Mandee Rae

Who are you?

My name is Mandee Rae! I am 22 years old and I am a portrait photographer, born and raised in Seattle, WA.

How did you get into photography?

It started in middle school when I got a canon powershot (a little point and shoot). I really loved how the images came out on the camera, and I just kept taking photos with it. I started uploading those photos to Flickr – and I became really inspired by the Flickr community. Flickr was huge back then and there were insanely talented individuals on it.

I began by taking self-portraits and shooting with my best friend. My best friend was also on Flickr, and we would go out adventuring together with our cameras. My passion just continued to grow, and I started to prefer taking photos of other people and began working with models. When I graduated high school I decided I wasn’t going to college, and I was going to pursue photography. Not going to college, and pursing photography was the best decision I’ve ever made.

What was your dream job as a child?

I didn’t have a particular dream job, but I always told myself I never wanted a job where I had to sit in an office all day, five days a week. Like both my parents had. Whenever we went on field trips in school, I always remembered thinking – I want a job where I can go on field trips every day. I had no idea at that time in my life that I would become a photographer.

What means photography to you?

Photography is my life – as cliché as that is. Photography was my emotional outlet when I was in middle school and high school. I dealt with a lot of depression during those years. My best friend committed suicide when we were 13, and that put me in a very dark place. I truly believe that photography saved me. It gave me something to direct my hurt, and anger towards in a positive way. My work on Flickr was pretty dark in the beginning.

Every day I think about how lucky I am to have found my passion at such a young age, and to have pursued it into a career. I am only 22 years old, and I am positive that I have found what I will be doing the rest of my life.

What is your favorite type of photography?

This is such a difficult question for me! I love two very different types of photography. I am constantly inspired by fashion editorial work, but I also love lifestyle, candid film work. I love to feel things from photos.

How would you define your style?

Hmm… I would probably just define it as natural and candid. I love how natural movement is, and I love the capture that in images. I love working with the light I am surrounded by (natural outside lighting to musty dark motel room lighting).

You go to a shooting on location. What do you take with you?

I use my Herschel Supply Co. bag to stuff everything in and I load it up with my Canon 5D Mark || my 85mm & 35mm. I would also take along my Fujifilm Instax Mini and some extra film. I would most likely grab a few extra props, and clothing just in case. I almost always grab extra styling for shoots in case I don’t like how the clothing is photographing.

Why you shoot people and not things or nature?

Human beings are beautiful and fascinating. I love shooting people; every person has such a different personality and appearance. I love to capture emotion and make other people feel things through something in a photograph. I feel like someone’s expression in a photo conveys a lot more emotional than landscape photography does.

What's your secret recipe for great portraits?

Lighting! Always. Like I said – I love to work with all types of light. Daylight and nightlight are so different and create completely different atmospheres.

Who do you photograph most?

Almost all of my good friends are models, so I work with a select number of them continuously. Otherwise, I am constantly using Instagram to find new faces to shoot.

Who is the most challenging person you've tried to photograph?

I won’t name any person specifically, but if I don’t “click” with a model – you can tell. I have to be comfortable around the model to stay inspired. If I feel uncomfortable, I feel like I tense up and lose the inspiration to shoot. I want my shoots to feel fun, and natural – so for that to work, I think both the model and photograph have to be having fun and have it feel natural.


This interview was originally published on


Mandee Rae

Mandee Rae is a Photographer from the USA.