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Conversations with Dani Hughes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dani Hughes.

Dani, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?

I want to say it was when I was 14. My parents got me a camera because I was constantly taking theirs to snap photos of my dogs or of my friends at parties. From the moment I got my hands on my own camera, I was hooked. What began as something I did for fun quickly became an escape from feeling like I was stuck in the small town I grew up in. I know it sounds cliché but there has always been something about taking a picture and truly being able to capture a moment; making it appear so much “larger than life” that kept me sane.

I ended up leaving home and moving to Yosemite National Park. I lived in a tent and had no clue what I was doing, but I was so thrilled with the park’s powerful presence and the smallness I felt. It was then that I began taking my hobby and turning it into more. From the landscape to the people I came across, the inspiration for creativity was endless. I have more photos than I know what to do with – from my seasons there and all of the other seasonal jobs I have been fortunate to have; photos that captured my everyday life like a journal.

But just like most people, I had always felt this sense of pressure when it came to my photography, so a lot of the photos I took have ended up in my personal archives. I have always been okay with keeping a good majority of my photos private but recently, 2020 to be exact, some really incredible friends and family encouraged me to pursue the one thing that got me through all of life’s hurdles; my photography. As someone who never received formal schooling and has essentially lived on the road for the first half of my twenties, I had this worry that without the training and the education nobody would take me seriously. I couldn’t have been more wrong. With every opportunity I get, I see my confidence and skills grow. I am beyond excited to continue to learn and grow in this beautiful monster of an industry.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?

You know, I won’t say it has been smooth but it has been so fun. Until recently, it was a great way for me to get my mind off of things and express myself creatively. But when I decided to turn the hobby into my career the energy has changed; not in a bad way, but it is different. There is a sense of urgency and pressure that comes along with it all now.

A big challenge is time. Since I still work a regular 9-5, all of my photography work is done around that, so it can be a hard balance. But honestly, my passion for my photography has grown so much in the last year or so that I have learned to enjoy and appreciate the struggle. I keep looking forward and working on my confidence as an artist, so it makes the time crunch worth it. My hope is that someday soon, I will be able to put all of my focus into my career as a photographer, but for now I’m open to the juggling act.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?

I am a photographer. I don’t like to say I specialize in just one thing, but to put it into words – I like to take a simple situation and turn it into a question. I know my job is done when you look at one of my photos and you don’t just have one focus, but each thing you see makes you feel something. I am most proud of my ability to draw people into my photos with my use of color and surroundings. I’m not afraid to get into what I am doing. I will get crushed by waves in the ocean, hike miles to get the right angle, or insert myself into undesirable positions just to turn the vision of a photo into reality.

As far as the style of my work goes, I emphasize my clients’ confidence by taking intimate photos that result in moody, full colors on display.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?

To be confident in my art and patient with the process. It is absolutely the biggest hurdle I have had to overcome and every day I work at it.

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