Several years ago, after years of taking pictures of anything that was in front of her, Sarah Flannery took the summer off from her career as a management consultant and attended the Rocky Mountain School of Photography’s Summer Intensive course.

“I wasn’t sure at the time what I wanted out of my photography or even on what types of photography I wanted to concentrate,” she said. “So, I headed off for 13 weeks in beautiful Missoula, Mont. with an open mind.”

Flannery recalls how liberated she felt after stepping away from her 20-plus year desk job.

“I discovered a love for studio photography and lighting,” she said. “These days, I don’t stray too far without a flash or two in tow.”

Presently, Flannery’s photography is focused on editorial and commercial work, such as images for use by magazines or businesses; advertisements; websites; product catalogs; annual reports; and headshots.

“I’m a visual learner; I like to see how a product is used or the environment in which a person works. That often translates into my photography. Whether it’s portraiture or products, I prefer to shoot in context,” said Flannery. “I want my images to tell the viewer more about the subject and give a sense of scale that you don’t get when something is photographed on a plain white backdrop. But often, what is right for the product is to make it the hero – the subject alone with some creative lighting that makes the image say, ‘Look at me.’”

According to Flannery, the most important thing that has translated from her consulting business to her photography is listening to her clients.

“I focus on what the client says they are trying to achieve and how the images will be used to ensure what I create conveys the right message,” she said.

Recently Flannery did portraits for a Mary Kay consultant to use in her marketing. Mary Kay’s tag line for their consultants is “I can.” Flannery worked together with her client to ensure that the portraits she created depicted “I can” in the pose, mood and lighting.

In order to keep her photography fresh and to try some new things, she shoots personal projects and blogs about them. One such project focused on people who work with their hands.

“I met some incredible people creating some amazing products and art. I’ve photographed potters, soap makers, woodworkers and many others,” she said. “Recently, I’ve started to focus on craft producers of beer, wine and spirits. I’ve heard some great stories from these folks on how they’ve gotten started and are growing their businesses. They’ve been very inspiring.”

In addition to her personal projects, Flannery is always looking for models or products for test shoots. This work helps Flannery keep her portfolio fresh and gives those who help her some images for their use.

“My next goal is to shoot more food and beverage images. I can cook and mix drinks, but they never look pretty enough to photograph,” she said. “To that end, I’ve been looking for a chef, food stylist or even a bartender with whom I could collaborate. Ultimately, I think it would be fun to work with a chef on a cookbook.”

To learn more about Flannery and see her work, including her personal projects, visit To speak with Flannery about commercial opportunities or collaborations, email her at

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