Guest Judge – Erica Montgomery

Our Guest Judge for the month of November is the lovely and talented Erica Montgomery.  Erica is a Finding the Light workshop alumni and former By the Light member, so we are so pleased to welcome her back for this month.   Erica incorporates many different light techniques in such a beautiful way into her photography, which mostly features her three children.  She uses light to create and accentuate mood and emotion, from playfulness to quiet contemplation.  Her images are full of life and energy, and so much soul.   You can follow her work here:  Erica Montgomery Photography

Tell us a little about you and when your photography journey began.

I’m a wife to my best friend, and a mama to three children who I love more than anything. We live in Los Angeles but often dream of selling everything and moving to the country.

For me, photography has been a slow, organic unfolding. As a child I was a competitive gymnast, and although I expressed my creativity through my sport, I was deeply aware that gymnastics didn’t fulfill all I had to say.

When I was 10 years old, I travelled to Europe to compete. Before I left, my mother handed me a camera and taught me how to load the film. I put that baby on auto and documented the entire two-week gymnastics tour. When I got home, my mother had the rolls of film developed; we sat down as family, and went through the many images. That was the exact moment I discovered the power photography. Although it was the first leaving my family, I was still able to share my entire experience with them through pictures and stories. I was hooked.

After I graduated from college, and my gymnastics career came to an end, I found myself lost. Whowas I now? Gymnastics had been my identity since I was five years old. It was all I ever knew. At the same time, I lost my father to cancer, and watched my mother struggle emotionally and financially without him. I yearned to feel whole again. I yearned to find my voice, which seemed to be buried in brokenness and anguish. It took years, my entire twenties to be exact, but after the birth of my first son, I found my way back to the very thing that had been there all along, documenting and photography.

In retrospect, I realize that finding something profoundly important takes time. It’s always there, hidden in the depths, waiting for us to work through the muck and become aware of her.


If you could express your vision into words, what would they be?

Emotive, Nostalgic, Whimsical


Photoshop or Lightroom?


Favorite lens?

Hands down, my 35mm f/1.4 is my go-to lens for lifestyle and documentary. I see the world in 35 mm and it just feels natural. In fact, even when I don’t have a camera, I am composing 35 mm images in my head. I can’t shut if off. I am also a huge fan of portraits, and in that case, it’s either my 50 mm f/1.4 or 85 mm f/1.4.


Favorite type of light to shoot in ?

Outdoor shooting; golden hour backlight is my favorite. I adore the happy accidents that sun flare gift. Indoors; I’m drawn to pockets of light. I love shadows and depth in my images. With that said, I have learned to embrace midday light thanks to Finding the Light Workshop. Life happens at all times and I am so thankful to Detra for giving me the tools to capture life at all times, day or night.



Have you ever found yourself in a creative slump, and if so, what did/do you do to recover?

Of course! Creative slumps are our right of passage as artists. There is no growth without contraction. Over the years, I have learned to not only shoot through my slumps, but to appreciate the lessons they have to share. After every slump, I grow as an artist. Not sometimes. Every time. So, to answer your question, I just keep shooting! Let me tell you, my Lightroom catalog is full of crap that you’ll never see. But for me, those crappy images are equally important to my process


Thank you Erica for sharing your journey and of course your beautiful images with us!

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