As soon as the Police Academy graduate spots his son, he walks over and embraces him in a hug. The son smiles widely over his father’s shoulder and the sun beams on them both. Junior Maddie Malan captures the heartwarming scene with her camera.
Malan, of maddiemalanphotography.com, is an established photographer with a growing business.
The same camera that Malan uses to capture this event was given to her for her 15th birthday.
“My dad had a big camera that I would use a lot,” Malan said. “Then he went out and got me one for my birthday.”
Malan said her father and her took a photography class together soon after her birthday and that was when she started using the camera properly. She learned how to work the camera in manual mode instead of keeping to automatic camera mode which gives her more control over features such as shutter speed or aperture, Malan said.
“[Photography] is definitely a creative outlet for me,” Malan said.
Malan’s first job, the event that inspired her to set up a website, was for a family friend who was graduating from the Police Academy, Malan said.
“There was the actual graduation ceremony and then there was a party afterwards,” Malan said.
Malan said she really enjoys being creative in a lot of different aspects, which was even apparent in her as a child.
“My mom’s a graphic designer and I’ve always loved to mess around with fonts and stuff on her computer,” Malan said.
Malan said that when she was about seven-years-old, she would steal her dad’s camera, set up her barbies in certain positions, and take pictures of them.
“I liked documenting them, it made them feel like real people,” Malan said.
Malan said she loves taking portraits with a relaxed subject that is laughing or smiling at a friend off camera.
“I think that captures somebody’s personality,” Malan said.
Malan takes portraits year round, but December and November are generally good months for her business, Malan said.
“During the holiday season, I find things pick up a lot,” Malan said. “I’ve got a couple holiday parties coming up. I’m going to be the photographer for the Holly Ball that Cancer League puts on. I’m going to the Debutante Ball as a photographer for a specific family.”
Malan said she also has Christmas card photoshoots coming up, especially over Thanksgiving break when she has two photoshoots a day, along with some other birthday parties.
“Sometimes it’s hard academically,” Malan said. “I generally prioritize school, but it just means that I get behind on my editing sometimes and I have clients that are like ‘Okay, we need to send our Christmas card out. Come on!’”
Malan said that sometimes she has to stay up an extra hour at night to make sure that she has time to edit. She photographs a lot of families with high school kids, so her sessions are usually on weekends, Malan said.
“I feel like [photography] made me a lot of connections with adults and a lot of different people that I wouldn’t necessarily be connected to,” Malan said.
Some people know Malan as ‘the girl who takes the pictures.’ Malan brought her camera to the homecoming rally and started taking pictures of a group of freshmen and they all knew who she was, Malan said.
“I’ve been bringing my camera to rallies for a while and in the beginning people are like ‘Are you in yearbook? Are you in journalism? What are you doing?’ and now people are like ‘is this going on Maddie Malan Photography?’” Malan said.
Malan said she priced her cost for a portrait session, which includes a sitting and editing, on her own.
“Maddie has really done everything with respect to her business on her own,” father Jon Malan said. “She asked questions about pricing and process, but she then executes everything on her own.”
However, with regards to brainstorming about design projects, Maddie Malan occasionally refers to mother Kristen Malan, Kristen Malan said.
“We have used Maddie for holiday cards and event photos,” middle school teacher Jamie Van Kleeck said. “She has raw talent that shines in her stunning photos.”