Recently I was contacted to do an interview with Voyage Magazine in Dallas! You can read my entire interview here: Dana Awkwardly Talks About Herself but if you don't have time, to skip around on the internet, here's what I had to say:
Today we’d like to introduce you to Dana Menendez.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Dana. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Originally from Alberta, Canada, I came to Texas when I was 18. I always had a passion for photography, but it wasn’t until I had my first child that I decided to pursue it as a career. I took newborn photos of my first child and they were quite an amateur effort! It was then that I realized how much goes into newborn photography: the training, the safety measures, and the never-ending search for props and backdrops.
I started slowly, learning as much as I could and shooting free sessions for some very patient and understanding parents as I learned the craft. Once I was confident in my work, I began charging for my sessions several years ago. The work of a photographer like me is to never be satisfied with where I’m at but to continue learning different techniques and adapting to trends and customer desires.
Has it been a smooth road?
The most important decision I made for both myself and my clients was not offering paid sessions until I felt like my work was of a professional level that I myself would pay someone else to do. This was a difficult choice since the tendency of new photographers is to buy your first professional camera and start charging fees right away — after all, you have equipment you have to pay for now. But you’re not going to keep clients if you charge money for sessions well before you have established your style and workflow.
The biggest challenge for professional photographers is that now everyone is walking around with a camera in their pocket, so the natural, unstated feeling from people is “why would I pay someone to take my pictures? My smartphone does a pretty good job.” I take snapshots of my life with my smartphone, too! But clients aren’t paying me for snapshots; they are paying for lighting, setups, safety, experience, editing, and so much more that goes into creating unique art to capture important moments in their lives. Communicating this to potential clients is an ongoing challenge.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Dana Menendez Photography story. Tell us more about the business.
I am a photographer, specializing in maternity and newborn photography. To be honest, what sets me apart from many photographers out there is that I have paid attention to all the details of running a business: I have trained extensively in newborn photography and the only attempt poses that I know to be safe for the baby. I pay taxes, my business is insured, and my equipment is properly maintained. The software I use for editing is properly licensed. To me, these are the differences between the serious hobbyist and the professional who intends to be around for years to come.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I see the challenge for photographers justifying why they charge for their art continuing with technological advancements that fit in your pocket. There will always be a difference between the images you can capture with a tiny image sensor and simulated digital effects versus lenses that need their own backpack and studio lighting that takes up half a room. Photographers are going to continue to be challenged to educate clients and potential clients that professional photography is relevant and results in the creation of unique, beautiful art.