Photographer finds her passion, goes back to school

July 25, 2013

From “Tribune Profile — Taryn Meinholz: She photographs special moments” — Taryn Meinholz has two passions: her 5-year-old daughter, Tenlee, and her photography. Graduating from Middleton High School, Meinholz didn’t have any idea of what she wanted to do from then on. She attended Madison Area Technical College for general computer classes before she decided to move to Lake of the Ozarks, Mo. She became an office manager at a construction and roofing company.

“It was awesome waking up on a lake. It was like being on vacation,” Meinholz said.

But reality set in and she returned home. In 2008, Meinholz welcomed her daughter, Tenlee, to the world. After her daughter’s birth, Meinholz began snapping photos.

“I wanted to capture every moment,” Meinholz said.

When she developed the pictures, Meinholz noticed she had a knack for taking pictures that she wasn’t aware of before. She went ahead and purchased her first Digital Single Lens Reflex (or DSL) camera, a move up from her point and shoot device. She also accepted a job at Wisconsin Mutual Insurance Company in policy services. She enjoyed the job but found it not to be as satisfying as when she first started. If she was going to make any changes and give up time with her daughter, she knew it would have to be for something she really loved doing.

Meinholz was enjoying her new camera so much she decided to enroll in MATC’s photography program. After being on the waiting list for one and half years, Meinholz received her acceptance letter and then hesitated, questioning her willingness to commit to this major endeavor.

With a “if I don’t do it now, I never will” attitude, Meinholz went full speed ahead becoming a full-time student with a part-time job.

“My family and work were very supportive,” Meinholz said. “I committed myself to get through in two years.”

Classes included lighting, Photoshop and editing, as well as video classes among others. Students were required to shadow a professional photographer to execute all the processes that were learned in the classroom, observe the work flow and body language of a professional studio.

Meinholz started taking extended family photos and used friends for school projects. She graduated in 2012 staying true to her two-year timeframe.

“We were the first class to graduate all-digital,” Meinholz said.

Meinholz has learned her camera inside and out, but it is can still be a challenge to be quick in full manual mode.

Blending together all she learned, Meinholz dove head first into the real world of photography and started accepting wedding assignments. An acquaintance trusted her enough to give her the opportunity. With only a mock wedding experience during school, Meinholz’s first actual wedding was very nerve racking. Meinholz brought a fellow student for moral support and picture backup.

“Weddings can be a one-shot opportunity. I can’t tell the bride I missed the first kiss or that my hard drive crashed,” Meinholz said.

All turned out well and with that trust came the confidence to keep going. This year, Meinholz has 13 weddings booked for summer and fall. And she enjoys every minute of it.

“I tell the brides. ‘Don’t be offended, but I’m the boss,’ ” Meinholz said. “Bride’s don’t realize how fast the day goes.”

There is a timeline for the day and expectations of the bride and groom of certain pictures. Family pictures are done right away before everyone goes in different directions. Meinholz recognizes the important parts of the wedding and then she likes to fill in with small unexpected details, and everyone is pleasantly surprised. As time goes on, Meinholz feels more laidback and prepared.

“I don’t stress out. I want it to be fun for the bride and me,” Meinholz said.

Weddings can end up being a 14-hour day taking three hours to upload pictures with six to 10 hours of editing.

“I love to present the end result,” Meinholz said.

Meinholz works out of her home where she rents a farmhouse with her sister. Most of her work is done in natural lighting. Portraits are her favorite whether they are senior pictures or family events.

“I love being able to capture personalities,” Meinholz said.

But she has to remind herself that clients aren’t models.

“Clients don’t know what makes a good picture,” Meinholz said.

As the professional, Meinholz needs to convey what does. Meinholz gets her own picture taken once in a while just to remember what it’s like to be the client.

Meinholz loves taking pictures of children.

“I love having a 2-year-old in a field, and the parents and I are doing all kinds of things for that one smile. It’s very entertaining,” Meinholz said.

Friends are beginning their families and taking photos of newborns also thrills Meinholz. Meinholz continues working part time for Wisconsin Insurance. Acquiring different professional equipment, such as extra lenses, can be a major investment.

“It’s very rewarding. It is so unexpected for me to have this passion and be recognized for it. I would not be here without the support of my family. They take up a lot of my slack, but they love every minute of it. It keeps us close,” Meinholz said.

Most of Meinholz’s free time is spent with her first and favorite photographic subject, her daughter.


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