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my favorite shot of south africa

“What is your favorite interactive component of your favorite TV Show?”, he asked. Probably the seamlessness between the bend in my elbow and the first drops of my favorite Shiner beer on my lips as I watch that favorite show, I thought. This isn’t what I said. He might have severed the connection we had between us right then and there. I was on a video call from Houston to New York. Thank you technology.

The job sounded awesome. You control the gamut of tricks and gimmicks to get people to interact with the show’s concept digitally, virtual tours, or games to unlock a secret episode and such. You push the connectivity of social media conversations, work to get hashtags related to the show you manage to “trend”, and a whole slew of other market moving agendas. A digital producer for MTV. What more could you want?

What he was asking though came with an assumption; the assumption that I watched TV regularly enough to notice trends or market niches; the same way I notice trends in a properly SEO’d blog, or the trends I notice in photography’s post-process treatments but I don’t.

Fuck man. A childhood of mom saying TV would fry my braincells, to go outside and play and there I was, getting the stink-eye because I didn’t watch TV. It gets worse, and I’ll spare you the suspense. I didn’t get the job, and I’m glad. I’m the friend in the group that chuckles at what I think is a witty comment. Someone else in the group tops that with a phrase that makes us all laugh and then it happens. Someone inevitably turns to me and says “Have you seen that movie?” Got damnit. Not again. No, I just thought it was a funny comment. But when someone asks “Where are we going out tonight?” or “Where could I go for wi-fi and a cool atmosphere?”, “Do you have any good new music?” I’m the first person on the horn figuring out the best place to make their request happen, the best way that it could. Lately though, my supportive boyfriend, Drew has been showing me the cool new places that I never knew existed. I’m such a lucky lady and I have a passion for learning new things, for enriching people’s lives through positive experiences, experiences where they get out of their element. And I want them to have a documented story to remember it by. I only know this passion because I’ve been forced out of my element enough to realize the beauty of it. Finding your way through another country alone because you have no choice is now something that excites me. Spending the night in the mountains of Africa with nothing but a box of wine (and I do mean box) that we kept cold in the river is something that reminds me I’m human, body and bones in my purest form of being. And experiences are the only thing we have to create perspectives, loves, hates and the loot.

I would have not been living a life that I wanted to live up there and they would not have had the best person for the job with me in the chair. I like to articulate by my own hand the aesthetics, the cinematics, and the stories of journeys. I’d rather lookup keywords, write about experiences, design brands, take photos, then turn them into websites that become someone’s livelihood.  That’s what moves me and if anything, this interview with MTV reminded me of just that. I know someone is going to kickass at the job and I’m just glad I got to experience it.




It finally happened. From my introduction into the business world, I always felt I had something to say or contribute, something to explain. Later I’d realize that what I was gunning for was an opportunity to prove my intelligence, to be known as knowledgeable in the room. All for what?  In corporate conferences over the years, I’d find myself watching the subtleties of speakers on stage as they applied the gamut of gimmicks to captivate the audience at hand. I’d watch how what they had to say would compel people to stand at the end of the stage after the session, waiting for those few seconds of interaction. Then I’d watch as other people in the same audience would slip out the back only to beat the line for a quick coffee. Some speakers cared more and others cared less about the impact they had, but the common ground is that they all seemed to possess this higher level of knowledge than the people listening on and it was intoxicating to me. How foolish. Maybe it wasn’t that. Maybe, somewhere deep in my mind, I want to be a performer. You know, how cool would it be to drop down into a breakdance any time I felt nervous and then pop up into some unsightly version of a cheerleader high kick because I’m just not that flexible. Shouting hoo-rahs about how the world goes around when I have no idea. I’d rather just tell my story and that’s just what Chris was asking me to do.

Chris Garcia, the Creative Director for the Houston Astros, a crazy talented fellow designer and friend asked if I would be available to photograph, film, and speak at a conference he had put together to bring all designers from Major League Baseball together, MLC Connect. He went on to explain that he wanted me to detail my passions and tactics on collaboration. After all, I had just gotten back from Africa where I had been commissioned to photograph a diving school all based on a simple connection with a fellow traveler that I had met some time before while backpacking through France.

Chris outlined that I’d be speaking in tandem with another mind-blowing creative, Ismael Burciaga, founder of his own conference, Circles, explaining that it would bring clarity to the idea of collaboration in action. I had met Ismael through a distant design colleague who connected us over Twitter when he saw that we were both creating these funky fresh graphics called Cinemagraphs. When I learned more of Ismael’s conference, I immediately called Chris and told him that he had to check it out. As talent would have it, these guys hit it off and started collaborating on ideas all their own.

Then there I was, on stage, facing the crowd instead of being a face in it. The audience had to listen to me. They could choose to take notes or simply illuminate me out with electronics that were hard at work pulling data into a weak service area but regardless, I was up there. Leading up to the day, anyone I talked with about the event would ask if I would be nervous to speak. I’d always laugh and tell them that I equated it to something before a college basketball game (yeah, lame women’s basketball). I would go on to explain what can’t be told second-hand about how you spend all this time preparing for something without anxiety until moments before the game. Then in those seconds just before go-time, all hell would break loose inside.

That moment came there on stage, as I gathered my voice. The familiar butterflies began to whirl and that’s when the unexpected exploded; Irony. It was irony man. After all this time of feeling that I had so much to tell the world, I felt speechless and humbled instead. Standing abreast a room full of creative directors and graphic designers from all around the nation, what could I possibly have to say to them that they didn’t already know themselves? These weren’t new kids on the block (although Step by Step goes hard!). They were the beautiful minds behind some of  the nation’s most home-grown brands. Each person in the room had been hand-picked to represent the aesthetics of their city’s Major League Baseball team, a feat not for the faint of heart. Realizing the lateral nature of anything I had to say, I talked in terms of what works for me and recognized that what I did compared to what they do could be night and day different even if we were all opening the same Adobe product line to glide pixels across a canvas (Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign and others). I quickly found myself searching for the knowledge that the room had as a whole, rather than pretending to be hot shit. I wanted to know what they thought, how they worked. I found myself wondering what their work environments were like, and what kind of music they listened to. Did they IV themselves into heavy bass headphones and rock 80′s music into the early hours of the night? How did they handle when a client or boss gave a negative response to their work? Anyone in that room could have been the speaker. And I was just lucky that it was me.

It was surreal to talk collaboratively instead of in a usual pecking order sort of way that corporate conferences seem to do. We all know different things and can do them just a little bit more effectively and I was glad that was my first experience as a speaker was in front of a room full of people all better at something than me, in some way or another. Ross from the LA Dodgers and Mike from the New York Mets had my full attention as I watched their major league stories unravel. These guys have seen a lifetime of culture become history and I had nothing but mad respect for them. Ben Jenkins, another speaker who runs many of his own businesses had me so wired to be better at my whole fucking life because this dude does it burning rubber in an Airstream just knocking shit out. I met Charlie, from Focus Labs and his beautiful wife, Kelly. I observed how Charlie was managing his business and personal life by meshing them together to bring Kelly to the conference (I have a real kind of girl crush on how cool this chick is). I felt this warm sense of excitement and hope for my own relationship because I’m lucky enough to have a kickass guy, Drew, who is just down for anything, can talk with anyone, and loves me for me. This conference opened my eyes to what the next 5 years of my life could look like. My passion for collaboration exploded even more after this conference and I realize in every day how it is the single-most important contributing factor to any business success I’ll ever have. People are so badass. I can’t thank Chris enough for having me and hope you enjoy the moments I captured through both photography and film.

MLC Connect :: 2014 from maigen sawyer on Vimeo.

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Last weekend I headed off to Austin to shoot an engagement session with Brandi and Adam. Brandi had awesome plans for shoot locations, and I love the outdoors, so we ended out on paddle boards and kayaks in the middle of the city. With the super sonic styling tips from Ashley and my personal kayak tour guide who is very much my better half, Drew, I was able to get a ton of shots that were out of the norm. How he put up with my Type A personality while shooting is beyond me. Geezus, saying that I’m lucky to have him is an understatement.

I met Brandi somewhere about a year ago, and still find myself in awe of how beautiful she is, inside and out. Her smile is the contagious kind, and her happy soul puts everyone around her at ease. I’m grateful to be photographing this couple’s wedding next year and I cannot wait to document such an important day in their lives. Cheers to you both!

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Love this background in Uptown, Houston!

Color was not missing from the spots we found around Houston, nor was it missing in the personalities of these two on their engagement shoot. My time spent with Morgan and Coby was effortless and refreshing as their energy kept us optimistic through the heat and our raging “hanger” (hunger and anger) near the end of the shoot. I’m beyond excited to be photographing their wedding in just a few short weeks with all the fun things they have planned. I’ve known this couple for a few years now, and have always adored how much they care for each other. That can’t be faked in photos and I’m honored they have asked me to photograph one of the biggest days of their lives together. I’m looking forward to writing more about this shoot but have to run down the road now to Deer Park for a new sports graphic design project. I also just recently launched a website that made its way to Wall Street Journal!

sonnier-engagement Montrose in Houston has beautiful backgrounds sonnier-on-westheimer sonnier-triangles sonnier-green-wall sonnier-engagement-yellow-wall Sonnier Engagement on Westheimer Sonnier Engagement on Westheimer sonnier-montrose



sonnier sonnier-coby Biscuit Wall! sonnier-morgan



So the real reason I was in Africa was to get these shots of this amazing diving school there just outside of Cape Town, South Africa. I decided I wanted to run the shoot in HDR and loved the shots I got! I will write so much more but hope you enjoy this!air-tank-jacks-chest-dive jacks-chest-dive jacks-dive instructing-jacks-dive-chest chamber-jacks-dive scuba-divers jacks-chest-dive-scuba scuba-diving-jacks-chest-dive oxygen-tanks-jacks-dive-chest rufus-coke the-group