Masthead header

Marching into the unknown || Augusta, GA Photographer

Dreamer By Marissa Dodgen

For those that know me it is no secret that my favorite movie is You’ve Got Mail & as I was watching it today, one moment/scene that I have watched a thousand times stuck out to me. Meg Ryan’s character Kathleen Kelly goes over to Birdie’s house for lunch & Birdie asks her:

“so what have you decided to do?”

Kathleen Kelly tells her friend that she is going to close her beloved bookstore after 40 years in business, the only life she has ever known. Birdie then says:

“closing the store is the brave thing to do… are marching into the unknown…”

There is so much weight in those words if you think about it. 

Do you have a dream? Not a wish, but a dream? Something you could work toward, but know you would have to bust your tail for? Something attainable if you commit to it? I’m sure you do! We all do. 

I do! As much as I love & enjoy photography, my first love & passion is for food & healthy living. Having been on this food allergy journey with our son has opened my eyes up to a world within the food world that is so untapped & in need of some passion & drive & life. My dream….to be the Ree Drummond of the food allergy & real food world. I’m talking the land, the photography, & cookbooks. The whole nine yards! I’m working on restarting a separate food blog dedicated to food, family, health, & life. I’ll keep you updated on that…..

Until then, let me introduce you to a dreamer who has had a profound impact on me…

McKenna Hydrick- Dreamer by Marissa Dodgen 

This is McKenna. Remember her from a few weeks ago? McKenna is a dreamer. McKenna’s dream is to provide a living for her family doing the thing she is most passionate about, music! In a conversation a while back, she told me it wasn’t about being famous, it was about providing a life for her family doing something that made her heart sing (no pun intended). I was so psyched last night to see they are one step closer to that dream. I’m so proud of my friend. I’m so inspired by her to reach for my dream.

McKenna Hydrick- Dreamer by Marissa Dodgen

So now I ask you…What is your dream? No really, what do you want more than anything? Leave me some comments & join in on the dream journey on instagram with #dreamchasers15

Back to topShare this on FacebookTweet this postEmail Me

Taking Better Pictures- Angles tell a story || Augusta, GA Photography Teacher

So you have a fancy camera or a new phone that takes better pictures, but you still are underwhelmed by your pictures. Lets change that! So follow along with the “Taking Better Pictures” series & learn how to take better pictures with whatever you take pictures with. 

In this first post of the series, I am going to cover angles, but not the kind of angles you learn in geometry– because let’s be honest, I am so not the person to teach that kind of stuff. First an example:

Taking Better Pictures- Angels Marissa Dodgen Photography

Camera: Sony a55, Lens: 35 mm, ISO 400, Shutter: 1/200, aperture: f/1.8

**Settings will be different each time. Settings vary based on the lighting, the room, the time of day, the weather, the camera, the photographer, etc. Use settings only as information for shooting better, not as ideal settings for your camera or that particular picture. 


This^ is how most people take pictures. From their personal perspective. How they are seeing the moment. There is nothing wrong with that, except that moment can be much more powerful if you change your perspective or in this case your angle. 

So here’s another example:


Taking Better Pictures- Angles Marissa Dodgen Photography

Camera: a55, Lens: 35mm, ISO 400, shutter: 1/200, aperture: f/1.8

By changing my perspective I have changed the picture. This image is much more powerful. Notice my settings have not changed. Same lens. So what did change?

Instead of shooting from my height (angle) & just taking the picture, I dropped down to Addy’s level, got a little closer, & focused in on her instead of taking in the whole scene. Every picture tells a story & the story here was…Addy is cute in her brother’s hat, shoveling sweet potatoes in her mouth. That story is told in both pictures, but by dropping down to her level & changing my angle to her, I focus in on the subject of the picture…Addy. Everything else just adds to the story.

You can still tell she is little because you can see the high chair.

You can still tell she was eating because you see it on her face (which you couldn’t really see in the first picture) & smooshed into her fingers.

You can still see the hat, but it is no longer the focus.

Addy is the center of this picture & it much more likely to end up on a gallery wall or on facebook because it makes more sense right off the bat. Your initial reaction is “awe she’s cute” instead of “she’s eating in her brother’s hat”. With every picture you want to bring emotion, not fact (unless you are a reporter). “She’s eating in her brother’s hat” are the facts. “awe she’s cute” is the emotion (well it’s a fact too, but I’m bias). 

So I challenge you to change your angle to what you are photographing. If you are taking a picture from above something, drop down to the level of your subject. This will instantly give you better, more powerful photos. 

So let’s take a look a few more examples:

Taking Better Photos- Angles Marissa Dodgen Photography

Camera: a55, lens: 50mm, ISO 1600, shutter: 1/100, aperture: f/1.8

So here’s a picture of my son’s truck…big whoop right? I was standing up (angle was above my subject) taking the picture. There’s not really much power or a story to tell in this picture. 



Camera: a55, lens: 50mm, ISO 1600, shutter: 1/100, aperture: f/1.8

In this^ picture I knelt down to the level of the truck. It still doesn’t tell a story, but it is a much more powerful image. The truck looks bigger, more colorful, & kinda more fun. I didn’t move my feet, I just dropped onto my knees & elbows. 



Camera: a55, lens: 50mm, ISO 1600, shutter: 1/100, aperture: f/1.8

Still on my knees & elbows, I looked around & saw two other trucks behind the little dump truck. I simply switched my angle to the dump truck to include the other two trucks. I was shooting from the right of the truck & switched to shoot from the left side of the truck. By just doing that, I found a story. There’s more than one truck in our house & we have a boy & a girl. Still a powerful, colorful image, but now there’s a story. 

Once more example:


Camera: a55, Lens: 50mm, ISO: 100, shutter: 1/100, aperture: f/1.8

Again, I am standing up in this picture. I saw the shoes on the porch & took the picture. You see the umbrella but what else do you know? Is there a story? Why are the shoes on the porch?


Taking Better Pictures- Angles tell stories Marissa Dodgen Photography
camera: a55, lens: 50mm, ISO: 1600, shutter: 1/160, aperture: f/6.3 

 So what do we know now? There are shoes on the porch & umbrella because it’s raining & we know that because you can see the puddles on the porch behind the shoes. See? Right there, a story! I didn’t move my position, I again dropped down to my knees & elbows & shot the picture on the same plane as my subject. I changed my angle to the subject & instantly I have a story with my picture. 

So I challenge you to try & change your angle & see if your photos improve. Join in with me by following me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter & use the hashtag #MDPtakingbetterpics. I look forward to seeing how your photos improve. 

Lots of love & thanks, 


Back to topShare this on FacebookTweet this postEmail Me

My own family pictures || Augusta, GA Family Photographer

Being a photographer has made me realize many things, but the value in a really great photographer is on the top of my list. There is a level of skill & talent that doesn’t just come from anybody. A good photographer can take a nice picture of you or your kids, but a great photographer can blow you away & make you say “Oh my gosh, I loooooovvvvveeeee them!” {{{squeal}}} 

I have always found value in photography, but I have truly learned the worth of great photography since becoming a photographer myself. It is true that you can have a great snap shot or a decent family picture taken at a pumpkin patch that is worthy of a facebook profile, but those are few and far between. You can take great pictures of your kids, but what about you? You need to be in pictures too! That is the situation I find myself in most of the time. Since my daughter has been born we only have one… ONE… family picture of all four of us that isn’t from the hospital & it was taken when she was eight months old at her dedication (thankfully our church also sees the value in great photography otherwise we wouldn’t have that one either). 

Being a photographer, I am lucky to know some amazing photographers. I came across Angel Murphy in a photography group & was really drawn to her style & use of light (which is a big deal to me). I loved the warmth of her photography & the lifestyle perspective she has. I am a lifestyle photographer, but I am also a portrait photographer & really enjoy setups & making pictures special & directing my clients to get the picture I am going for. Angel, however, is a true lifestyle photographer. She sits back & captures life as it happens & I LOVE that. It was such a relaxed session & she captured our family style & my kids personalities so well. I am so excited to have some amazing photos of all four of us to decorate our home. Thank you Angel….I am in love with your photos. 




Back to topShare this on FacebookTweet this postEmail Me

Hydrick Family at Sanderlin Horse Farm || Augusta, GA Family Photographer

I have been so blessed to know this family. I have been so blessed to be able to watch them grow over the years too. Not just the boys, but the journey of this family. Mom- McKenna, is an incredibly talented writer & a brillant musician, as well as a fellow foodie; but really what makes this family so special is their faith. Their faith as a family. Their faith that it will all work out in the end the way the Lord plans it to. They seem to live by Jeremiah 29:11 & 12 ” ‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

The two oldest Hydrick boys, live with an incurable esophagus disease called eosinophilic esophagitis. It masks itself as food allergies but wreaks havoc on their little bodies. After years of struggling, their diseases seem to be under control but still subject these two amazing souls to countless procedures, a lot of pain, & the isolation of being different & really at seven & four what you want more than to just be like your friends. However, watching them….you would never know. All three boys are rambunctious, loving, talkative, but they have a deeper understanding that is well beyond their years.

Soon I will say goodbye to my beloved clients & good friends as they hope to venture off to Nashville. I wish you luck Hydricks as you pursue your dreams & a better life for your family… {{{hugs & kisses}}} 

Marissa Dodgen Photography- Family Session|| The Barn at Sanderlin Horse Farm


Marissa Dodgen Photography- Family Session|| The Barn at Sanderlin Horse Farm 

Marissa Dodgen Photography- Family Session|| The Barn at Sanderlin Horse Farm

Marissa Dodgen Photography- Family Session|| The Barn at Sanderlin Horse Farm

Marissa Dodgen Photography- Family Session|| The Barn at Sanderlin Horse Farm

Marissa Dodgen Photography- Family Session|| The Barn at Sanderlin Horse Farm

Marissa Dodgen Photography- Family Session|| The Barn at Sanderlin Horse Farm

Marissa Dodgen Photography- Family Session|| The Barn at Sanderlin Horse Farm



Back to topShare this on FacebookTweet this postEmail Me
ElizabethJanuary 6, 2015 - 12:48 pm

Your post made me cry! You already know how much I love the pictures!! These 3 boys are very blessed!

marissa.dodgen@yahoo.comJanuary 10, 2015 - 10:25 am

This family means a lot to me, so the sentiment just kind of pours out of me. Really it does for all my clients. I take each session very personal.

My prayer for my business in 2015 || Augusta, GA Photographer

I love New Years. I love the new start, fresh beginnings, & the chance to get right what you feel like you got wrong the year before. Even though, truthfully, what you think you have gotten wrong has led you to exactly where you are. God doesn’t make mistakes. You might, but He doesn’t. 

So with the new year approaching I, as I always do, have been thinking about the next year to follow. What I want to do differently, get right, do better, etc. As I was cooking in the kitchen the other day, I looked out the back window & saw this….

Revelations from the backyard- Marissa Dodgen Photography

In the midst of a dreary, wet colorless day was this amazing spot of color. These little cars are always colorful, but on this particular day’s end it was even brighter than it normally would have been because every thing around it was without color. In the midst of the death of the environment, cold, & rain this little car was just as bright as ever. It made me think… no matter how dark, slow, or out-of-whack life feels there is always a bright spot & that bright spot shows brighter in those dark moments. 

So my prayer for my business in 2015 & really beyond is this….

You call me out upon the waters

The great unknown where feet may fail

And there I find You in the mystery

In oceans deep

My faith will stand


Your grace abounds in deepest waters

Your sovereign hand

Will be my guide

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me

You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

Hillsong United “Oceans”


I encourage you to find a prayer& pray it over your business, your family, & your life. When things get rough or aren’t going the way you expected or planned, retreat & pray those words over the situation. 


Lots of love & thanks,



Back to topShare this on FacebookTweet this postEmail Me