Danielle has become a dear friend over the years. I can't remember when or how we first met, but I recall the first photoshoot that I did with her for a magazine entry back in 2016. The theme was "the blues" and she was the first photographer I thought of to help us capture the evocative, playful, and honest mood for the shoot. She's the first photographer that I've ever felt comfortable to just be myself with, and I am still in awe of how she has been able to consistently do this for her clients. She's naturally at ease with herself and her creative vision that it's near impossible not to be pulled into that energy when working with her. I've hired her for nearly every photoshoot I've done for Picot and she's helped with the launch of everything, including limited products like the teas and Community Cookbooks to all our of regularly stocked products. I highly recommend her for everyone, but specifically, anyone who is looking to have fun while doing something they usually don't enjoy (having their photo taken) and be amazed at how she can illuminate you. She just might help you to see yourself more clearly. She's blossomed into an incredible lifestyle + wedding photographer and I have endless appreciation, respect, and admiration for her and how she's pursued her passions. I've linked her contact info at the end of the blog because I know you want it.
Fun fact: While Dee was over at my house shooting the tea blends a couple of years ago, she told me that she adopted a dog from a rescue agency out of China. A few months afterwards, I did the same thing and found Roger! We got the two of them together and sent a photo to the rescue agency, who confirmed: Roger and Jude knew each other from one of the fosters!
Tell me about your photography business and what projects/products/ services are you most excited about working on right now.I would describe my photography as timeless, cinematic & emotive. I’m lucky to have two main areas within my business which are predominantly seasonal. In the warmer months I focus my energy on elopements & intimate weddings. Over the winter I do more studio work, helping local businesses & entrepreneurs with content creation & business branding.
With summer around the corner I’m taking some time to nurture my creativity with some creative projects in the studio before things ramp up. I’m also focusing on growing the business and getting really clear on my goals and the types of clients I want to attract. It’s very exciting!
Do you find that there is a common problem that you help people overcome through your work?
Over the years of shooting I’ve realized my superpower is getting people to feel comfortable in front of the camera. Having your photo taken is such a vulnerable experience and I always keep that in mind going into a shoot. I am confident in my ability to put people at ease by being calm, easy-going and providing gentle direction. With a bit of time the anxious energy settles and people feel safe enough to relax into their authenticity - this is where the magic happens!
Is photography something that you've always dreamed of creating or is there a good story about how you came to be doing this?
When I look back on my life now, I realized I have always had a camera in my hand. Documenting experiences with my friends and family has always been paramount in my life since high school (...this was before smartphones). But this was not my career path for much of my life, I originally went to the University of Victoria and received my BSc in Linguistics, with full intention of going to grad school for Speech-Language Pathology. I was raised to pursue a job of security, and not necessarily one of passion. I enjoyed my studies immensely but I wouldn’t say that I was passionate.
Interestingly enough, my parents gifted me with my first Nikon DLSR when I graduated from University about 7 or 8 years ago, and that’s where my love for this art truly blossomed. My camera became an extension of me from that point on.
What lights you up about running your business? What drains you? How do you deal with balancing or managing each?
I’ve had the supreme honour of documenting really profound moments in people’s lives - weddings, maternity sessions, families, engagements - and while these might sound like just regular events that happen all the time, to the people I’m photographing they happen once in a lifetime. We are constructing a visual legacy. The images we create are the ones that will be looked back on by friends and family for generations to come. There is so much weight & meaning in that, and I feel so lucky to be the one to showcase those moments.
Also, I’m convinced there’s no greater feeling than making someone else feel beautiful & truly seen. There is so much empowerment in this art form!
The most draining aspect is the time I spend behind a computer screen. I spend about 15%-20% of the time taking photographs, and the rest is all office and administrative work! To mitigate this, I’m learning to hire outside help and outsource certain areas of my business! Initially it felt hard to relinquish control but the weight that has been lifted from my shoulders feels immeasurable.
Do you have any insights gleaned from running your business that you think are often left out of the limelight?
Creating art and running a business are two very different things that both require a different set of skills. I’m always pushing myself to nurture and grow within each area.
There is also a lot of time in solitude when running a business, I only see people during shoots (aside from time outside of work with friends/fam). Luckily I’m introverted by nature, and pretty content to stay at home listening to tunes and crushing the workload, but it can feel lonely at times. I often go several days in a row without seeing anyone. Luckily Jude (my dog) makes sure I get a few walking breaks scattered throughout the day which helps a lot!
Tell me about a time when you had to make a big change or pivot in your life. How did you know that it was time to shift? What tools supported you?
I spent a year traveling the world with an ex in 2015, and he was the one who pushed me to explore photography as a career. He could see how deeply I loved taking photos and urged me of the importance of pursuing one’s passions. I realized I never wanted to look back on my life with any regret of not pursuing something to my fullest capacity. I never wanted to wonder ‘what if’... so at that moment I pivoted from my path rooted in academics, and took a deep dive into entrepreneurship. My business was slow to grow in the beginning, but has really amped up over the last 3-4 years!
Something that I have been personally working on for years now is learning how to discern the difference between knowing when it's fear or intuition that’s leading me. Can you relate, or tell me about how you define this for yourself?
Oof, this one hits home! What I’m really working on right now is shifting from a scarcity mindset into an abundant mindset. I am trying to move away from the fear of being unsuccessful, or not making enough money, or not booking enough clients, and instead leaning into the trust. I have no control over who is going to book me at what point, and I don’t always know I’m going to have consistent work 2-3 months down the road! All I have control of are my own actions. I know if I am working hard each day within clear sight of my goals the universe will provide me with abundance in equal measure. Intuition plays a part in deciding what I should focus on & prioritize, connecting to what feels right to be working towards right now. To get in touch with my intuition I find journaling & meditation to be really helpful, taking the time to connect with myself.
What challenges have you overcome that lead you to a deeper understanding or a shift in perspective for you over the last year/ through the pandemic?
The pandemic was wild! If I’m being honest, the first couple months during lockdown I was feeling energetically burnt out and didn’t pick up my camera once - I felt disconnected from my art, and my business was hinging on so much uncertainty. I think this was honestly due to a busy 2019, with not many boundaries set up in terms of self-care throughout that year, coupled with the weight & anxiety of being in the midst of a global pandemic.
Happy to report that as soon as restrictions were lifted and life started to normalize again, I got my mojo back! Last summer was one of the busiest yet! I felt so much gratitude towards my clients and community who supported me through such a strange and uncertain year. I also had a lot more time to reflect on how I want to run my business moving forward.
What would your advice be to budding creative entrepreneurs?
Invest in education and know that if you’re willing to put the things you learn into practice you will see a return on investment!
What are you most proud of?
I still have to pinch myself sometimes that I get to wake up and do a job I truly love doing every day. I feel so grateful for the opportunity to chase my dreams!
What would you tell your younger self?
Don’t be afraid to pursue your passions! Truly anything is possible if you’re willing to put in the work to get there. I wonder where my business would be if I understood this at an earlier age.
When we are allowed to travel again, where is the first place that you want to explore and why?
Such a hard one!!! New Zealand has been calling me back pretty hard recently. I’ve been twice before but god I love it.
Tell me 5 random things about you that may not be well known
I’ve travelled to over 20 countries, and I usually peace out for part of our Canadian winter a couple of months out of the year. I miss it. I have a dream of living part of the year in a warmer climate (New Zealand or Mexico) and part of the year in Canada!
2- A dear friend taught me chess during lockdown 2020 and I’m officially hooked! I’m still pretty terrible but it feels good to learn something new, I love the challenge! Any beginners out there, HMU!
3- I love to cook, it brings me so much joy to prepare nourishing food for myself and others. Food is so delish! The kitchen is one place for me that time doesn’t really matter, I love throwing on a podcast or some tunes and getting lost in a recipe & preparing a feast. I’m such a mess in the kitchen though! Ha!
4- I rescued my pup Jude back in November 2019 from China, he has been an absolute dream come true! As a Christmas gift this year I was given Jude’s doggy DNA profile and found out he is part Ridgeback, Sharpei, Shih Tzu, Pekengese & Chow Chow. A true Chinese street mutt!
5- If I weren’t a photographer, I think I would pursue becoming a sign language interpreter! I took a year of American Sign Language (ASL) in uni and find the language & deaf community fascinating. Maybe down the road I could integrate sign language with photography!