A Photo a Day

07/30/2022 11:14 AM By Joshua
Car Line
Meagan Gumpert
Meagan Gumpert
Story & Photo by Lisa Anderson

A Photo a Day

Sculptor Picks Up a Camera & Finds a New Identity

Meagan Gumpert, co-owner of Maven Photo and Film, and her husband Ben moved to the Ocala area about 15 years ago. Meagan has a degree in studio art with a concentration in sculpture and ceramics. Moving to Ocala came with a few adjustments for her. “I was living in Asheville, North Carolina, so I was living in a huge arts community. Ocala 15 years ago was a lot different than Ocala is now. There was not a huge support of the arts or arts community back then. We don’t have any family here, so it was a rough transition,” recalls Meagan.

Until about six years ago, Meagan would make and sell ceramic, glass, and sometimes metal work to museum galleries and retail shops up and down the East Coast. “I would make it here and then ship it out. I loved doing it, but I wasn’t doing a whole lot of it locally,” she explains.

Seasons of Life

“Ceramics and glass are a very long process, so it would take three months, six months, sometimes, to make a sculpture. I had small children at the time, and so the clay wasn’t always at the right point where [it] needed to be worked in the one- to two-hour window that I had to be in the studio. So, I was running into some technical challenges with studio time, while raising small kids.”

Meagan felt she needed something creative that could have results almost straightaway. “I just picked up a camera, because [with] digital photography, the reward can be immediate,” states Meagan.

“I was just doing it as a personal outlet to help fulfill that creative space. There was never a plan to move into [it] full time. It [was] just another outlet for me.”

It was a different season in life for Meagan, and while she never thought to pursue photography, it was an enjoyable path to follow. “I think, for me, a lot of the difference is that I was never interested in pursuing more studio photography. I’ve always been drawn to just more documentary. So, even now, as my kids are getting older (9 and 11), they don’t run when I pick up my camera, because I’ve never necessarily asked them to stop what they’re doing to look at me or to do anything different. I really feel like they helped me find a little bit of my vision, at first, because I just liked documenting the stuff that they do because they’re crazy [boys],” smiles Meagan.

It was her decision to experiment with a 365-photo challenge that pushed Meagan to take her photography to the next level. “I kind of made up my own rules. I wasn’t necessarily going to post them or edit them or share them in any way, but my goal was to just pick up my camera every day and take a picture. Fairly simple. I did that for about three years. I feel like that taught me to be able to walk into any store, any situation, any lighting condition, and not be afraid or paralyzed by what was there.”

With her oldest child starting school, Meagan began to feel the need to reinvent herself. After speaking with a friend, she got the push she needed to call herself a photographer and yoga instructor. 

With a bit of bravery mixed with fear, Meagan started publishing her work—eventually being hired by a local magazine, where she met her business partner Dave Miller. “We had similar styles and got along.”

Dave and Meagan photographed their first wedding together at the end of 2019, and a few months later, in early 2020, they founded Maven Photo and Film.

A Traveling Mom

Meagan describes her partnership with Dave as “unconventional and very odd.” “I do have a male business partner. We are not married. He has his own family and his own kids. It happens that our kids get along great. So, his kids will come over to the house and they’ll play, and we can work a little bit in the office. Then, [when] we finish up, [we] join them.

“We’ve traveled together as families. We’ve been on beach trips [and] skiing, and it just kind of works.”

Meagan and David often travel for work, too. “I’ve been traveling since [my kids were] babies. Emotionally, my family is fine when I travel,” states Meagan.

“I have raised my boys to be very independent. They know that Mom goes and does these things, and it’s fine. I’m going to come back, and I’m going to have stories to tell them. It doesn’t mean I don’t still have the mom-guilt for leaving.”

Meagan and Dave recently went to Ukraine, and it created a lot of anxiety for Meagan. “I didn’t know that level of mom-guilt existed. Even though we were told we were going to be safe, we’re still going into a country at war against a global superpower.”

Mom-guilt aside, Meagan knows she has instilled an adventurous spirit in her boys, and she hopes they take a gap year after college to explore the world.
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