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{low down, throw down with deb schwedhelm}


what's not to love about deb schwedhelm and her photography. such emotion, beauty and true talent shine through in all that she does. she is an amazing person and it shows in all that she does.
she inspires me. she inspires so many. there are not words to say how much her photography touches my heart.

i'm thrilled to introduce you to deb schwedhelm....

Name: deb schwedhelm

Business name: deb schwedhelm photography

Location: soon-to-be tampa (we’re moving from KS to FL in july)


website -- http://debsphotographs.com/

blog -- http://www.debsphotographs.com/photoblog/

Tell us one sentence to describe your photography:

i would describe my photography as evocative and raw with an infusion of passion and beauty. i often wonder if others would describe it similarly. i hope so.

What's one thing that everyone should know about you?:

i love my family more than anything else in this world and would do anything for them -- i am blessed and grateful!. i hope i make them happy and proud.

Do you have any formal training or are you self taught?:

i am completely self taught, although i have attended a few workshops here and there. in 2006, we fell into $5000 because of an unfortunate military housing situation. i asked my husband what he thought about me using that money to pursue photography (i had always dreamed that i would day go to photography school and become a photographer). he said, go for it! i did and have never looked back. i studied photography books, online resources, forums...anything i could get my hands on at the time.

If they made a movie about your life what would it be titled and who would play you?

oh my gosh...that’s so hard. i’ve had people tell me i should write a book about my childhood, but i’ve never thought about a title. hmmm...maybe it would call it the outlier. i don’t know who would play me as a child, but my friend, steph beaty, said maggie gyllenhaal would be perfect to play me as an adult.

What does beautiful mean to you?

beauty, for me, comes from within; i find things ‘beautiful’ when they touch or speak to my heart for one reason or another.

One item in your life that you couldn't live without is:

my family. is that an item? ;-) but seriously, i could not live without my family.

What is your greatest post processing tip that you are willing to share?:

understand the power of the basics before getting into actions, e.g. curves, levels, layers, etc. actions should not be thought of or used as one-button wonders.

If you could photograph a celebrity (living or dead) who would it be and why?:

i would love to photograph helen keller -- what an incredible and inspiring woman!

What have you found to be the best resources and/or method of advertising?:

without a doubt, word-of-mouth!! provide a great product and treat your clients the way they deserve to be treated and they will advertise for you.

What is something that can always be found in your refrigerator?

skim milk. my kids love their morning cereal and i hear lots of grumbling if the milk has run out. i try to always have a gallon on back-up.

What equipment do you use and if you had only one lens to use...what would it be?:

i recently switched from canon to nikon, for the second time so my current equipment is:

nikon D700

nikon 50mm f/1.2G

nikon 28-70mm f/2.8

lensbaby composer

SX-70 polaroid

i’d have to say that my lens of choice (at the moment) is my 50mm f/1.2. that might change later. i really love both my 50mm and 28-70mm.

What has been your most embarrassing professional moment?

i must have had an embarrassing professional moment but i can’t recall it right now. i’m sure as soon as i submit this, i’ll be like, oh yea...

What was your first paid session like? Were you nervous? Did it turn out how you wanted?

funny enough, one of my very first paid sessions was steph beaty and her family (husband and newborn, liam at the time). she was a referral from carrie sandoval. was i nervous? hell yes! i started my business six months after i picked up a DSLR for the first time -- way too early. i even pulled out an alien bee at the session and shot with it for a while, which was crazy because i had only practiced with it a couple times and didn’t really know what i was doing (haven’t used it since). i think i panicked a bit. lol. here’s a shot from their session, which i still love:

Is there a song that inspires you and lifts your spirits when you hear it?

not really a song but rather artists. when i’m longing to get inspired, i’ll listen to music that makes me happy. i typically default to bright eyes, dave matthews, kings of leon, johnny cash and edward sharpe & the magnetic zeroes.

What is at the top of your wish list right now?:

a smooth move to tampa (my eighth move). we moved to kansas, knowing it was a one-year tour – my husband is an explosive ordnance disposal officer in the navy. the most challenging part of moving is transferring my 13-year-old to a new school. she’s deaf with a cochlear implant and every state’s schools are different; therefore, i have to re-advocate for kiele, with each and every move. she uses CART in the classroom, which is pretty progressive for oral deaf/hard-of-hearing children; very few middle and high school students use CART across the country. some districts are more receptive than others; we’ve definitely experienced our fair share of good and bad.

p.s. i hope you didn’t mean my photography wish list.

Who is the first photographer that comes to your mind and why?

leah zawadzki because we talk on the phone about 5-10 times every day and we just launched our second wallflower friends workshop together yesterday.

Do you use actions or presets? If so, what are your favorites?:

i use bits and pieces of actions and presets and then add my own stuff. my editing changes regularly and often revolves around my mood.

some of my favorites are lilyblue’s (leah zawadzki), child’s play’s (peta mazey) and wynona robison’s.

If we surprised you at your house today, what would be the first thing we would notice?

you’d notice that my cute dog, charley, just piddled all over your feet.

What photography based organizations do you belong to?




give ten project

And lastly.....when we started the maternal lens all of us filled out this questionnaire and shared our answers....now it's your turn :)

What is your favorite word? love

What is your least favorite word? hate

What turns you on creatively spiritually or emotionally? happiness and (inner) beauty

What turns you off creatively spiritually or emotionally? mean or rude people

What sound or noise do you love? my kids’ laughter

What sound or noise do you hate? repetitive noises drive me crazy; for example, the constant tapping of a pencil.

What is your favorite thing to say when you get mad? when my kids aren’t around, it’s a cuss word that starts with an F.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? i would love to someday be very active in a charitable organization.

What profession would you not like to do? one of those people who has to gather animals for slaughter. it’s terrible to even think about, although i sometimes do, ever since watching food, inc.

If Heaven exists what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? welcome and thanks for being such a good person. we’re so happy you’re here!

a HUGE thank you to deb!!!


  1. Okay this is probably the first one where I was just in awe of their work. A lot of great photographers on here, but her creativity caught my eye!! :)

  2. Awesome interview. Eclectic and original shots and processing.

  3. One of my favorite photographers. Wonderful!

  4. Beautiful work! What an inspiration. I love the use of the Lensbaby and the textures. Incredible.

  5. Loved reading about Deb and seeing her beautiful work!

  6. Always an inspiration, Deb. Lovely interview!

  7. I love her work and really appreciate how she pushes the boundaries of typical family portraiture. Looking through her portfolio has inspired me to challenge myself further in my own photography, to think outside of the box more. I had never seen her work until today, and now I'm a big, big fan.

  8. deb is a beautiful person inside and out. i had the honor of attending the first wallflower friends workshop and it was incredible! deb's work always stops me in my tracks. great interview!

  9. Great interview, she seems like a person I'd like as a friend. Love the kids in swimsuits portrait and parents with newborn portrait.

  10. Stunning work! I am in Gainesville, FL, and we love Tampa, especially the Dali museum. Sending you positive moving vibes!

  11. Beautiful work. I love your spirit & your love for your family. One question- every time you move do you just start over with your business? Thank you for sharing your story!

  12. @judy, i started my business in san diego and kansas was my first move with the business. knowing this tour was only a year, i didn't try to establish things here. but i will definitely be attempting to establish my business in tampa and am hoping for the best. :-))

    thanks everyone for the super sweet comments.


  13. deb was my inspiration to journey from amateur to semi-pro. she is truly a magical person---inside and out. had the pleasure of meeting her along with jess---and to say the least, i still haven't come down off that high. i'm sure many of my friends are sick of hearing about "my retreat" and my friends. loved the interview!

  14. What an awesome person!! Inspiring in so many ways. What a lovely way to start my morning! :)

  15. WOW such a beautiful post!!

  16. deb - you are simply lovely. xo


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