Smile, because Mioara Dragan wants to take your picture.
Dragan, a senior at Oakland University, is the founder of Mioara Dragan Photography, which she started in 2009 after she began taking photos of her friends for fun.
“I love taking pictures so much and after a time, so many people would ask me to take pictures of them,” Dragan said. “After a while, I realized I needed to start charging and what I charge depends on the project … There’s a lot of variables so I like to meet with the client beforehand and make sure we both have a clear idea of what they want and what we’ll need to do to get there.”
Stemming from a love of photography, Dragan began taking photos of her friends, experimenting with settings, lighting and style after she got her first camera.
“I started taking pictures of my friends and learning that way. I mean, who doesn’t want good pictures of themselves … I would go home and look at it and see what I did right and see what I did wrong and I would figure out how to do it better next time,” Dragan said.
Dragan decided to open her own business after the demand for her photos became more than she could handle.
“The idea for my business just came from demand … it was really bad at first,” Dragan said. “I didn’t know what to charge or how many images to give. It’s all a learning process and every photographer has their own system, so you just have to figure out what you’re comfortable with. I don’t do it because of the money or to have a business, I just do it because I love it.”
Dragan is an English major and full-time student set to graduate in May. She also works part-time as a restaurant hostess. She does her photography work when it becomes available.
“It’s hard, let me tell you,” Dragan said. “I try and keep my photography to the weekend and I’ll edit throughout the week with classes and stuff. Because I’m in school, I try not to advertise. When I get a job, it’s good. It’s extra income aside from my part-time job. This past summer/fall, I as doing a few shoots a week between client work and personal projects.”
She doesn’t have a studio, so she runs her business mostly through outdoor shoots, using natural lighting and the four walls of her bedroom.
“I feel like people might start to not take me seriously because I don’t have a studio … I feel like a studio could get stuffy. I have a lot more fun outdoors and just finding different locations,” Dragan said.
Dragan uses a Canon 30D DSLR camera, with a 50mm f/1.8 lense to take most pictures, and though she likes her camera and lens, she rents the best equipment she can for wedding days to ensure she can deliver the best quality photographs to her customers.
Dragan doesn’t have any employees working alongside her at Mioara Dragan Photography. Instead, she scouts out locations for shoots on her own and takes and edits the photographs herself.
“When I’m driving, I keep an eye out for locations that would be good for certain shots,” Dragan said. “Clients tell me what they want and I’ll send them ideas. I prefer working with natural lighting more than anything else. I just think it looks nicer than stuido and there’s so many more possibilities when you’re out in nature.”
Upon starting the business, Dragan says the majority of her photographic training came from self-teaching and years of following photographers and reading blogs online.
“I follow a lot of other photographers who have ‘made it’ or are really followed. I like to follow photographers around my age because I want to see what my generation is doing and what is working for them,” Dragan said.
Dragan’s business is funded mostly through family portraiture, occasional model portfolios, actor head shots and wedding jobs.
In addition to her clientele, Dragan also works on a series of personal projects throughout the year. Her latest project was titled “Heartbreakers,” which took Dragan into Detroit for shooting.
“It’s kind of a feminist project … you always see advertisements of women and a lot of them are anti-feminist and I cannot believe that a model would pose for that. I got inspired one day to do completely opposite, where a girl is just being awful to a guy,” Dragan said. “That was quite an adventure.”
After her graduation in the spring, Dragan hopes to move to a large city where she will be able to work under a major fashion photographer.
“I didn’t major in photography, so I hope that I can use that to my advantage and maybe do paperwork under a photographer. Anything just to be around it,” Dragan said.
Examples of Dragan’s work can be found on her website www.mioradragan.com