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Meet Danielle Sykes of Danielle Sykes Photography

Today we’d like to introduce you to Danielle Sykes.

Danielle, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in a tiny town tucked into the mountains of northeastern Vermont. After college, I worked in an ICU as a Respiratory Therapist for four years. My daily encounters with life and death scenarios caused me to seek out an opportunity I had more passion for. I left my job at the hospital to start a 10-month program at Hallmark Institute of Photography.

After graduating Hallmark, I moved to Boston and began photographing product and lifestyle imagery for a startup company focused on makers. I discovered my knack for styling while at that job because the pace was so quick and there was rarely a budget for stylists. After one year in Boston, I transitioned to freelance work. In addition to shooting product, I connected with local interior designers and began photographing newly renovated homes.

I moved to Los Angeles two years ago for an opportunity to photograph for Hasbro, the toy company. Working in the toy industry has opened up a new world for me where I can combine my skills in photography and styling to work on projects like miniature diorama builds for Marvel, Disney Princess and Star Wars toys. I’ve kept up with photographing interiors by contributing home tours for Houzz. Also, I strive to always be working on personal projects as an outlet for conceptual ideas.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I feel lucky overall and I’m thankful for the work I do and that I am able to make a life in Los Angeles. That’s not to say there haven’t been really scary moments. Every big leap I’ve taken has paid off, but when I was at the crossroads it was just terrifying. I’ve gotten through by trying to not over think things. I focus on the work that needs to be done and never let it really sink in just how risky or crazy an idea may be. If I had thought too much about it, I would never have taken most of the chances that really were worth it. I definitely would not live where I live and do what I do.

In work and life, we can’t see what’s next and there’s a great deal of trust you have to have in the unknown to survive as a creative. It’s a constant struggle to find the balance between making sure bills are paid and feeling creatively fulfilled. Having a little acceptance that myself and my business are in a constant state of evolution helps.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Danielle Sykes Photography – what should we know?
Danielle Sykes Photography focuses on product, interior and still life imagery. I love the opportunity to collaborate with creative clients and map out how to represent their brand in the most colorful and imaginative way possible. My experience with building and styling sets offers clients a broader range of opportunities to showcase their products and ideas.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
There have been so many people who encouraged me and were excited to take a chance on me when I didn’t feel deserving – both clients and colleagues. There’s one story that stands out to me when talking about professional relationships.

When I first moved to Boston I learned a crucial lesson from a fellow photographer. We met because a client pits us against each other in a scenario that was uncomfortably negative and unprofessional. I admired her ability to set aside the competitive aspect and prioritize a human element that is often missing in business. We have been friends since and she’s been a central connection in a lot of the work I do now. It’s so important to just be a nice person.

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