MEAN Girl of the Month - September - Mary Ann Wamboldt - Kingston, ON Canada


NAME:  Mary Ann Wamboldt

HOMETOWN:  Kingston, ON  Canada

AGE:  39

CAREER:   Computer Tech, Photographer, Digital Artist

HIGHLIGHTS & HOBBIES:  Mother, wife, photo club president, paintballer, passionate photographer

LOVES:  Photography, art, good conversation, family & friends, travelling

DISLIKES:  The self-entitled, bad manners, bullies

MEAN LIFE:  Don't let fear control you, always try new things.  You never know what new adventures lie ahead. 



Art and creativity have always been a part of my life in some way.  When I was in grade school, I excelled in art.  I entered my artwork into competitons and placed fairly well.  I even designed the logo for my school.  I carried a camera with me on almost every school trip, photographing everything in sight. Although I loved art, I never saw it as a career choice, maybe because of the whole "starving artist" thing.  I was shy back then, withdrawn and I had very few friends, especially throughout high school.  Then I became a Mom at 17 years old and art got pushed to the very back corner of my life for a long time.  

I became serious about photography much later in life, and I did so completely by accident.  A few years ago we moved to a new house with a sprawling field behind it.  At the far end of the field was an abandoned barn, lonely and full of potential, or at least that was the way I saw it.  I fell in love with it’s dilapidated state and explored it frequently, camera in hand.  The more pictures I took, the more I wanted to photograph, and the more I wanted to learn. I found a group of friendly like-minded individuals at the local photography club. Through the club I was able to learn and grow as a photographer.  I entered a photo into a club competition from my days of walking through the field and to my surprise I won first place. 

Not long after my photographic journey began, my husband Matt started playing paintball with a good friend of ours.  He came home from every game covered in bruises, grinning from ear to ear.  He would ask me to come with him, but the bruises kind of threw me off.  I wondered how I would fair on the field.  Matt reminded me that we always tried new things together, and for that reason alone I had to try paintball.  So one afternoon we headed to a small paintball field and played a few games of one-on-one.  Matt defiantly won the majority of the games; he was never one for letting me win.  However, I still won a few once I got the hang of things.  A couple hours later we left the field dirty and covered in paint.  It didn't hurt as much as I thought it would and I realized that I love paintball.  I couldn't wait to play again. 

My first game was Fight for Asylum, an annual season opener game played at an abandoned military mental-heath facility in Picton, Ontario.  The season opener game boasts an attendance of about 800 plus players.  I played my heart out that day, only stopping long enough to stock up on paint and to grab a drink.  It was fantastic.  I lost Matt within the first few minutes of the game, not that it mattered.  I made a new friend behind every bunker.  Even though I was new to the sport, I was able to fit in very easily.  Paintball is a sub-culture, with it's own language, mentality and a family-like unity amongst the players, it makes me feel right at home.  Matt’s paintball team, WCP (World Combat Paintball) soon welcomed me as a member and gave me the team name of Phoenix for my red hair.

Photo credit:  Sheldon Carless

Throughout that first day I played, I noticed photographers on the field taking photos of the players.  I remembered Matt telling me that even if I didn't play I should at least consider taking photos of the players.  It seemed strange to me that somehow photography and paintball meshed together.  Was paintball photography really a thing?  Sure enough after the game, players were going crazy looking for the photos from the game and my husband was gloating and giving me his I-told-you-so speech.

I decided to test my photography skills on the field.  To get myself started, I offered my services at a small game.  I referred to myself as MAW Paintball Photography.  MAW being the initials of my name.  I created a logo and a Facebook page to get the word out.  The players really liked my photos from that little game and I realized I definitely wanted to get more involved. 

I contacted the organizer of one the larger events to have my name added to the media rep list.  He mentioned that he would like me to create a media poster to advertise that I was coming to the game.  I admit, I felt a little self-conscious about the idea of making a poster about myself given that no one really knew who I was. 

However, after I photographed the next couple of games that soon changed.

My media posters grabbed the attention of the event organizer and he asked if I would create posters for his upcoming event.  I had being doing a bit of graphic work on the side for various shoe and daycare franchises, but creating paintball event posters would give me the opportunity to unleash my more creative side.  It also meant that I was getting back into creating art on a regular basis, something that I love.

Being on the field with my camera is just as exhilarating as it is playing the game.  I strive to get the best shots possible when I am on the field, which means I am right in with the action.  It's not unusual for me to run in with the players as they do a big push on the field.  I always strive to get the best shots possible, which means I need to be as much a part of the game as they are.  I am passionate about photography, whether I am photographing a paintball game or a wedding.  I am all in, there’s no sense in doing anything half-assed.

Photo credit:  Sheldon Carless

I never thought paintball and photography would have anything to do with each other.  However, both have opened up my world to amazing opportunities. Since I started out on my photographic journey, I have become president of the Kingston Photographic Club, which is truly a great honor.  I have met amazing people, I have started to fullfill my dream of travelling and I have begun growing a small photography business.  Someday I hope to make photography my full-time job. 

So often we say No to life's opportunities, not realizing that saying YES could be the best decision of our lives. Because I said YES to playing paintball, I am now following my dreams as a photographer and as an artist.  We fear failure, rejection or anticipate the worst. Big or small, it is important to follow your dreams.  So often in life we choose the easier, safer path thinking that we need to wait for the right time.  However, life is so very short and fear should never be the reason why you avoid following your dreams.  After all, fortune favors the brave.



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