We had the good fortune of connecting with Mikaela Durfee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mikaela, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
In my business, what makes me happiest is creating memorable, beautiful, and fun photographs for my clients. I especially love serving my return clients and seeing how their families grow each year! Photos only increase in value over time as they help us keep our memories with loved ones fresh in our minds. I’ve been especially grateful for that this year as my mom (who was a photographer even before it was cool!) passed away earlier this year after a battle with cancer. She’s the one who lit the fire of my photography obsession. I am so thankful for the photos I have of her and our family, and only wish I had more. When I photograph my wonderful clients, I’m filled with happiness and gratitude for the chance to show them what loving their people looks like. It’s an absolute honor to help them preserve their memories of their loved ones, especially knowing that life is short. It’s also really important to me, as a busy mom of a herd of kids, to have a creative outlet. Photography is a form of self-care for me. Being behind the camera is truly my happy place! Outside of my business, I’d have to say pizza, my family, a good audiobook, The Office, being outdoors, and my hot husband make me happy. In no particular order. 😉
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My style of photography is based on my belief that it should be a relaxed and fun experience. I want my clients to love their photos because they look beautiful, of course, but also because the session itself was happy memory. I always try to get the classic shot of everyone smiling at the camera, but it’s really important to me to create images that show movement, natural interactions, and candid moments that tell a story. I almost exclusively shoot outside with natural light, and love taking advantage of all the locations around Payson, AZ, where I am based.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If you’re visiting the Payson area, you have to get outside and enjoy the scenery. The nearby Mogollon Rim has one of the most beautiful views in the state, looking over the worlds largest ponderosa pine forest. You can fish in the lakes and creeks, go crystal hunting near Diamond Point, attend the world’s oldest continuous rodeo, or hike along the Arizona Trail (or any of the numerous other trails around). When you get hungry, Old County Inn in Pine, AZ is my favorite pizza place in Arizona, and for something a little more fancy and unique check out Duza’s Kitchen on Main Street in Payson. For dessert, you have to visit the Danszeisen Creamery for the most amazing stack shakes that will blow your socks off!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d love to shoutout my mom. She owned her own photography business for many years when I was young. My dad had an old Minolta film camera in the back of his closet, and one day she picked it up and taught herself how to use it. She practiced on us kids, then started taking on clients, and hired me as her assistant. She was always willing to teach me new things and give me chances to practice… especially when she got a digital camera that didn’t cost so much every time the shutter clicked! I’ll always be thankful for that, and love that photography ties me to her memory.