Sara Montour Lewis is a Minneapolis-based photographer who donates her time and talent to Prepare + Prosper’s Give to the Max Day campaign, Give to Geeks. She takes portraits of people getting their inner geek on for the calendar we give away to donors at $100+. Sara has an uncanny ability to make people feel comfortable in front of the camera and capture them in their truest moments, and in our case with the passions that light them up the most. As we come upon Give to the Max Day on November 16, we asked Sara to turn the proverbial lens around to capture her passion for photography and this project.

Why did you become a photographer?

Growing up I was always around really amazing photography and my parents were always taking pictures, but I never thought of it as something I would do professionally until I moved to London on a whim after my second year of college and bought a camera right before I left so I could document my adventures. I spent a lot of the days walking around and trying to get everything I could out of this little point + shoot digital camera. When I moved back to Minnesota, I finished my degree but had definitely shifted focus towards photography and jumped all-in from there.

You do an incredible job of bringing people out of their shell and capturing their personality. How do you do that?

Well, thank you! I think there are a couple components to this. I’m a total empath and am hyper aware of people’s emotions, so when I sense that people are uncomfortable I instantly try to do everything I can to make them feel confident and comfortable again. I also know that having a camera shoved in your face is not the most naturally easy thing, so I try to be compassionate about the fact that they just walked into a really awkward situation that they’re not used to.

That ability makes you the perfect fit for our photo series that captures people’s inner geek. What’s your favorite part about doing this shoot?

These shoots are one of the highlights of my year because everyone involved is so excited about it and we all get to work together to create one super fun photograph that highlights people’s favorite things. It’s super fascinating to learn a lot about everyone’s hobbies and favorite things and the people involved also just light up when they’re talking about it, so it makes for a super fun couple of days.

What’s surprised you the most in the years we’ve been doing this?

I think what’s endlessly fascinating every year are all of the new things that people bring to us! We always throw around the idea of doing something slightly different, but then we start talking to people and the thing they geek out on is something we’ve never even thought of before.

Which of our models stick out in your mind? Who’s been memorable?

Oh, man. SO. MANY. The first year it was really funny to me that Mayor Betsy Hodges kept bringing boxes and boxes of Wonder Woman goods from every corner of the mayor’s office. The photo of the hilarious guinea pig always cracks me up and the sun came through the window at the exact right moment for our Sherlock Holmes shoot. I spend a lot of time photographing kids, so the lawn bowling champs is a favorite, too. This year, photographically, I think we created some of my very favorite images, too, and I can’t wait to see the final calendar.

Why do you donate your time to Prepare + Prosper?

As a small business owner I know how overwhelming tax prep can be and think that the services Prepare + Prosper offers are so important to our community. I’m always happy to help whenever I can.

What do you geek out over?

The things I geek out on the most are probably live music, kayaking, disc golf, spontaneous road trips, and our crazy Newfoundland, Wyatt.