The mother-baby bond is one of the strongest bonds in the world - separated physically but not psychologically. After one of the biggest, if not the biggest, tragedy in our community member Noelle's (NoelleMirabella) life she chose to start with photography as a form of therapy. Noelle now creates emotive and whimsical photos of peaceful children and caring mothers. She strives to capture the innocence and wonder which children view our world, and the emotional unconditional love the mothers have for their children. Read our interview with Noelle and get mesmerized by her harmonious images!

What inspired you to be a photographer?
I always tell people that I never sought out photography; it found me. I lost my daughter, Ava Maria, four-and-a-half years ago. She was stillborn. When Ava died, a part of me died with her. I was completely overcome with the most soul-crushing sorrow. The world became a very dark place. I was working on my master’s in psychology at the time and I had to take a six-month leave of absence. During that time, I signed up for a basic photography course as a means to force myself to get out and search for beauty and light in the world again. Photography quickly became my therapy.

What was your first camera and what do you shoot with today?
My first camera was a Canon 5D Mark II and I am now shooting with the Mark III.

When someone looks at your photos, what do you want them to take away from it, what are you trying to communicate?
Wow, this is a difficult question to answer. I shoot for myself, so it is more about what I want to see in my work. I have this desire to capture my children as only I see them. There is the world at large and then there is this beautiful world that my children alone have created and brought right to me. I want to give them a glimpse of this world. When I photograph little ones that do not belong to me, I strive to capture the innocence and wonder with which they view the world and the joy and beauty they bring into it. When I photograph mothers, I want to portray the unconditional love that defines motherhood and the inherent vulnerabilities that arise from that unconditional love. People will take different things from my work or maybe nothing at all. I think that it is different for everyone.

What is it that you love about photography?
Photography gives me the ability to make beautiful art of moments that would otherwise be relinquished to memory alone, at risk of being forgotten. It is the ultimate voice of self-expression. It is a way of standing up in this ever-changing world and saying, “This is what I see when I look at you".

What has photography done for you?
Photography has given me another type of voice that I can share with all of you. Do you try to be conceptual or do you prefer to show the feeling behind a photo? For the most part, I am all about the feeling.

How do you describe your style?
Emotive, whimsical, and intuitive.

If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
Hmm, it would really depend on what I wanted to photograph. I use different lenses for different types of photography. That being said, I tend to reach for my 70-200 2.8 the most. I love the compression that it allows me to bring into my photographs.

What are your 3 tips for others who want to become better photographers?
1) Find what inspires you.
2) Shoot for yourself, not everyone else. By that I mean, do what you love, not what everyone else is doing.
3) Never stop learning.

Have you received negative feedback from your work? What did you do about it?
Aside from seeking out and receiving much-appreciated constructive criticism from other photographers, I cannot recall ever receiving negative feedback about my work.

Where did you learn to take photos?
Aside from the beginner crash course in photography I took at our local college, I started out as completely self-taught. Eventually I took a couple of workshops with other photographers, and participated in some break-out sessions with Clickin’ Moms. Then I moved to spending every single night watching YouTube tutorials, trying to soak in as many useful techniques as possible. I have experimented a lot with Photoshop and different shooting techniques.

Raw vs jpg and why? Always Raw.
There is so much more one can do with a raw image.

What do you carry in your camera bag?
It depends on what I am shooting. I usually have my 5D Mark III, my 70-200 2.8, 50 1.2, 100 2.8, 135 2.0, 14 2.8, and my 24-70 2.8. I also always have my Chickweed and Clover Summer Spray to help safely ward away bugs from my littlest clients. Sometimes I bring my tripod as well. If you could have the gift of a great photographer who would it be and why? I would love to have documentary style photos done by Steve McCurry. His work is so captivating and honest. His photograph of the Afghan girl remains one of my favorite photographs of all time.

What is the most common mistake you see people making when shooting these days?

I am not sure that one can make mistakes making art, since it is purely subjective. That being said, I see a lot of photographers putting their artistic leanings aside to do what sells.

What is your dream location to shoot?
A mossy, well-lit forest anywhere in the world would suffice as a dream location any day of the week. Truth be told, I do not live in the most beautiful place in the world. I have to search really hard to find pockets of beauty that work well for my style of shooting.

How do you decide on where to shoot a photo?
I always try to choose locations with depth since I like to shoot with longer focal lengths. I love shooting in nature. I am constantly on the lookout for mossy logs and hollow stumps that would accommodate a sleeping baby. When I photograph older babies and children, I like to shoot on long trails with good light and protection from direct light in the form of foliage up above. I try not to shoot in overly dense environments. I prefer locations that allow some light through the background foliage.

What is next for you? Any planned adventures with your camera?

Yes! There are always adventures ahead! I will actually be spending 10 days in the old growth rainforests on the west coast this summer shooting for a big project I have coming up.

What is your goal with your photography?
To make art!

For more great photos by Noelle, visit her profile and Facebook page.