When Amy Woodford Honmyhr and Allyssa Woodford Hughes look through their camera lens, they look for more than flattering angles and forgiving light. As the team behind Woodford Sisters Photography, the portrait photographers look to capture authentic moments. It could be a portrait of a newborn, a teenager or a senior. When the sisters hear feedback like “That’s her smile,” or “That’s how I see her,” they consider it a job well done.
The Woodford sisters grew up in Mahtomedi, in a household of five children, with parents who encouraged creativity and freedom to play. They remember spending time outdoors, using their imaginations while playing in the forest and by the creek. “That good old Mahtomedi upbringing contributed to the desire we had to have creative careers,” Hughes says.
Started in 2014, Woodford Sisters Photography fulfills that creative desire. Each sister arrived at photography independently and from different paths. Working as a model for 12 years in New York, Honmyhr transitioned to the other side of the lens naturally. Even while modeling, she would snap photos of her friends in between shoots. Hughes came from the nonprofit sector, where she worked on program management on youth development.
With their full-service portraiture, the sisters may shoot from inside their Minneapolis-based studio, utilizing its spacious exposed-brick walls, hardwood floors and 10-foot windows. Or the duo may venture outdoors to spots around town—mostly Mahtomedi, White Bear Lake or Stillwater—to find backgrounds that are unexpected and beautiful.
As photographers on a shoot, they encounter a lot of factors to be dealt with. Photographers need to work the camera, visually styling the shoot while making clients feel comfortable. Everything happens simultaneously, which can be challenging. This is why the sisters work as a team at every single shoot.
Having a second pair of eyes is especially helpful because each sees things differently. For example, with her discerning eye trained through modeling, Honmyhr may pick up on a tiny detail that needs attention in the frame. On the other hand, Hughes sees the big picture; she is especially good at setting up the photo, finding the position and the depth in the shot. “If only one of us were there, I feel like it would be half as good,” Hughes says.
Through working together, they discovered their sisterly dynamic also charms people, allowing them to relax. “That’s a wonderful surprise—our chemistry gets people laughing,” Hughes says.
The sisters’ portraits mark a point in time. They are candid shots, capturing more than just surface appearance. “When you look at a picture, you can almost feel how they feel,” Honmyhr says of their portraiture philosophy. “We want to capture those real moments in people.”
And those “real moments” have meaning. “In the moment, people’s portraits are emotionally really loud. In a year, it stops you in a different way,” Hughes notes. “It brings out more than just joy and beauty, it brings out a small tinge of nostalgia.”
(A stunning portait by Woodford Sisters Photography.)