Most Asked Personal Questions

Q: How Did I Get Started in Photography?

A:  I’ve always been a creative and sensitive human.  But, I didn’t really get into photography until I was 9 months pregnant with my youngest son.  I knew he would be my last child, and I  had a very strong desire to capture all of the little moments that I could.  I didn’t have much money- if any.  It was Christmas time.  So, buying a camera was not something that should have been high on the list of needs.  But there I was, walking around Walmart with a camera box in my hand.  Nothing fancy, but it was a Canon camera.  I was just walking around with it, trying to decide if I should purchase it or not.  And, I did.  Soon after, my son was born and I started sharing the photos I was taking of him and my family on Facebook.  From there, friends and family started asking me to take pictures of their kids. And that is how my business started.

steph shanks photography headshot

Q: Tell Us About Your Family?!

A:  I love to tell people I have 7 children and see their reactions.  And yes, I do have seven children.  I have three of my own, and four stepchildren that I love calling my bonus children.   Now, they live all over the country- but for a few years- we had them all living under one roof.  I started my family very young, at 16 in fact.  Now, my youngest is 14. So I am loving the freedom that I never was able to have when I was younger.

Q: Wow, you became a mom at 16?

A: Yes, yes I did! I had my twin boys (Drew and Justyn) when I was 16 years old.  They were 3 months early and spent the first months of their lives in the NICU at St. Mary’s Hospital.  Because of their prematurity, they had special needs.  In order to be their mom and bring them home, I had to grow up real fast.  I graduated high school early and started college.  All the while, we were dealing with understanding the complications that sometimes go with premature births.  It was discovered that one of my sons had some motor coordination issues, but to what extent- we did not know.  So, we started physical and occupation therapy for him.  My mom also began exploring alternative therapies for him.  From herbal remedies, acupressure, reiki, and massage therapy- she was into all of it.  That was when I decided to become a massage therapist.  That career was super beneficial to my life, and I am so grateful for that early start.

Q: Why is your son in a wheelchair?

A:  My son has cerebral palsy.  It is due to a lack of oxygen to the brain, most likely at birth.  While it can happen to any child, the risk increases dramatically in premature births.  While most of his body does not work well, he is incredibly intelligent, kind, and funny.  The universe truly does provide for us everything we need. On a side note:  He is looking for a new career and would be an excellent content creator, so if you know of anyone looking- send them our way!

Q: How did you meet your husband?

This is one of my favorite stories to tell.  I actually had a dream that I was going to meet the person I was supposed to fall in love with.  In the dream, a voice told me that I would be meeting this person in the ‘next two days.’ It was very specific.  Looking back, I believe that it was so specific because I wasn’t looking for a relationship, and the universe was like “No girl, you have to do this.”    Anyways,  I asked the dream how would I know who this person was?  The dream answered, “watch for the whale.”  The next day, I was giving a massage to an old woman, and it looked like she had a tattoo of a whale on her back. It was faded, and it was dark in the room- so I was leaning way down trying to look at her back.  Thankfully, I learned it was a dolphin tattoo.  SO, that night- I took my kids to the library.  I was standing in line waiting to check out my book, and a guy came up and stood behind me.  He started to talk to me, but I wasn’t interested and slightly distracted with my son.  I knew he was.  I had a few friends that had told me about this guy that I had to meet- but again, I wasn’t interested so whatever.  After that encounter, I went home and looked him up on Facebook.  And there he was, his profile picture was of him- standing next to a picture of what I thought was a  whale. Now looking at it, it might not be a whale. But it was enough for me to find out where he was going to be that next night I was free and go formally introduce myself to him.  And, that is how we met.

Q: Do you have any future plans?

A:  Of course! My big hairy audacious goal is to live in Santa Barbara, California for part of the year.  I would love to be able to have my portrait business there, as well as, in Wisconsin!  I am also working on setting up an online shop to sell my landscape art. Once it is up and rolling, I will be employing my son to help run the shop! I would like to continue to inspire and help women through hikes, nature, and whatever else comes to mind! I will never stop having big crazy goals because I know that I can do anything I put my mind to.  And, so can you!

group of ladies power hikes

Tips for Better Holiday Photos