women / Women on the MOVE

Meet Woman on the Move Marjani Viola Hawkins

"Meet Woman on the Move Marjani Viola Hawkins"Meet Marjani Viola Hawkins -Photographer, Writer and a WE Magazine Woman on the Move 

Tell us about how you chose your career/business and what your responsibilities include?

I could say I chose my career path but the truth is, it chose me! Back in 2009, I became obsessed with my first DSLR Camera and could not stop taking pictures for the life of me!  Eventually, I decided to start taking portraits of my friends, and realized I could transform this hobby of mine into a career. My responsibilities as a photographer are administrative- [emailing, calling, networking] because I work freelance and must constantly make a name for MVHPhoto as a brand. When it comes down to photo-shoots, my responsibilities are to scout for locations, solicit models/talent, edit the pictures…I essentially produce a photo from conception of an idea to the final display.

With writing it is such a natural thing to me, and flows so easily, that I honestly cannot imagine my life without it. I felt like many people leaving high school, struggled to identify their ideal vocation and for me, writing [alongside photography] was too obvious to ignore. My responsibilities as a fledgling novelist are to stay motivated to edit, revise and promote my novel- as well as reach out with people in the literary community who can support my endeavors.

Tell us about your company?

MVHPhoto is the freelance photography brand that I started back in 2012; I am based in Phoenix Arizona and work primarily as a mobile studio, or on-location of a client’s choice. Although I am in AZ, I am always open to travel and often collaborate with others when I do get to visit other states or countries.

I am a one-woman team [for now] and I provide all types of photography: individual portraiture, family portraits, modeling portfolios, band/musician promotional photography, photography for other small business, lifestyle,  professional headshots, sports, concerts, sky photography- there is no limit!

I am also a freelance writer. I have written for the Lumberjack Newspaper in Flagstaff as an Opinion’s Columnist when I started college, and have also been published in a few small publications here and there- mainly in zines that are about feminism.

What are some of the most fulfilling projects you have been involved with so far (include your non-profit/volunteer work here)?

All of my editorial projects have been immensely fulfilling; I find it extremely gratifying to see a project from start to finish- which in my case is seeing my photography published either in print or online. The most exciting experience thus far would be landing the cover of Black Fox Literary Magazine, which is based in Phoenix. Editorial features within themselves are an accomplishment but seeing my work on the cover was a great moment.

As a writer, the completion of my (currently untitled) novel manuscript was extremely fulfilling.  All writers churn out a ton of projects that never get finished but this is the first one I produced with unyielding dedication. The novel is a fictional, LGBT romance, set between two co-workers with an age-gap. Controversial, yes, but I also feel it fits our current social climate, and is truly all about the power of love.

Are there any people in your field you would like to meet and/or work with and have not yet had the opportunity?

Yes, many people and publications! I would love to work with all the “indie/alternative” fashion publications that inspire me such as Zephyr Magazine, Ballad Of Magazine, Zeum Magazine…etc., My ultimate photographic dream is to do a spread for Nylon.

Locally, I would revel in the chance to do a photo-shoot for Java Magazine- they’re beyond hip and their editorials have inspired me for years!

In the literary world I would be so thrilled to meet Dean Koontz- I grew up reading his books and he has solely inspired my voice and diction when writing.

What are some of your favorite ways to network?

I like to attend mixers and small local fashion/ events. Those are usually ideal settings to strike up conversations with people who need a photographer- ranging from models to bloggers, and other small business owners. Also, I love industry mixers because they’re usually fashion shows in their own right: it’s the perfect time to go for the coolest items in my closet!

It is also exciting when word-of-mouth provides new opportunities: if I do an excellent job for one person, they usually are mindful about recommending me to others, which I truly appreciate.

Do you have a mentor – if so how did you choose one another? If not, is this something you think would benefit your career and is there anyone you would like to have as a mentor?

I feel I have had many mentors along the way who have challenged and encourage me to grow. Kate Doster [Kate Doster Photography] is a photographer who I met while networking at Phoenix Fashion Week- she is such a genuine person and she walked right up to me and set up a day for us to meet for coffee. Her gregarious, personable energy rubs off on everyone!

My other mentor is Bob Corritore, who is a blues harmonica player and the owner of the Rhythm Room in Phoenix; we met while I was taking photographs at his club one night.

In the realm of writing my copy-editor, Elizabeth Sheets, has been a very integral part of my journey as an artist; we met after I reached out to Arizona State University, looking for someone to edit my manuscript and she has single-handled plowed through all 90k+ words in under a few months!

Also, I consider my parents, and sister to be mentors- they encourage me each step of the way and always keep me positive in my moments of doubt.

I would have to say in all instances of finding people who have guided me in my career, we just ‘happened’ to run into each other and build a relationship from there.

What have you learned from your mentor? What do you hope to learn?

Kate has provided me with many opportunities and has kept me abreast with the latest in the photography industry.

Bob Corritore has taught me so many valuable lessons in how to run a business, from how to go about acquiring an LLC license to basic lessons on administrative diligence. He is one of the people who really showed me firsthand how to stay on top of my daily business correspondence, and remain attentive to detail. Bob has also come up with some of the concepts for some of my coolest photo-shoots to date! Elizabeth Sheets always informs me of new opportunities for both writing and photography- she always shares or retweets my posts and has taught me a lot about grammar and how to build the best storyline possible.

Moving forward I am definitely looking for an intern for PR, Branding and Marketing- not to do menial tasks or anything of the sort- but someone to work alongside me as my business grows and help me learn more about social media, marketing, and event planning, which are strategies I have employed on my own but would certainly like to expand upon. I’m looking to build a team in the New Year, which would include anyone who can help me stay savvy in this fast-changing and competitive industry.

What’s been the most surprising thing that has happened to you so far in your career?

Being recognized as photographer at events and other social functions. I have had instances in this past year where people I have never met have said things along the lines of “Hey aren’t you that photographer!?” I love that because it means I am getting somewhere with what I am trying to accomplish and that people respect me for what I do.

What do you do for fun/relaxation?

I watch The First 48 on AETV, also the People’s Court….I read books on feminism, I edit photographs that I took in the past, hang out with my friends…and I like to self portraits and drink coffee!

Any parting advice for someone who would like to follow in your footsteps?

Set out a solid 5 hours of your day [if not more] to network, email and make phone calls to forward your career. Diligence always garners results.

Also, pay close attention to the people who are there for you in the beginning stages of your career. The people who like your pages on social media, spread the word on what you’re doing, try to help you in anyway…the folks that always make an effort to support your events…etc.,  I find that when it comes to personal business ventures, there are a lot of individuals who may seem reliable/supportive but will drop the ball, become envious or alienate you as you move forward. My advice is to keep a list of all the friends who truly have your best interests at heart, and acknowledge them in any way you can as you continue to strive for success!

What’s the best way for our readers to connect with you (feel free to include the links to your social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Myspace, etc  and websites)?

Websites: Mvhphoto.com and Violavalentine.com


Instagram: ageoftheaquarius

Twitter: @marjaniviola

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