workshops! I’ve been shooting in manual ever since your workshop and have even been trying to teach some of my friends the simplicity of it. No technical mumbo-jumbo … I call it Me Ra – ease. J

In April, I went to the Learnfest workshop. It was helpful to me in getting my business off the ground. It definitely gave me things to think about in the way I wanted to approach my business.

And the last workshop I went to was the amazing, awe-inspiring, goose-bump giving. It was the Discovery Workshop in San Francisco that Me Ra and Brian held with Rick Chapman and Garrett Burdick … absolutely amazing! The Discovery workshop really helped me see myself as an artist, not just a photographer. It helped me open up and learn how to make better connections … with myself, with others, with my clients. An experience I will forever be grateful for and will never forget.

6. What was your first “paid” shoot like? How did you feel on the way, during and after?

I get butterflies before every session! So I don’t think my first paid one was any different. Is that weird? I feel like I’d done enough free, portrait building sessions … I’d done what I could to be the best photographer I could be {at that time, not to say I don’t continue to grow and evolve}. But I’d prepared myself enough to have the confidence I needed to know I would succeed. Trust me, that sounds better than what I was feeling on the inside, but the ‘brain’ part of me was saying, “you can do this. This is what you’ve been training for.”

So … my first official session was truly like all my sessions, only better than my free sessions, because I’d come to a place where I thought, “yeah, I can do this … I’m really doing this!”

7. What is the best and toughest part about doing this while being a mom and wife at the same time?

The best part is having the ability to take beautiful photos of my family! Also, for me at least, I need to have something outside of my family that is just for me. That makes me feel like I’m contributing in some other way. So having this business allows me to keep myself ‘whole’ and in turn be more for my family.

The toughest thing would definitely be the logistics of leaving the family when I have a photo session. But that leads to my answer for the following question …

8. What is one piece of advice you’d give to newbie’s?

Balance. Keep things in perspective.

Tracie Stier-Johnson

But isn’t that true about anything we do? We want to be all and give all … to all! I think we have to realize, and more importantly be okay with, the fact that we can’t do-all and be-all.

My family is my first priority. I’ve taken that all into account when starting my business. I don’t want to work on Sundays, so I don’t offer sessions on Sundays. And a session on Saturday will cost more than a weekday. I’ll also continue to limit myself to 2 sessions a week. It’s very tempting to schedule, schedule, schedule. We don’t want to turn anyone away, we’re anxious for the business and opportunity … but I have to remember, “At what price?”

9. What else would you like to add that I’m missing? Feel free!

I’d like to share two more things. The first involves adversity. I know from reading the hundreds of comments, and from talking to others at the workshops … we are all facing adversity in one form or another.

I was recently diagnosed with early stages of Multiple Sclerosis {MS} and have started a treatment to slow progression of the disease. It’s an every-other-day injectable medication that I have to take for the rest of my life. I’ve lost part of my vision in my left eye, and unfortunately, I shoot using my left eye. I’ve been trying to switch over to my right, but when I’m in the heat of the moment … I revert to my old habits. I’ve also been losing my close-up vision. Almost daily, it gets worse. I find myself having to move items further and further from my eyes, again … difficult when I’m trying to look at the viewfinder to see what I’m getting. Bottom line is that I’m dealing with it.

And not for one minute have I asked, “why me.” Instead, I’ve chosen to embrace my diagnosis and move forward with a brave face even though I may not always feel brave.

The second thing I’d like to share … as I mentioned before, I believe we’ve all been given a gift or talent and I’m so thankful I’ve been given the gift of photography. What an amazing craft we’ve been charged with! Giving others everlasting memories … makes me smile just thinking of it!

Tracie Stier-Johnson

I’ve had a yearning in my heart to give back to others through my photography. I wasn’t sure what all that meant and hadn’t had it sorted out yet. I was worried what others in the industry would think, etc. Me Ra, I don’t know if you remember us talking about my thoughts? We were at Stinson Beach in the little clubhouse on that rainy afternoon during
the Discovery Workshop, and I brought the subject up to you. You were the sweetest ever and encouraged me to continue figuring out exactly what it was I wanted to do. And not to worry about what others thought. If it was in my heart, I should do it.

And I did! I’m currently giving back half my profits to organizations all over the world. My giving plan is focused on organizations mostly overseas involving mother, children and the spreading of God’s Word. You can read more about it here GIVING PLAN. I feel so incredibly blessed to have this plan.

I encourage everyone to look for ways you can give back … it doesn’t have to be grand … but it should be something that makes you feel good!

Me Ra, thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my story with your readers. My hope is that I’ve inspired and encouraged anyone that might be feeling uncertain in their own story.


*Tracie, Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story and BEAUTIFUL images. You are such a strong woman. Even with the new challenges you are facing, you are not giving up but going for your heart’s visions even more. You are such a powerful force of nature. It’s a honor to feature your work, your stories, be a part of your life. Thank you for all the time you gave to help this interview post happen. We are better people for it.

To read more about Tracie’s experience at the Chicago CONFIDENCE Workshop, CLICK HERE. To see more of Tracie’s beautiful work, click TRACIE’S WEBSITE. And yes, you must check out her great blog as she shares her unfolding journey. To order your own copy of our Award Winning DVDs, see below!

I also invite you to ask Tracie your questions in the comments. She has such a strong spirit to support women. I’m sure she would love to start a conversation with you! And it’s always nice to hear that your process was helpful to someone else. To know we are not alone–isn’t that what it’s all about? Thanks Tracie for letting so many women know they are not alone.

Have a wonderful weekend friends. Much love, Me Ra

p.s. Did you miss the last two Amazing Mom features? If so, check them out here!

1. Interview w/Leslie Webber from Indianapolis, Indiana!

2. Interview w/ Michelle Riddle from Santa Cruz, CA

A new one to come next week! :)

p.s.s. AND, would you like to be featured on our blog too?

If you have attended our workshop, purchased one of our five 101 Kits, or watched our DVDs, and feel like your life has taken a new and wonderful turn for the better, then please send me an email at I will send you directions on how to be featured. We can’t promise to feature everyone, but I want to do this type of blog post more and more. Hundreds of people have sent us the most amazing emails regarding our workshops and DVDs impacting their life, their before and after photos, their revived passion; I would love for all of you to hear those stories!


The Minneapolis CONFIDENCE Workshop deadline for the Early Bird Registration price has been EXTENDED!! HOORAY!!! You now have until this Friday to get in on the deal! FYI, I don’t think we’ll be able to make it to the East until next Fall, so if you are near Minneapolis or on the East Coast :), come join us! To find out more details and get yourself a spot, CLICK HERE!

Want to learn more about Framing, Composition, Blurry Backgrounds and Lighting? Check out our Award Winning DVDs, Refuse to Say Cheese and (They are BACK IN STOCK!! Yeah!!), or discover our popular 101 Kits for starting or expanding a business in photography, click on the titles of your choice!