We had the good fortune of connecting with Maren Sater and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maren, how do you think about risk?
For the longest time, I thought of ‘risk takers’ as people who really put it all on the line – made the big bet or the life or death type decisions. I didn’t think of myself as a risk-taker because compared to that standard, I’m fairly conservative.
However, with some help and introspection, I believe now that I am a risk taker and so are a lot of people. Risks are not always financial or about physical safety; I think a lot of achieving success is about risking ego.
Growing up as a military brat, every three years we moved and I had to put myself out there to meet new friends. Being an introvert, that was a risk. Trying out for college sports as a walk-on when others had scholarships was a risk. Uprooting and moving to another state for a job where I knew no one was a risk. Creating photographic art and putting it out in the world for what is sure to be a met with an equal mix of appreciation and criticism is a risk. What if no one likes me/thinks I’m good enough/gets my vision/thinks I’m worth it, etc.? The ego is both fragile and very powerful.
Taking a risk is making the decision to try something despite the fear or concern. All the individual little risks that I have taken over the course of my life/career might not at first glance seem like game changers. It is the accumulation of all of these little leaps of faith that pushed me out of my comfort zone, time and again, that have fostered resilience and given me confidence that I will make it.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I’m a pet photographer, specializing in tailored outdoor sessions that feature your furry bestie surrounded by our local desert beauty. Beyond images, the outcome of our session is stunning artwork for your walls and tabletop display. For my clients, their dogs are not ‘just a dog.’ They are family, and as such, deserving of the kind of photo session treatment enjoyed for other momentous occasions.
There are plenty of talented photographers and pet photographers out there. I’m different in that my focus isn’t just digital images. I’m very hands on – I scout locations specifically for my client’s shoot, I collaborate on the vision of what is important to capture, I help sort through all the images and choose the keepers and then consult on how best to display your memories so that the artwork complements your home décor. That includes final editing for color tone. And I personally deliver your pieces to your door.
This has all come about for me as a result of my long-standing (20+ years) involvement with animal rescue. About five years ago, I began doing adoption photos for my local shelter (still do). I was approached by the owner of Bonnie’s Barkery, a fantastic pet boutique in Cave Creek, to do holiday photos for their customers. Being a supporter of rescues himself, he had seen my adoption images and thought to reach out. I was concerned about taking money at that point, as I didn’t feel I was good enough. I agreed to anyway and then promptly started taking courses specific to pet photography! I got so many ‘feel good’ vibes from people’s reactions to images of their pets that I decided it was worth pursuing in earnest. And bettering my technique served to also better the adoption images for those pets still in search of their forever families.
There is so much more to capturing very good images of pets – lots of nuances that do not apply to photographing people or other subjects. It’s more than just taking a picture. When I photograph a dog, I want to convey all the joy and all the love that is exuding from every last ounce of their being. When I photograph a dog and its human, I want you to feel the meaning in that relationship pouring out of the pixels.
On my journey to now, I’ve learned that it takes more than just having a camera to be a business. Challenges I face include the balance of working on this passion and having a full-time career. Learning how to use social media (still learning!), finding high quality photo labs and products I’m proud to offer, navigating financial and legal requirements. Being solo, there’s a lot to unpack and get straight to provide a standout customer experience. It has taken a lot of very late nights and weekends to get to this point and there is still more to do.
For me, it’s all worth it. Seeing the smiles, happy tears, laughter…all brought about by images that capture the pure love that is a dog…well, I think we can all use more of that.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my best friend were visiting for a week, here are some things we’d have to do (in no particular order): -Go hiking – Black Mountain, the McDowells
-Visit the Salt River, maybe canoeing and watching for wild mustangs
-Catch Notes from Neptune in one of their venues, preferably my favorite spot for margaritas, The Blue Adobe Grill
-Walk around Old Town Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Gilbert – fun places to shop and eat
-Check out the North Scottsdale Farmer’s Market and Singh Farms
-Dining – Barrio Queen, Isabella’s Kitchen, Ciao Grazie, Chelsea’s Kitchen
-Have a spa day at Camelback Resort
-Paddleboat on Tempe Town Lake
-Pool time in my own back yard, complete with grilling & homemade margaritas!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am blessed to call friends some pretty amazing women. From my mother and sister, to my close girlfriends – some I’ve known for 20+ years, and some I’ve come to know more recently. I love and admire each of them for their roles as professionals, confidantes, creatives, nurturers, cheerleaders, and risk takers. I know my life would be very different today without their tremendous support.
Facebook: Maren Sater Photography