When I was first starting out with my photography business in October of 2008, I approached quite a few well-established photographers here in town with a request for one of them to mentor me and share his or her knowledge of the business in exchange for my free services – whether those services had to do with photography or just being a gopher for a few months. Not a chance. None of them would give me any advice on the basics of setting up a photography business. None of them (with the exception of one) would answer my questions about technical aspects of photography. None of them was willing to give me any insight into what I should and shouldn’t be doing to fast track my career and avoid unnecessary mistakes.
At first, I was really disappointed with the “anti-newbie” mentality that I was up against, but the disappointment soon turned into determination to be successful on my own terms, with or without help. I taught myself how to take pictures, read a ton of books on how to run a successful business, asked my brother (who is a gifted businessman) for advice and learned many things through trial and error. I am still constantly learning and improving on both my photography and business techniques and knowledge and I suspect it will always be so.
However, throughout this learning process, I swore to myself that I would never turn away a budding photographer if he or she asked for my help. I strongly believe that donating your time and knowledge to help others will always come back to you tenfold, both from connections in your community and from gratitude of those you’ve given your time to.
Which brings me to the purpose of this blog entry.
Last year I volunteered to shoot a charity golf tournament for Developing World Connections (a local charity that does a lot of amazing volunteer work in third world countries) and I was so very pleased to meet Andrew Danyluk, a local photographer who, after seven years of shooting, had just started up his photography business. We had a fantastic conversation at dinner and I walked away thinking that this guy was going to be very successful. Not only does Andrew have an extremely likable personality (which we all know is helpful in any business), but he’s also modest and humble. He is willing to try new things, he listens to people, he’s compassionate, funny and, as an afterthought, he’s a phenomenal photographer!!!
In addition to many other kinds of photography, Andrew is breaking in to the wedding business this year as well and I am positive that his clients will be thrilled with the results!
I asked Andrew a few questions about himself and photography and I also asked him to send me three of his recent favorite photos with explanations as to why he likes them so much.
How did you get into photography?
I was always interested in photography as a way to document things in my life, like adventures with my friends, travelling, parties, sports…pretty much everything. But I guess I really caught the photo bug during a family trip to Egypt back in high school (back in the film days). While everyone in the group was busy taking photos of major land marks (pyramids, the sphinx, tombs and such) I was busy taking photos of the people that occupied these places. I mean, the pyramids are basically a giant pile of rocks, and in my mind are nowhere near as interesting to photograph as compared to an old man with a giant, dusty beard that is so long that he throws it over his shoulder.
When we returned home and everyone had their photos printed, it struck me that everyone’s photos were virtually identical – the same shot of the same statue taken from the exact same angle…BORING. I honestly don’t think I took a single shot of a major landmark, all my shots were of people. I was pretty much hooked after that.
What are the aspects of photography you love the most?
Without a doubt, it’s photographing people.
What would make up the perfect shoot for you?
The perfect shoot for me could be so many different things. It could be a beautiful outdoor wedding ceremony on a sunny day, walking the streets of a strange city in a foreign land, just snapping pictures of the people I meet along the way, or up on a mountain on an epic powder day with good friends.
For me, the perfect day of shooting is all about the people I am with and telling their story.
What is your goal with photography?
This winter I achieved one of my life goals and I really have photography to thank for it. I have always wanted to go heli skiing, and this past winter my good friend (and fellow photographer) Dan Stewart and I started shooting for Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing in Revelstoke. So now I am getting paid to go Heli Skiing and take photos – basically my two biggest passions in life combined -I am blessed.
Another photography goal is to shoot a destination wedding somewhere exotic, like India or Bali. And I don’t mean a “North American” wedding in a foreign country, but a wedding done in the local tradition. I just think it would be so interesting to photograph a wedding from the perspective of a different culture.
Who inspires you?
This answer to this question is constantly changing. Right now, I would say that I’m inspired by a man named Ted Simon, author of Jupiter’s Travels. In 1973, Ted Simon set out to travel around the world by motorcycle, a journey that took him four years to complete. It just blows my mind that he completed this incredible journey in a time without cell phones, GPS, the internet and world wide overnight shipping. If his bike broke down in the middle of the desert (and it did), he had to push it to the nearest town and pray that they had either a telephone or telegraph so that he could order a replacement part, then wait for a couple of weeks for the part to arrive.
His journey has been duplicated by many including actor Ewan McGregor (and Charlie Boorman), and was the basis for the documentary Long Way Round. I guess what I find inspirational is the courage that it must have taken to be the first person to attempt this – especially when you consider the fact that most people will knowingly choose unhappiness over uncertainty. Ted wasn’t even sure if there would be roads in some of these places (and many times, there weren’t) but he did it anyways. I also love the fact that nobody wanted to go with him because they thought he was crazy. So he did it alone, without the help of any of the modern technologies that we take for granted today. I can only hope to have half the courage that Ted Simon has.
(As a side note, Long Way Round and Long Way Down are two of my husband, Greg’s, favorite shows. He watches them just prior to the beginning of every motorcycle season and during the winter when he’s missing being on his bike. Both documentaries are amazing, funny, inspirational and, at times, heartbreaking. Well worth the ten or twelve hours it takes to watch them)
If you could shoot only one kind of photography, what would be your first choice and why?
This is such a tough question to answer because I truly love all types of photography. But if money was no object, I would have to say travel photography. I can imagine myself as Indiana Jones (with a camera instead of a whip), travelling to strange and beautiful places, camera in hand, ready to document my adventures. Oh yah…and my images would grace the pages of such prestigious publications as National Geographic, Time and Life magazines.
What are your three current favorite images and why?
My favorite images are constantly changing and when I’m put on the spot to pick, I often have great difficulty in doing so. But I have come up with 3 that I am currently pretty fond of.
1) I really like the expressions in this image and the sense of speed and motion in it. It just looks like they are having a lot of fun, and brings back good memories of last summer. I’m also partial to this image because my girlfriend is in it (the middle one).
2) I like this one because it is such a great memory from my travels in Laos. I arrived in the little mountain town by motorcycle, and became stranded by a very intense monsoon that caused significant flooding in the area. Despite a serious language barrier, a local family took me in for the night and made sure I had a full belly and a place to lay my head. I took this photograph the next day, when half the kids in the town gathered to see me off…it was such a surreal experience.
3) This last one I just love! I love the blue sky. I love the riders strong body position. I also like that you can see another guy hiking up in the background, it really helps to emphasize just how HUGE the rider is going. On this particular day we were above an incredible sea of clouds, with perfect light all day…I was truly in photographer heaven.
See what I mean? Likable, honest, talented – what more could you ask for in a photographer? I feel blessed to have met Andrew and I look forward to working with him soon…if I ever get out of this bed!
If you would like to see more of Andrew’s work, you can check out his website at www.davidandrew.ca.
Thanks Andrew, for allowing me to interview you, for being so open and forthright about your passions and for sharing a little piece of yourself with the rest of us. You rock!