Danielle Dobson is a natural light and lifestyle photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. She loves taking bold and unposed photographs of families to showcase their love. She likes that her job also includes talking, laughing and connecting with her clients while they connect with each other - this is where the sincerity in her work comes from.
Tribe Collective: Tell us about yourself. What is your background, and how did you get into photography?
Danielle Dobson: I studied photography way back in high school, then one year in college before deciding to put the camera down and pursue other things. I lost my passion in a time when photography was super competitive, and I just no longer had the heart for it. Years later, after I married and had two kids, I started playing with my husband’s humble little X-T1, and never looked back. I spent the following twelve months relearning everything I could, then launched my business a year ago.
TC: Please provide us with a list of the gear you use on a regular basis:
DD: Fujifilm X-T2, 23mm 1.4, 35mm 2.0 and 90mm 2.0. I was recently gifted an Olympus OM-1 which I've yet to have a proper play with!
TC: What does your post-production process look like?
DD: I usually cull in Photo Mechanic (life saver!) and everything else is done in Lightroom. Once I apply my preset (or Terrain profile!) I adjust shadows and highlights and that’s usually about it. For some images, however, I may sit and play for a while, I love editing.
TC: How has your photography style evolved over time?
DD: It took me about a year to find my style, but even since then it has evolved so much. The biggest part of this was discovering my ‘why’. Once I figured that out, my photography became less about perfecting things and more about how images made me feel.
TC: What are your favourite tools for capturing, editing, and enhancing your photographs?
DD: I have minimal gear, usually only using my X-T2 and 23mm lens. I am a huge fan of setting my colour temperature (Kelvin) during sessions to create the warm tones I’m always drawn to. And I’m really enjoying playing with the new Tribe Archipelago Terrain profiles. They are giving me so much more freedom and room to edit.
TC: What is your greatest piece of advice for emerging photographers?
DD: Don’t rush into it: take your time to learn and practice as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to invest in a mentor! Find someone to be your cheerleader, your inspiration, your challenger. Find someone whose work you connect with and just do it! Once you are ready, you can confidently launch your business. Don’t undervalue yourself, and finally, stop following the crowd! It will never be as fulfilling as it is to shoot from the heart. Remember your story, embrace it and shoot for you.
TC: What type of photography do you most enjoy?
DD: Families, but mothers with their babies (any age) to be specific. I love a good mumma snuggle!
TC: What are you discouraged about in your work/business? What encourages you?
DD: Like many of us I used to compare my work/business to other photographers, which completely takes the joy out of it. So now I remind myself to only compare my current work to my own work one year ago. Then I can really see my progress, how I’ve evolved and grown.
TC: When was a time you thought you would/had failed? How did you overcome it?
DD: After I launched in June last year, I got a handful of bookings, but not long after that things quietened down. A lot. I started second guessing everything, my style, my pricing, my website, my skill. I thought I was a complete failure! But I knew I had to follow my gut, and as hard as it was, wait it out. I kept busy with some portfolio building sessions and learning as much as I could and once I hit October, things got much busier. I know I could have easily dropped my prices to bring in more bookings, but in the long run, it would have only made things harder for my business to get to where it is now.
TC: What defines success for you as a photographer? If you never achieve that, will you still be satisfied with what you do?
DD: For me, there are two different types of success: success as a business owner and success as an artist. As a business owner, I want to be reaching my financial goal each year, but still be able to do all the mum things that I need and want to be doing. As an artist, I want to be in-tune with myself, to create art that moves me, to tell the family’s story and my story through my photographs. If I don’t achieve success as an artist, I know I will never be satisfied, no matter how much money I am making. It just doesn’t work like that.