Meet Shoestring Triptographer and Freelance Photographer Mikaela

Don’t we all dream about finding what we’re passionate about and then making it a career? Meet Shoestring Adventures Triptographer Mikaela Hamilton Steinwedell who did just that! In college she bought a camera so that she’d be able to take higher quality photos during a volunteer trip to the Dominican Republic. While in the Dominican Republic, she discovered her talent and love for capturing moments through a lens and the rest is history!

Pretty much from that moment on, I shot anything and anyone I could get in front of my lens.

We are excited to have her on the team as a Triptographer! She loves shooting people and places and loves landscapes so much that she knows what her soul would look like if it were a landscape! Intrigued? Keep reading and then check out her website and Instagram!

Shoestring Warrior: Mikaela Hamilton Steinwedell

Hometown:

Austin, TX

Current Location:

Santa Barbara, CA

Profession:

Freelance portrait & lifestyle photographer

What are your passions outside of work?

Yoga, poetry, playing outside, running, playing/listening to music, travel, family dinners with friends, art, meaningful conversation, and bonfires

Tell us about yourself!

I was born in Texas, grew up in Georgia, studied Communications at James Madison University in Virginia, lived in Nashville for 5 years, and am now calling Santa Barbara home. I grew up an avid soccer player & uncovered my love for photography while I was attending college. I’ve had the gift of being a freelance photographer for 6 years, and am so grateful for the places I’ve seen and people I’ve met along the way. A solid hike with great friends followed up by food, beer, and a bonfire is a dream day in my book.

What are you most looking forward to as you embark on your journey as a Triptographer for Shoestring Adventures?

Merging my two biggest passions & meeting new friends! Whenever I get a spare moment, you can find me outside & taking pictures. Being a Triptographer allows me to explore with others outside and capture the incredible places we go.

It’s also a treat to document some people’s first experience outdoors!

It’s a great reminder for me to always be curious towards my surroundings and grateful for where my body can take me.

How would you describe your level of camping experience?

Funnily enough, I can’t actually remember my first camping experience. I was probably in the end of high school or beginning of college. I went to college in the Shenandoah Valley, so I did some mini camping trips while I was in school, but I really ramped up my outdoor adventure after college. I’ve camped in some pretty incredible places & some pretty weird places – both are memorable in their own way. I feel really lucky to have gotten to sleep outside as often as I have.

You spent 2017 living on the road; what did you enjoy most about the nomadic lifestyle?

The ability to take a turn whenever it presented itself.

When did you first discover your love for photography?

I’ve always been curious about photography, but athletics consumed most of my childhood and I never associated myself as a creative person. In 2010, I went to the Dominican Republic with a program at James Madison University, and I bought a Nikon d60 (which was the camera my friend owned, and the only type of camera I knew of) so I could have higher quality pictures. While in the DR, I was volunteering at a local school and playing with some of the kids on the playground. There was a little boy named Samuel there, with unbelievably striking hazel eyes. I took some pictures of him, looked at the results on my camera and thought “whoa, not only do I like taking pictures, I think I may be good at it.”

Pretty much from that moment on, I shot anything and anyone I could get in front of my lens.

When I graduated, I moved to Nashville to pursue freelance full time. Fast forward 6 years later with lots of adventure, mistakes made, and lessons learned, here I am!

People, animals, landscapes, inanimate objects, which do you prefer to shoot and why?

I love people & places. I’m drawn to contrasting light and anything dark and moody.

If my soul could be a landscape it would be a mountain with evergreens covered in fog (preferably also with coffee, good music, and an empty road, but I won’t get picky).

People are endlessly interesting, and it is a gift when someone is vulnerable enough to let me capture their truest self.

Which photographers or artists inspire you the most?

  • Luca Tombolini- his desert landscapes look like paintings- pure art
  • Laura Dart- her film photos emit so much emotion & nostalgia
  • Brett Warren- he brings such a unique eye to fashion photography
  • Samm Blake- she presents a classic & intimate peak into weddings
  • Allister Ann- musician photographer queen

Where was your most favorite photo assignment and why did you enjoy it so much?

Most recently, I got to document a 5 day whitewater canoeing expedition with Outward Bound in Big Bend National Park.

I had never been whitewater canoeing, so I was challenged both creatively & physically the whole trip.

Photographing the trip helped me process where I was and the things I was experiencing, while (hopefully) authentically capturing what an expedition with Outward Bound entailed. If you haven’t had a chance to explore the Santa Elena Canyon, go! It is a magical place.

What advice do you have for aspiring outdoor photographers?

Shoot what catches your eye, not what you think will score big on social media. We have enough photographer clones, I want to see how the natural world inspires you & let that motivate others to get outside and document the outdoors through their unique lenses.

Where’s your next adventure?

I’m hoping to hike the John Muir Trail this September!

The perfect s’more? (if you don’t like s’mores, what’s your favorite campfire dessert?)

Dark Chocolate Reese’s (or if we’re getting extra fancy, Justin’s Dark Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter Cup), golden marshmallow squished firmly between the graham crackers, hold the s’more over the fire for a few seconds to melt the chocolate. Now I need to go make a s’more.

Photos © 2018 Mikaela Hamilton Steinwedell



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