Nancy Joyce grew up in photography. Her father opened d’Joyce in 1963 over the Woolworth’s store in downtown Bismarck. “I worked there in high school and when I graduated I was given the opportunity to go to photography school in Santa Barbara, California,” explained Nancy. “At the time I didn’t want to be a photographer, but living in California sounded intriguing!”

She fell in love with photography after just a couple weeks in school and came home to Bismarck after she graduated. Nancy and her brother Mike now run the studio and have built quite a following in the area. They have won numerous Kodak Gallery and Fuji Masterpiece Awards, and been named North Dakota Photographer of the Year eight times.

Depending on the subjects, Nancy may be the artist behind the scenes (working with lighting and props) or the actual photographer. She also does all of the computer work at the studio. “Digital changed things,” she said. “There is a lot more work flow, so I am not doing photography all of the time now.”

Nancy feels going digital and being able to photoshop has been a blessing and a curse. “When you were shooting film, you knew you had to get it,” she said. “Now, a lot of people may say, ‘I can fix it later.’ That is not our philosophy. We want to capture it correctly. We use photoshop mainly to enhance photos, not manipulate them.”

She went on to explain how her schooling makes a difference in her photography: “We still shoot a lot in the studio, because there it’s all about light. In film days, if you didn’t have light, you didn’t have an image. Cameras can do so much now and most people shoot outdoors, because it is forgiving. It’s amazing the photos you can get off your phone! Even after school I took week-long courses just on lighting. The hardest thing to learn in photography is the lighting. Some photographers never see the light.”

Nancy’s tips for photographing children:
Determine the best time of day for them, not close to nap or meal times.
Get down to their level, shoot at eye level and speak to them on their level.
Dress them in clothes that they feel comfortable in.

Megan Milbradt of Every Day Art Photography has been in business for a little over four years, but she has been taking photographs a lot longer. “I just started out as someone who likes photography and am lucky it developed into a business,” she said.

Megan specializes in newborns, children and families. “I love working with kids of all ages and watching families interact,” she said. “I love to hear what clients say when they see their photos.”

All of her shoots are done on location, since she does not have a studio. She considers herself a custom photographer and consults with families on what to wear, the best place(s) to take the shots, even how they should display their finished photos.

If anyone reading this has aspirations about turning their love for photography into a business, Megan has this advice: “Do not rush into anything. Digital photography may seem easy in the beginning, but it’s not just about taking pictures. There is a lot more to the business. It’s more work than you would expect. Take your time and take all the right steps so you are prepared.”

Lyra Lee bought her first SLR (single-lens reflex camera) about four years ago. She took a lot of photos of her three children, then friends started asking her to take pictures for them. She did it for free for awhile, just to learn and get experience. “We moved in 2010 and I set up a website,” she said. “I decided if I was going to have time to do it, I had to charge, because my time was too valuable.”

Lyra’s specialty is families and children, along with maternity and newborns. She feels one of the things that sets her apart from other photographers is her passion for the craft. “I’m not doing it for the money,” she said. “It is nice to make a little money on the side, but really is a way that I can learn more and express my creativity.”

She is totally self-taught and in the beginning would pick one thing about her camera, or an aspect of photography and read as much as she could about it. Then, she would go out and take photos based on what she had learned. As she grows her business, she would like to do more custom photography. “So many times people will buy a CD and just print out 4×6’s,” she said. “I think that is a shame. I would like to help people order their photos, frame them and hang them on their walls.”

Another thing Lyra would like to do is ‘Lifestyle’ photography where she would go into someone’s home, be a part of their day and follow them for two or three hours as mom (or dad)fixes lunch or tucks their kids in for a nap, just showing what goes on at home. “I have seen other photographers do that and I really like it,” she said. “I would also love to go into the hospital to photograph a birth. I am open to a lot of things.”


d’Joyce Photography: / 701.255.0175
Every Day Art Photography: /
Lyra Lee Photography: /