Thursday, June 30, 2016

Meet This Week's Judge: Danielle Stevens!

This week, Danielle of Danielle Stevens Photographer asks you to go 'into the wild'. Summer is the perfect time for an outdoor adventure, but before you go on yours, explore Danielle's photography and inspirations here!

1. Tell us about yourself...
I live in upstate New York with my boyfriend and our son. I studied photography at Pratt institute and dreamed of being a photojournalist. I have photographed my son in that style for years, and decided a year ago to only take on documentary and adventure sessions for families. When I am not behind the camera I like to do printmaking, visit farmers markets, find fun new restaurants and coffee shops, and be outside as much as possible.

2. What ignited your passion for photography, and what fuels it now?
The beginning of my photography journey was kind of slow, I took one class in middle school, one in high school and one in college before I really committed to making it a career. I remember totally falling in love with being in the dark room in 7th grade, being given a rolleiflex by my teacher in 10th grade who saw that I had a love for the art, and seeing it as a therapeutic outlet while I was studying Biology in college. I had always loved traveling, learning about new cultures, and studying life in other areas of the world so I thought it would be smart to study Biology. I also loved soaking in the pages of my parents National Geographic magazines and secretly wishing I could one day work for them and take pictures. It hit me one day that I could pursue that passion and I would be much happier for it! What fuels my passion now is being able to give the gift of documented history of a time in my clients, friends, and families lives. To be able to present people with images that depict them honestly and beautifully is what keeps this passion I have burning strong.

3. What’s in your camera bag right now, what do use the most? the least?

I have a Nikon D800 and 35mm 1.8 lens which hardly ever leaves my camera. I also have my Nikon fm10 film camera and a couple of rolls of film, my lensbaby spark and some batteries and memory cards. I use the D800 and 35mm 1.8 95% of the time, I use my film camera the rest of the time, and since I have been freelensing more I hardly ever play with my lensbaby. 

4. What’s your dream project or shoot?
Seeing as I love travel, learning about new cultures and documenting peoples lives, my dream project would be capturing the lifestyles of children and families around the world.

5. What is the biggest challenge you face as a photographer?
I think my biggest challenge that I am still trying to navigate is trying to find the balance between documenting my life but also being present.  I want my son to feel like I am fully there with him and not only interested in taking his picture. I swear whenever I leave my camera at home it's on days with the most amazing light when we end up somewhere I least expected! My attempt at being present end up backfiring because all I can think about is how amazing the scene in front of me is instead of enjoying it! For that reason I try to remember my camera, but leave it in the car and if I do leave it at home entirely I just tell myself that this is a moment for me to remember in my own mind and learn to be happy with that.

6. If you had $500 to spend on photography...How should you spend it? How do you wish you could spend it? How would you really spend it?
I should spend that money on optimizing my web presence, I wish I could spend it on attending a workshop, I would probably spend it on a new lens.

7. Is there any one thing you wish someone had told you at the very beginning of your photography journey?
I wish I was told the importance of learning business, marketing and graphic design in order to run a successful business. I wish these were requirements during my studies or at the very least have been given the advice by any one of my professors to seek out that knowledge independently.
Additionally I wish I was told to follow my heart from the beginning. I started out shooting anything that came my way and soon felt my love for this career start to fade. I loved my clients, but wasn't crazy about my work. I felt it was one dimensional and didn't speak on any level other than being a pretty picture. Ever since switching over to going fully documentary I am creating work that has depth, shows emotion and human connection, and can honestly say I am proud of.

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