Getting To Know Me

October 23, 2019  •  5 Comments

5d mkiii, Sigma art 50mm lens, couture wedding photographerGetting to know MarilynBehind the scenes at a real wedding, so happy to be doing what I love to do!


Rising Lotus Photography Owner: Marilyn

Taking readers behind the lens just a little further, I wanted to give you a sneak peek into my life, and the journey that brought me here. For every time I pick of a camera I am giving all of me; my clients deserve to know what drives my passion for photography. 


First, I am so very grateful for all the amazing people that have supported, challenged, and loved me. As I share with you some of life's influences that make me a better photographer and some quirky fun facts; I want to be sure to thank all those that were part of my life's story. Thank you.


Since I was little I was always fascinated with photographs. I remember being five years old and sneaking down at six o'clock in the morning at my grandmother's house to see the family albums.  I was captivated by how a photograph could tell a whole story in a single image. Photography has been a part of my life ever since. I believe photography has the power to document life's most amazing memories which is why I'm honored to be a wedding photographer. I write love stories with light.... To be honest, I am obsessed with natural light and the challenge of finding beautiful light for my subjects.

destination wedding photographerMarilyn BrayOwner, Rising Lotus Photography, Marilyn Bray

Behind the scenes with Rising Lotus PhotographyMarilyn Bray owner Rising Lotus PhotographyWedding photographer, Marilyn Bray, owner of Rising Lotus Photography at Safety Harbor Resort


My biggest role model, spiritual teacher, photography enthusiast, and the most cherished person in my life is my Mom. I miss her dearly and feel very close to her every time I pick up a camera. She taught me mindfulness and to embrace the beauty of the moment. Through her artwork she illustrated the concept of impermanence, how the world is constantly changing. I learned to appreciate a moment captured on film, that moment which never existed before and will never exist again.  She would always tell me I could do anything I set my mind to and supported my search for happiness with unconditional love. Her legacy lives on through me.



The first time I rode a horse I was nine years old on a family trip. From that moment I became obsessed with riding and learning more about these beautiful animals. As soon as I got my driver's license, I drove 50 minutes to beg for a job at Maybury Riding Stables. I started off cleaning stalls, grooming horses, and helping around the barn. I eventually worked my way up to Senior trail guide, and trained horses that were new to the barn. The first day on the job I broke my toe when it was stepped on by a draft horse named Angel... seriously one of the best days of my teens, broken toe and all. The experience taught me the importance of being passionate about my work. That in order to do something I loved it would take a tremendous amount of effort, perseverance and determination.

rescue horseMarilyn and rescue horsephoto by Melissa Lyttle


My love for horses continues and I have became very involved with helping to rehabilitate rescue horses. I volunteered to train and provide the needed care for these resilient animals. I wish I could say I was there to help them but honestly I learn so much about survival, compassion and spirituality from the horses. I learned the art of being present for another beings experience. I adopted Skippy, a rescued mare whom suffered a traumatic brain injury, facial paralysis and had a fractured skull. The recovery process involved a multifaceted continuum of care and intense retraining over the course of two years which challenged my empathetic nature and gave me many opportunities for my insight and empathetic awareness to grow. This awareness I use to connect with my clients and channel the emotions of the events I document. 

rescue horse, photographerMarilyn Bray and rescue horse SkippySkippy, a rescued horse


I dedicated eight years right after college to trauma informed care non-profit work, empowering women and supporting healing. I am so grateful for the amazing people I met during that time and truly am honored for to bear witness to the beautiful transformation of healing from trauma that occurs in peoples lives. This work gave me an understanding of human suffering but with it a deep appreciation for love in it's many forms. Also, it gave me the opportunity to heal myself. I had some amazing experiences which profoundly affected my perception of what is important in this lifetime. I learned about the grace of the human heart. Through this work I determined how truly important it is to embrace the joy in our lives and the awe inspiring nature of love. 



I came to the realization to fully document and honor another persons most joyful experiences and sacred life events I had to truly live my life to the fullest. I couldn't hide behind a camera but I had to embrace life fully to understand the magnitude and power of the joyful moments I capture. To be a better artist and photojournalist I had to LIVE. Thus, I searched for experiences that bring "light" to my mind, body and soul. My love for music has pushed me to learn to line dance and country swing dance. Life is a celebration!


Through this journey of finding adventure in the simple moments I fell in love with a man who encourages and supports me to go outside my comfort zone. His zest for life gave me the encouragement to take voice lessons and sing with him (facing one of my biggest fears). But more than anything everyday he gives me a deeper understanding of what it is to truly be loved and to love. Thus providing me a deeper knowledge for the love my clients share and the power of a magnetic connection between two people which I have the honor to capture with my camera. 



1. In addition to Skippy, I also have a cute little rescue dog named Sugar Plum. 

2. I dislike making left hand turns and will make three right hand turns before I have to make a left.

3. I have been skydiving 12 times. 

4. My favorite accessory is cowboy boots.

5.  My wedding and engagement photography has been featured in over 125 publications across the world.

6. I may have a slight obsession with baby goat YouTube videos. Wimpy Goat and Goat What What are two of my favorites.

7. My bucket list to travel is forever increasing; I would love to photograph weddings in Switzerland, Ireland and Australia. For when I am behind my camera I fully experience the magnitude of where I am visiting.

8. I might be known to have popcorn for dinner.

9. When I get excited I spontaneously break into a happy dance.

10. I was born and raised right outside of Detroit, Michigan. Therefore being a hockey fan is basically in my blood.

11. I was a competitive swimmer in grade school and college, traveling throughout the U.S and Canada.

12. I have meditated with Deepak Chopra, listen to Desmond Tutu speak live and swam with sea turtles.


Sugar Plum rescue dogSugar PlumRising Lotus Photography rescue dog

I wanted to give a HUGE shout out to Stephanie Smith, Asha Lea and Rick Lewis my photography mentors and friends. Their guidance and support has helped me to achieve my dreams and explore my passion. I adore these photographers, from the beginning they have been my cheerleaders, always reminding me what is possible. 

Thanks so much for taking the time to learn a little more about me and some of what fuels the passion for my work. Hopefully I get the opportunity to learn about your love story!



Sazzd Khan Rubel(non-registered)
Such an amazing one. Like the post. It is really impressive. Thanks for sharing.
Good to know the Marilyn story. It was really an impressive & inspiring story. Best of luck Marilyn.
Nicolle E Stevens(non-registered)
What an inspiring story Marilyn thank you for sharing your intimate details of what makes you the beautiful, inspiring, charismatic woman you are.. you've helped me in my journey more times than you know
Dustin Baldwin(non-registered)
An amazing story about an amazing person. Marilyn has been my best friend for over a year now. In that time we have grown together and our bond becomes stronger day to day! To say her photography skills are incredible is an understatement. She photographed my engagement recently and just seeing how she gets into her work is truly inspiring. I wouldn't recommend anyone else to do photography. Shes simply put, the best the world has to offer.
Caroline Near(non-registered)
What an amazing story and journey. While your journey has taken off, I wish for you to continue on a magical journey that takes you to all the places you want to go. Congratulations on where you come from where you're at now and where you will be!!!
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