Madeline Harper

A while back we introduced you to the lovely Madeline Harper and her beautiful photography. We are so thrilled she agreed to allow us a follow up interview so we can all get to know her a little better. Today she discusses community, her upcoming return to Texas, and so much more.

Heirloom: In our last interview you mentioned how important community is in your life. Would you mind expounding on that a little? What do you mean by community and how does it impact you? 

Madeline: Community has such a sweet place in my life. I am beyond lucky to have quality people who surround me and speak into my life on a daily basis- my family, dear friends, other photographers. That collaboration is a major part of how I began and continue to run this business. Fortunately, my sister is in the creative wedding industry,she’s a phenomenal floral designer and artist, who is a daily encouragement and offers wise business guidance. She has shaped the direction of my business the most, with her constant affirmation and honest advice. There are several photographers I have learned from who still to this day will answer questions, have a morning of editing, or meet up for coffee and just talk life and business. It’s a beautiful thing to throw away competition for the joy of collaboration and spurring each others businesses on. I am constantly inspired to greater heights because of those I’m lucky enough to live life with. 

Heirloom: You currently reside in Nashville but shoot most of your weddings in Texas. How did you move to Nashville take place and what are you most excited about as you return to Texas? 

Madeline: My move to Nashville was a longtime dream come true. After college I stumbled upon an amazing organization, The Mocha Club, who was hiring an intern. I moved up a couple weeks later. At the same time I continued my photography business back home, while starting it in a new state. This city feels similar in ways to Austin, it’s a great creative community and an exciting city to live in. I adore my Texas weddings. I have the sweetest network of brides across the state that I still keep up with. Every wedding I shoot there is a chance to see my family and old friends, it’s a deep sense of being home. I’m excited to see my business grow- I’ve mainly been shooting in Houston, but would love to expand more to Austin, Dallas, and West Texas.  

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Heirloom: What draws you to humanitarian photography? 

Madeline: There is a beauty in finding connections in stories. I have always loved to travel, to explore cities and immerse myself in new cultures. I realized that telling visual stories can connect us to people we could never meet otherwise. It’s such a powerful tool for organizations to show others what they do. More importantly, it’s a way for us to realize that even though this is a huge world, we have more in common with a fourteen year old girl from Iganga, Uganda than we believe. We have a similar sense of humor as the eleven year old boy from Nicaragua. We see a picture of a hundred year old man across the globe and are inspired by his tenacity. We see the mom of eight carrying a water jug up a dusty path and are moved by her strength. There are surprising points of common interest, there are immeasurable moments of learning. I love being able to bring pieces of the globe back to those I know here and hopefully inspiring them through telling those stories. 

Heirloom: What was your experience working with Young Life in college? How did you get connected with them and what was most impactful about serving in that capacity? 

Madeline: I attended Young Life in high school then decided to be a leader all through college where I led at a diverse high school for over three years and took kids to camp in Colorado multiple times. There are two things that majorly impacted my heart- the dependency of ministry and the beauty of discipleship. I went into this ministry not knowing what to expect and walked away with a complete dependency on the Lord for strength, intentional conversations, and wisdom. The Lord used every person on our team in unique ways to reach every type of kid imaginable. His strength was so much greater than trying to do it out of our own- you had to learn to be an empty vessel, and that was a glorious and challenging thing. Every time I came to the end of my rope, the Lord showed that He was greater still and could act in completely new ways. The second thing I walked away with was a deep love for discipleship. I never knew that was an inclination of mine until after I led a team of six college girls and walked through high school with many kids. It fills my heart to be able to speak truth and life into others and to form those deep relationships based on faith. I currently lead YL for college kids in Nashville as well! It is the most worthwhile thing I’ve done with my time. 

Heirloom: You travel all over to capture people's big moments. Tell us about your travel routine. Do you have any tips and tricks for us? 

Madeline: My travel routine is pretty set in stone. The night before I always call my sister to make sure I have everything packed, I’m notorious for either completely over packing or forgetting everything I need. I make a list of what I need to pick up on wedding day and put that in my camera bag. I only take a carry on duffel and my camera bag with me, it makes me feel better knowing I have all my luggage on me. I go to bed early and wake up with the sun! I drink my morning coffee, throw on an upbeat playlist, and put on a favorite outfit. Traveling can make you feel frumpy, so I always throw on a comfortable and stylish outfit. Lately I’ve been flying in a maxi skirt and tank top, easy to throw on for early morning flights and simple to spice up! I bring my Bible, journal, and a great book for the plane ride.

My tips would be to always make sure you have your boarding passes emailed to your phone, it saves a ton of time in the airport. Also, schedule an extra day on the front side of your trip. The worst thing in the world would be to have a plane delay and miss any part of the occasion you’re hired to photograph! I always have a buffer day to ensure I can get there in time. Besides that, don’t sweat the small stuff. Traveling always has unexpected interruptions- roll with them and choose to embrace the joy of traveling!