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Rising Stars: Meet Marianna Johnson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marianna Johnson.  

Hi Marianna, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I had my second daughter 4 years ago at age 29. I had her newborn photos done and thought “I wonder if I could do that.” I played around with my beginner’s camera a little, but with a newborn and 4-year-old at home and a husband that worked so much, I convinced myself I didn’t have the time. 

As the infant stage passed with my daughter and I started to have a little more time, I picked up a camera again and started with maternity, newborn, and family photography. As the business grew, I decided I wanted to explore wedding photography. I invested in a ton of education, learned as much as I could, and quickly built up that side of my business. Weddings are a heartfelt and beautiful experience- raw and emotional. And I have truly enjoyed them this far. 

On the horizon though, I am so excited to begin moving more towards women’s branding photography. I believe that women are powerful and creative. I started a photography business from nothing; I had no degree and no background. In fact, I have a bachelor’s in Secondary Education. However, I agreed to invest in myself, put my time into something that I was passionate about, and I just went for it. Life is too short to play it so safe. I am so excited to work with other women business owners that have a beautiful vision and want to turn it into something tangible. To go after your passion and monetize it is such an amazing mission in our lifetime. 

I have also built a Facebook group of amazing business women: The Women’s Business Collective – East Michigan and am currently working to grow that group. My ultimate goal is to hold events and retreats for women business owners to come together and help themselves and one another grow by moving through self-limitation and calling their highest dream into being. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Absolutely not. I lost my cousin, grandpa, and dad all in a span of one year between my Junior and Senior year in high school. After that, I got a waitressing job to pay bills while I went to school. A couple of years into college I met my husband and then about a year later decided to take some time off since I was just wasting money changing my major back and forth. Christopher and I also decided to move in with my grandmother and be her primary caregivers at the time. So, life could be really hectic. Eventually, she had to move into assisted living. Chris and I then got engaged, got married, and had our first daughter. 

But, through all that, I still had no clue what I wanted. Ultimately, I needed to decide either way. I knew I was being called to do something, but I didn’t know what so I went and finished my Bachelor’s in Education anyway. I then realized that the typical teaching environment isn’t what I wanted, at all. I got pregnant with my second daughter, had her in 2018, and just could not shake the feeling that I wasn’t meant to only be a stay-at-home mom. 

I picked up my little beginner Canon camera and just started taking photos. It was messy and, in the beginning, I wasn’t that great. But I invested in myself and my education and I started to get better. Then Covid happened and there wasn’t even an opportunity to take photos at all. I embraced that thought and invested in a lot of education in 2020. It was definitely a reset button for everyone. 

I can’t believe where these last four years have gone. I would have never guessed that I would be where I am now. 

If you have a dream, keep going, everyone always says that time will just pass anyway and that is very true. 

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a women’s branding photographer moving into more of a niche market that includes coaches and creative entrepreneurs. I am so proud that I get to work with amazing women that have a vision and get just as excited about their brand sessions as I do. I truly enjoy what I do. 

I am known for more lifestyle branding photography, not just headshot photography. 

I am about to launch my first women’s retreat that combines spiritual aspects as well as business. Running a business isn’t just about your business – it is ultimately about YOU, too. We are our own limits and we have to push through our limiting beliefs to gain confidence, stand out, and draw in our dream clients. 

So maybe we end by discussing what matters most to you and why?
That I am living authentically and enjoying the journey. Life is not about the destination. So often I hear people say, “I will go do that when x happens.” The problem with that way of thinking is that you are always waiting around for the second circumstance. We are in control of our beautiful life and it is up to us to take inspired action toward our dreams. 

Our dreams are not going to fall into our laps or get handed to us on a silver platter. You can’t wait to launch a business until everything is absolutely perfect. You have to go first, you have to do it messy, and you have to ultimately fail so you can redirect and fix and make adjustments. 

We have to ultimately step into the person that we want to BE. I value empowering women to show up and step into that part of themselves.

Contact Info:

  • Email: Marianna@MariannaJohnson.com
  • Website: www.mariannajohnson.com
  • Instagram: mariannajohnsonphotos_branding
  • Facebook: @Marianna Johnson Photography


Image Credits

Marianna Johnson

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