Felicia McTernan: Light Inspired

One of the things I've learned since launching Little Bellows is that blogging is a lot of work!!!  I honestly had no idea!  The community of photographers and other bloggers that I've met however inspires me every day! One such person is Felicia McTernan.  Not only is Felicia a fantastic photographer (see her work below), she is also the tour de force behind Light Inspired, a forum community built to support and empower women in their photography journey.  I recently met Felicia and asked her a bit about her own story and about how Light Inspired came to be.  Here's what I found out!  (And if you're interested in the story behind Little Bellows, pop on over to the Light Inspired blog today and read Felicia's interview with me...blush)


-Sandra Coan

How did you first get into photography?

I have always had a camera with me, capturing any moment I could! Even as a young girl I remember yelling at friends to center the pictures whenever I handed my camera off. Obviously back then I still had some rules to learn about composition! A few years ago I knew I would have to contribute financially to my family at some point. I decided to really take the plunge from snapshots of my family to learning every inch of what I was capable of making my camera do. And the rest is history! I've been in business for 3 years now.

Do you have formal education or are you self taught?

I would say a bit of both. I have taken online workshops along the way, scoured google, read my manual { highly recommend being a first step } and have asked some fabulous photographers along the way for help. I also was that mean Mama dragging my kids outside to let me practice on them. Practice, practice, practice, I can't stress how important that is!

What do you shoot?  What drives you?

I started out with newborns and families. I quickly realized posed newborns are just not my style, I try to capture them in a more natural element now. I now concentrate mainly on Weddings + families and am almost completely booked for 2013!

The feedback I get from my clients is what drives me! Hearing that they are so over the moon with what I was able to capture for them makes my heart swell. Knowing they will have those memories captured forever and treasure them is such an amazing feeling. I still feel pretty lucky to have the job I do! I also just started teaching local beginner workshops and the feedback has been fantastic. Seeing other women with their camera's have that Ah Ha moment is pretty cool.

Do you have any personal projects going on?

Between FMP + Light Inspired capturing my own family has been a little tough lately. I don't want to put work first and my own babies memories on the back burner though. I just recently started a couple personal blog circles dedicated to my own family. I try to get that big girl camera out as much as possible but, if I capture our everyday with my IPhone I'm OK with that. As long as they were captured, right?!

How did Light Inspired come about?

Light Inspired originally started out as a site for others to show their work off and inspire the photography community. It was crazy! We immediately had a ton of submissions. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to start a forum this past November. I really wanted a place where photographers could come together to share their knowledge, be inspired and have a place they would be supported in their journey.

Did your personal photography and photography business influence your decision to start the Light Inspired blog and forum?

Absolutely!! I know that I would not be where I am if it were not for some amazing photographers and friends helping me along the way. There can be so many in the photography community that don't get that support. I wanted to show them that it is out there!

Tell me a little bit more about the forum.

The forum is simply put amazing. We have some unbelievably talented and supportive women on there. I really wanted to create a community where everyone felt they could jump in feet first and not feel inferior. I truly believe that everyone has something to offer regardless of where they are in their journey.

People are trying so hard to fit in that box of "perfect" images that are sharp and have everything right technically but lack emotion. They lose sight of WHY they started this in the first place - and why clients love images - for the emotion and feelings they stir within us. We can have beautiful images in which we can't count every eyelash. We can love an image with a blown highlight. It's ok. We have permission to love those. We need a site that encourages creativity and finding the beauty in the imperfect. We have enough websites that prod us to throw out those gorgeous images in favor of the cookie-cutter, technically perfect ones.

I find that we feel we need rules. We want a recipe. What we really need is to know how to shrug that off and just not care whether or not anyone else finds that image beautiful. That's when people find their styles and their supporters.

We have many sub-forums that have all of the categories you would expect. Technical, post processing, lighting, off topic. You name it it's there. We are also starting to get our online workshops set up and rolling out over the course of 2013. I am SUPER excited to be working and in touch with some amazing photographers in the industry to bring some really awesome workshops to Light Inspired. The forum is still young, only 4 months old but we are having some amazing growth. We also offer in person inspirational photography retreats at Warthan Farms in Virginia and in Massachusetts.

What inspires you most about this community that you’ve created?

The women and the friendships that are being formed. I had a member pm me the other day and tell me that if it wasn't for the feeling this community gives her she never would have had the courage to post some of her self portraits. She put herself out there in the world because of the support she receives from Light Inspired! That's just amazing. The generosity our members have with sharing their knowledge is pretty incredible also. I personally talk on a daily basis either on the phone or through text with quite a few members and have met many in person. This community reaches a lot further than just women online.

What do you look for when choosing photographers to feature?

I'm a sucker for images with that soft yummy golden light! I love seeing work that has good connection and emotion also. I want to feel it when I look at it. I absolutely want to see work that is technically correct as far as exposure, focus and white balance but I also love to see a photographer submit something that knows their stuff but went a little out of the box!

What is something unexpected that you’ve learned since launching Light Inspired?

How much time I would no longer have! Along with Light Inspired + FMP I am a wife and Mama to a bunch of littles. Up until a few years ago I was a SAHM and spending my time pregnant every year so learning to juggle work time has been something new for me. I am the type of person that needs to go go go all the time. I've learned I can't do it all. I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by an amazing team that stands behind Light Inspired! The blog has some kick butt writers, we've got some fun social media things going on, and some awesome ideas for the future!

What is the one thing you would like others to know about you?

I'm a total goofball and I can laugh at myself in a heartbeat. If you can't laugh at yourself then you'll be pretty upset when everyone else is laughing at you. Not having a sense of humor is no way to go through life.

Along with being the Founder + Owner of Light Inspired and Felicia McTernan Photography Felicia is a Nikon loving Mama + Wife. She spends her days loving her hard working hubby and running around after five little's. Born and raised on the South Shore in Massachusetts she enjoys spending her time with close friends and laughing over drinks together.