Conversations with Creative Women – Danielle Thomas

Danielle Thomas

It has been such a pleasure to be able to interview the very talented Danielle Thomas. I love learning about what drives creative women and how they are able to pursue their passions whilst raising a family. Danielle offers a candid and honest take on how her successful business “Danielle Thomas Photography” has developed and some new ventures that you are sure to want to be a part of, including a blog reader promotion! Read the interview carefully – a fabulous offer awaits you!

What is ‘Danielle Thomas Photography’ ?

Danielle Thomas Photography is candid, true, fresh photography. It’s an experience; it’s a wedding, a family, a moment, a new adventure.
Most importantly it’s real. It’s far from posed or created. It may be enticed or encouraged but never posed.
Danielle Thomas photography is unique and instinctive. Imagine the timeliness of natural lighting combined with sweet, mischievous, honest faces.

I want each of my clients to leave their session feeling the love that sometimes can only been seen by others around us. I also want images that are modern enough to grace the cover of a magazine, timeless enough for to cherish forever and most importantly real. This is all a delicate balance.

Do you remember the first photograph you ever took?

I remember having a Kodak 110 film camera in my late primary days, grade 6 actually. It was pink (totally not me) and mum and dad gave it to me for Christmas. I thought ‘I’ was Christmas with this thing. Its flash would blind you and the noise it made when it was winding onto the next frame was so totally cool! As for the photo I think it was of some goldfish in a pond on our Grade 6 camp.I actually think I still have the picture in print.
The images this gorgeous little snapper took have today’s popular iPhone Instagram appeal to them. When I think back to this camera and actually see the appeal of owning one again, for fun. Your images are not always perfect, far from it but they are TRUE to that moment, very live and instinctive.

Where did you grow up and how did family life and your home influence how you “see” the world?

I grew up in Hamilton. I went to George Street Primary School and Hamilton High School. My parents are both exceptionally hard working which instilled in me an importance of a work ethic. Life for us was about family and fun.

Can you identify a particular moment when you realised that photography was your real passion?

Ooh ooh I love this question I have wanted to be a photographer since I was 6 years old (LOL).I loved photo’s. That’s about it. I loved photographs. If i went to a strangers home and there were albums on a shelf or side table I wouldn’t be able to help myself.

I was given a SLR camera from my husband Troy, it was the first Christmas we shared together. I remember sitting looking at the box with my mouth open, mind spinning “how did he know I would love this, oh how ridiculously expensive, how do i use it, this is crazy…. OMG! I GAVE HIM SHORTS!”

Now to look back on my days at school (all of it) I was not an academic and honestly will admit to only just passing my VCE. I can see myself, laughing, doodling on my pages, staring out the window. Dolly magazine hidden in my school books so I could read it in class. Colour, fashion, trends.
I can now identify myself as being visual and creative, much to the frustration of my teachers and peers back then who didn’t deal well with visual and creative learners. So it comes to no surprise to me that the gift of a camera unlocked the visual and creative me.

The power of photography has never ceased to amaze me. The ability to fit a couple’s love story within a single frame, a family adventure stopped in time to be relived forever, to shape the way we see one another, see ourselves; it’s quite a magical thing.

At what point did you know that you wanted to work as a professional photographer?

I started shooting everything that I could initially: birds, shoes, fences, nails, holidays.I read my manual cover to cover. The manual for all my lenses, flashes and so on. I read blogs, tutorials, posted in forums, pimped my lack of ability to anyone on the web who was willing to help.I watched you tube tutorials until all hours of the night, photoshop, light room, depth of field, f/stops, iso, light, histograms. I was obsessed because it was finally something that could power my brain like nothing before it. It was so mentally satisfying.
I would read. Shoot. watch. Shoot. listen. Shoot

I would get a lot of feedback on my images. Then I started to look at what I was doing with my images and that it was not just taking a picture on Auto, I was aware of composition and exposure. I would ask what people ‘didn’t like about my images rather than what they did like. I would work on it day and night until I had it right.

So to answer this, I will be really honest and say that it ‘just happened’, I didn’t set out to be a professional photographer. I didn’t see it coming.
The day came when I was asked to photograph a wedding by my sister- in -laws Aunty who knew me and liked what she saw. I did. It all clicked. The ‘ah ha’ moment. 

As a working mother how do you balance family life with a hectic schedule dealing with client photo shoots?

Balance is a very tricky thing to describe. What is one mother’s balance is another mother’s worst nightmare…lol
Troy, Zane and Rubi are number one. All else follows along.
I answer emails and do little tasks throughout the day whilst searching for missing jigsaw puzzles or rescuing a lego man’s head before its eaten for lunch my the Rubi monster.We play, farm, adventure, all the regular things that happen in a busy house.
Once they are in bed at night then I start my day as a photographer. Email, blog, edit, confirm, marketing, create until about 10.30 – 11pm.
When it comes to weddings we have plenty of warning and Troy the super dad steps in there. Shoots for families are usually weekends and my mum is fabulous, if Super dad is away.
Our little farm also takes up some time, it’s on top of everything so it demands attention from Troy so I am fortunate to also have our fabulous neighbour, who provides private care, who we adore and she is my saviour for anything through the week. I do get asked a lot ‘how do you find the time’ and have felt judged on few occasions which is a horrible feeling, and something that one mum should never do to another. Balance between career and family life is not an easy thing, but there is a middle ground, not too much and not too little.
I love being a stay at home mum… but I also love to do it my way (of course).

How do you engage your clients to capture them at their best?

I have one hard and fast rule I follow with portraits and weddings. IF IT’S NOT HAPPENING, DONT TRY TO CREATE IT! My style of photography is candid. Photojournalistic. It’s raw and needs to just be happening in front of me. Weddings fit this really well. Portrait sessions can be a little more work in that you need a bit more time. You need to give families space, distance and a few moments to be themselves. I have games and tricks I use to help little people relax and they are usually at the expense of the parents.

Do you have a ‘niche’ market that you are targeting with your photographic style and business ethos?

I have not really set out to target a ‘niche’ so to speak. I have very much let my client base lead me in a direction.

Last wedding season has seen big growth for me, word of mouth and some selective marketing see’s me going into the coming season very close to fully booked (yes, every weekend). I have had a lot of demand from Melbourne and Geelong brides for Winter weddings for 2013 so that will see the treasured 3-4 month winter break being invaded which is very exciting (maybe not for super dad)

Portraits are again a selective market. I am predominantly a natural light photographer. I have a strong regular family base which is great and I love seeing them come back again.

Have you ever had a seriously funny or embarrassing moment trying to get a great shot?

Touch wood not yet. But I am sure like everything my time will come…. I have witnessed some pretty hilarious moments on the other side of the camera, I guess in a movie they would be the outtakes or bloopers, like the too cool sister of the bride who gave us grief (including the bride) all day leaving the loo with her skirt tucked into her best Bridget Jones undies is a sight that still makes me chuckle…

How do you stay up to date with what is happening in the industry?
Being visual I research… well my research is magazines or web tutorials, forums, groups.I often find I have a random moment when I am meant to be editing that all of a sudden I realise I have clicked my way into a maze of interesting web links and blogs. I have also made a promise to myself that I will attend a workshop or professional development event annually, irrespective of how much I may ‘need’ it, they make for fabulous networking and I always think that its worth it if you come away with one thing…. just one new item, process, idea, thought, project, skill… at worst a peaceful nights sleep!

As an artist do you have photographers that you admire? How have they influenced your work?

Photography is a field that you can literally be inspired by all everyone, you can appreciate what it has taken to get that image.
A photographer that keeps my measure would be Meaghan Cook, whom I know and adore and has played a pivotal point in building my business and me as a photographer, she is also candid with her shooting style.
Jasmine Star who is a award winning wedding photographer in California USA, who I emailed many moons ago with a myriad of questions (some quite nosy) and was in ore when she not only replied but had taken the time to stop by my website, critique what I had asked and provide me with over 1000 words of wisdom and direction. Photographer Jodie Knell. We met about 4 years ago at a workshop and connected instantly, together we have had failures, accomplishments, tears, babies and we maintain a constant vigil at each other’s professional doors.

What can we expect from DT Photography in the future? How do you envisage your business developing in the next few years?

Well…..  I am currently in the process of finishing ‘The Outdoor Studio’ here in Tarrington. It has been a project over the last 12 – 18 months with a further 2-3 years ahead until fully complete.
Come this Spring you will be able to come visit for all sessions. On one large acre here in Tarrington set amongst our gorgeous bush setting. We have a range of settings perfectly designed for photography, with some very unique main features.
It’s very exciting to think that my clients will be able to arrive, walk through the gate and adventure around and I will just follow. It will offer a portrait experience that is unique to western victoria. Little people and families will feel relaxed and shoots will be candid and unposed. It will have very interesting settings that will be intriguing to little people, couples, singles, brides and grooms.  There are specific settings for newborn shoots that are naturally lit and wondrously whimsical.
Little Boys can adventure and Little Girls can skip and play. Couples can laze and relax and families can just be ‘families’

All the while I can stand back and let it all unfold, capturing the true essence of what their lives were like at that very moment. I am so excited about The Outdoor Studio.

If I could deliver anyone at all to your studio who would you most like to photograph?

Hugh Jackman. (remember I am visual. Not academic lol)

And finally, do you like having your photograph taken?

I don’t dislike it but I don’t loooove it. I really don’t do it enough, which was highlighted when Zane needed a picture of the two if us for kinder and I didn’t have one, we had to execute the less than perfect selfie. (note to self: get family portraits)

Danielle is offering blog readers a very special offer on a Family Session. (RRP $250) The session includes  a print gift pack (1 x20″x30″, 1 x 16″x20″, 1 x 8″x10″) for $200.
Conditions Apply: Location-Tarrington, Victoria. Book before 30th September 2012
Email Danielle with the code word : Tarrington.

danielle thomas photography
a: po box 85 tarrington, victoria, 3301
p: {03} 55711632 m: 0438803422

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