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Life & Work with Marissa McDaniels

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marissa McDaniels. 

Hi Marissa, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Light Rae Exposures began in 2011. I played with different names for a while but this one has stuck and became part of my identity over the years. It is a spin-off the main component in photography “light” mixed with my middle name. All my life I played around with digital art from both sides of the camera of modeling, learning cameras, and angles, photoshop with different editing softwares and styles. It took years for me to take my hobby and turn it into my dream job. It’s always scary to take a leap of faith but once you do, you wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. 

Currently, I am a full-time photographer mainly shooting couples for their engagement sessions, weddings, and elopements. Light Rae Exposures takes on many projects of all kinds from planning and capturing surprise proposals, maternity, family & boudoir sessions, and creative portraits. You will find me planning and preparing branding sessions for companies as well. A new add-on this year that I am pumped about is the collab with Erin from Sunburnt Studios to add videography to my photography packages for the couples looking for the dream digital team. 

This journey has been beyond rewarding with many challenges and learning curves, meeting new people, and making friends from my clients as well as other photographers in Colorado. It brings me so much joy capturing moments and bringing the beauty out in every scenario. Photography has been the perfect outlet for my creativity and being a social butterfly that loves meeting new people and lifting their spirits. Being Light Rae Exposures gives me all the warm fuzzy feelings making this journey in entrepreneurship finding new doors to open as I continue growing myself, knowledge, and my company. 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I always say, “to get to the castle, you got to swim the mote.” When I first started, I thought this was going to be a piece of cake take photos, edit them, travel to new beautiful places. Rinse and repeat. 

I have had many struggles from jumping headfirst into being a full-time photographer from learning all things business while marketing, learning how to market, creating a workflow, accounting, content creating, etc. Being an entrepreneur is wearing many hats and balancing them and at times it can be overwhelming as the to-do list keeps getting longer and the days aren’t long enough. 

A huge struggle is learning all over again to balance work and my home life and to not neglect myself care and try my best to keep a routine. I’m notorious for being a workaholic. I don’t have a chill button and I am learning how to chill so I don’t burn out and can continue to be creative. I learn the most through struggles. I embrace them and learn from them as much as I can in the moment. Currently, I am constantly pondering on adding to another team player to help with my workload. I see this happening in the near future. Stay tuned! 

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
As a photographer I specialize is making people feel confident in front of the camera. This is something I am really proud of from the feedback of everyone I have worked with. Everyone gets pre-session nerves and say they don’t look good on camera or are awkward in front of the camera. After the session, they always say that wasn’t bad at all and was actually fun and they felt good being my models. From my personal experience being a model, I have had amazing photographers and photographers that made me feel lost and confused in front of the camera. I took many mental notes along the way on what worked and what didn’t and brought that experience into my field of work. My number one goal is to make sure everyone feels confident in front of the camera and I do this by communication. Leading up to the session my clients get pre-session tips and tricks. During the session, I am goofy, fun and give directional and action-based prompts. Also, I demonstrate some as well on what I am looking for so they can mimic. I’m very hands-on and the perfect hype lady and will wash all the fears away. I tell my clients no one is weirder than me. I make sure my vibrations are always high and radiating and it is affectious. The start of the session most clients arrive a little tense and by the end of it everyone is loose and feeling sassy and ready to strike a pose and get spicy. 

Photography is a highly saturated industry. What sets me apart from others is home advantage. Being born and raised in Colorado and spent my life outdoors and exploring I know many locations to bring my clients based off their needs and wants out of our time together. This comes in handy for elopements and creative sessions. Also, being a lover for digital art and adapting with it over the years sets me apart as far as knowledge in the photography and modeling industry. Not to mention my personality attracts the clients that would love to work with an empathic, outdoorsy goofball and have a blast exploring and capturing moments in time. 

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
Something surprising, let’s see. If, you have known me for a long time you know that I have always been an animal whisperer. My background with animals is very extensive and all over the place. I grew up having animals follow me home from pets to wild animals. Everyone, even myself thought I was going to be a veterinarian. I did go to school for a while to be a Vet and dropped out for many reasons. I’ve always been crazy about all animals. I can anticipate their needs and what they want from me. I have saved many animals from wounds and sickness when I was younger. I grew up riding horses and training hunting dogs. I’ve always loved a good challenge and chose the animals that were the hardest to train. I am obsessed with horses, don’t even get me started! Currently, manifesting land so I can own horses again and start rescuing again. When I was younger, I rode for Westernairs out in Golden, Colorado. I trained many dogs and two of my proudest moments is rescuing a pitbull named Huckleberry that was going to be put down for “aggression.” I intervened and trained him and he became one of my best dogs I ever owned and the process was so rewarding. He went from a killer of all animals to cuddling kittens and being the ultimate protector. Another huge accomplishment in the dog world is my Doberman, Osiris. Training him was magical and so much fun. He is so well trained that he made it into being a service dog. He is a good worker as well as a big goofball and loves playing basketball and soccer. Can’t forget my cat Sinder who thinks he is a dog and loves going for walks with the dogs as well. Long story short, if you talk animals, I can go on forever. Animals have always been a part of me from my the beginning. I have had all kinds of animals from bunnies, ducks, lambs, etc. All of them were not your typical animal. All my animals I’ve had, had a special sense of humor… the odd balls if you will. Growing up people were blown away watching me walk down the street having ducks, lambs, cats, birds, etc. follow me. I felt like I was living out Dr. Doolittle as a child. 


  • Elopements Start at $875
  • Weddings Start at $2,575
  • Couples & Family Sessions at $325
  • Branding Sessions Start at $425
  • Boudoir Start at $325

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