As women, it is important for us to know that we do not have to place limits on our careers. Many of us have many different passions and should never feel that we have to stick to doing only one thing in life. Photographer and artist, Christina McErlean, is one woman who has not placed any limitations on her career. She is a driven, passionate, and multi-talented businesswoman who believes in utilizing her various gifts and talents.
In addition to running her photography business, Christina Mansfield Photography, Christina is also a jewelry designer and owner of Christina’s Jewelry and Designs. If you didn’t think that was enough, Christina, 34, is currently in graduate school working on her Master’s and PhD in Counseling Psychology. Residing in Sarasota, FL, Christina is a woman on the move and an inspiration to women who desire to live out all of their dreams. I reached out to Christina to learn more about her life and career journey.
Tell me a little about yourself?
I was raised in a small town called Hinesville, located by Savannah, Ga, where I lived for over 15 years. I then moved to Atlanta, Ga where I studied management at the Atlanta University Center. After a couple of years, I developed a passion for the medical field and re-entered college at Brewton-Parker College, where I studied Psychology. While studying Psychology, I began teaching art classes while working in the Art Therapy department at the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health.
How long have been a photographer?
What kind of photography do you shoot?
I specialize in Wildlife and Travel, Family, Children, Commercial and Editorial.
How did you train to become a photographer?
I learned how to photograph by observing and studying my favorite magazines, Vogue and National Geographic. For the longest, I would study the poses of the models in vogue and the symmetry, contrasts, and scenes in National Geographic pictures. I then purchased my first digital camera in 2006, and in 2008, my first SLR camera. I then began shooting nature and people and I would submit my images to the public for critique.
What is the most challenging thing you face as a photographer?
The most challenging thing I face is time. All the photographs I take have to be taken at the right time of day. If it is too dark, then I may not capture what I came to photograph. If I have a vision for a photograph, the time of day plays a vital role in whether I can capture the image or not.
What’s the most rewarding thing about being a photographer?
The most rewarding thing about photography is bringing happiness to people around me. Whether it’s a beautiful scene or a beautiful portrait, I like that my images can put a smile on somebody’s face. I also enjoy visiting amazing locations, that people typically can not travel, and sharing my imagery from around the world… This is also very rewarding.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in a career in photography?
Everybody has seen what you have seen, but only a true photographer can capture the feeling and emotion. Photography is a skill of its own that you are born with. You have to have a natural eye for knowing which images are impacting and speak to the audience ….. without words.
Do you have any other career goals or jobs?
I plan on expanding my photography and art business into additional art forms. I am currently working as a coordinator and medical screener/evaluator for infants and toddlers.
What do you like to do in your downtime?
On my downtime, I love reading, designing jewelry and furniture painting. Occasionally, I am commissioned to paint murals.
Who or what inspires you?
My mother, brother, father and husband inspire me the most. I think it is very important to surround myself with people who are encouraging and very supportive.
What keeps you grounded?
I would say religion keeps me grounded. I think that religion and spirituality are inspirational, motivating and fulfilling. It keeps me grounded and it keeps me on track. I am so thankful that I have these things to guide me in life.
What’s the best life or business advice you’ve received?
The best advice I have been given is to always have a back-up plan. I apply this to my life in everything I do, from photography shoots, to my career, from everyday life and more. Having a back-up plan is a safety net.
Coffee or tea drinker?
I am a tea drinker! I love the history of tea, and I love drinking it. My favorite teas are mint tea and raspberry tea.
Morning or night person?
Hahahaha Neither! I don’t stay up late, and I don’t like waking up early.
Do you have a favorite book?
I do not have a favorite, but I do have a favorite genre of books that I like reading. I love reading about archaeology and expeditions. I enjoy these books because they look into the ancient past and they unearth some of earths preserved secrets. There are so many unearthed artifacts and findings still to be discovered. So archaeology is my favorite genre of books, especially archaeology centered around discoveries in Egypt.