Today’s interview is with Danielle Hatcher!
You’re the CMpro of the Month for December, Danielle – Congratulations! I’d love to hear more about you and how you started your photography journey.
I’ve had an interest in photography since I was little. My mom would always let me borrow her film camera and I would snap away. I even remember our favorite film was Kodak Gold 400. There were shots I’d take where she’d say, “There is no way that’s going to turn out.” Then later she’d tell me, “Remember that one shot? It’s one of my favorites from the roll!” So if you asked her she’d probably tell you I’ve always had “an eye.” In High School I took the same photography elective that everyone else did. Then as an adult I always used my point and shoot on Manual (or as Manual as it could be). Finally, on my 2nd Mother’s Day I asked for a DSLR and never looked back. I learned how to shoot Manual from the very beginning. I even read the owner’s manual! Ha! A couple of years after that, I joined Clickin’ Moms and started my photography business along the way as well. That was 4 years ago and I’m so grateful for where my journey has taken me now!
What type of photography do you tend to shoot the most and what is it that drew you to that niche?
I specialize in “in-home” lifestyle photography. Right now (during the Fall/Winter) I’m doing a lot of outdoor sessions because people are looking for more traditional, Christmas Card-type photos. But for the most part I’m in my clients’ homes, having fun and snapping away, or just capturing my kids’ day-to-day. The reason I’m most drawn to lifestyle photography is because the roll of family historian (or photographer) often falls on the mother. But I think it’s important to have images of every-day life that include mom, too, since she is often the driving force of a lot of what happens in the home. I expand a lot on that in my breakout, but essentially that is why I do what I do.
Describe your dream shoot.
My dream session would be spending an afternoon with a family. I might show up as the kids are arriving home from school, or when the baby is waking up from a nap. After some hugs and snuggling on the couch talking about their day, they all grab a quick snack in the kitchen and we head upstairs to play, read, or do homework. Then as the sun gets perfectly low, we take a walk to the neighborhood park for some more play time. Or we might run a quick errand to a favorite local shop, and just explore. Basically the family just hangs out, and I capture the fun.
You love to include the environment in your photos. Why is that and what is your favorite lens to help you achieve that?
I think the environment plays a huge roll in lifestyle photography. An important part of the resulting photos is remembering what the surroundings looked like. I love capturing the scale in relation to small kiddos and big furniture, too. I also obviously like getting all of the family members in the frame, when possible, so shooting wide is important to me. Because of that I primarily shoot with my 24-70mm. It allows me to shoot rather wide when I feel like it, but I can also zoom in and catch lots of details without disrupting a moment. I generally use this same lens when photographing outdoor portraits, too.
There is a wonderful simplicity to your imagery. What do you look for in a location or scene to help achieve this look and your style?
Thank you so much! I do like to keep it simple whenever possible. That said, there are so many layers to this question! I definitely talk A LOT about this in my breakout. First I look at the light. I figure out how I’m going to use it and play with it in any given scene. Then I look for colors, lines, patterns, and other cues that are relevant to the overall composition I want in the resulting images. Lastly, I try to keep my post processing simple as well. I try to get it as close to perfect in-camera as I can so that there is very little that needs to be done to the image after the fact. I’m a very straightforward, “what you see is what you get” shooter. I try not to manipulate too much. Again, this is true whether I’m shooting inside or out. I try to capture genuine connection, in a very simple way.
What piece of advice would you offer to someone just getting started in photography?
I think the best piece of advice to give someone just starting out is to find your style, and stay true to yourself. I know it’s said a lot, but it is so, So, SO true! To help with this, ask yourself WHY you want to learn more about photography in the first place? What are you hoping to capture in your images? Answering some basic questions about why you’re doing this will help steer you to your overall style. It will also help direct you in setting up your business structure and specializing (if you chose to go into business).
If you were given $5,000 to spend on anything photography related, what would it be?
Let’s see, my camera definitely needs an upgrade! I’ve been using it for at least a few years, and got it second hand to begin with. So a new D750 would be at the top of my list! The Sigma 35 Art has been on my list for a while too. And a couple new updated sample albums would be great, as well.
You are coming out with a Breakout Session, A Guide to Beautifully Honest Family Photography. What does honest family photography mean to you? Would you tell us a little about your Breakout?
“Honest Family Photography” is what I (with a lot of help from some dear friends) came up with to describe my approach to in-home, lifestyle sessions. It means that I try to capture the family in the most honest way possible. I try to find out what is important to the family right now, and we shoot in their home where everyone can hopefully feel as relaxed as possible. I don’t pose or force anyone to do anything they don’t want to do. We relax and have fun. I don’t go so far as to call myself a documentary photographer, because I do still try to create and direct moments together, if and when needed. But I always strive to stay true to the stage of life that the family is in, and what their normal day-to-day may look like. The breakout basically covers anything and everything about my approach to in-home, lifestyle sessions, from start to finish. I really poured my heart and soul into it! I talk about how to create an informative and helpful questionnaire, use of light, creative compositions, staying inspired, creating visual interest, trouble-shooting, and more. In addition to the PDF, there’s a 17-minute behind-the-scenes video of an actual lifestyle session (not a model family). Then I recorded 48-minutes of editing videos with some of the images from that very same session. I’ve also included a handful of bonus materials: two bonus videos that serve as giant pull-backs, along with accompanying images from each space; a bonus PDF on my approach to lifestyle newborns; and a set of bonus prompt cards for you to stay fresh and keep shooting at lifestyle sessions even if the family isn’t sure what to do. I am really so excited!
The New Year is right around the corner. What are you goals and ambitions for 2016?
In 2016 I am SO looking forward to continue shooting my amazing clients (both new and returning), and I’m also hoping to expand my stock photography portfolio. I consider myself a fully-booked part-time shooter, so I’m not necessarily looking to add many more sessions to the calendar, just to keep on keeping on. I would LOVE to speak and/or teach again at Click Away, whenever that is announced. And other than that I’m REALLY looking forward to doing a lot of traveling with my family in the summer. 🙂