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In Focus Women In Profile - Danielle Watson


What sparked your interest in photography?

My interest in photography came from following some travel accounts and photographers on social media. I worked as a professional tennis coach and sports scientist previously and when I was taking a break, I picked up a camera to take better travel photos for myself. I did lots of workshops with photographers I admired to learn how to use my camera and I became hooked. I probably blame Kieran Stone, Adam Dyson, Ading Attamini, and Tassiegrammer they were too good as a teachers and amazing people to boot.

How long have you been shooting for?

I have been shooting for 4 years, after my first year, I decided I wanted to learn more and went and studied photography fulltime at RMIT University and last year I spent the year working for Ken Duncan to learn more about the industry.

What is your favourite type of photography?

Good question, If you would have asked me that a before I went to university it would have been landscape photography. My passion lies in landscape still, but I love all forms of photography, right now I am trying to determine how I can combine different genres to create a body of work. But I have built a folio in sports photography, portraiture, fashion, products, real estate, architecture and more.

What is in your camera bag?

Canon 1Dx Body, Canon 5D Mark III Infrared, Lumix S1r, Canon 16-35m, Canon 24-70mm, Canon 70-200mm, Nisi Professional Filter Set, Sirui W-2204 Tripod, DJI Mavic Pro II and few other lenses that I need to use more but I carry this gear with me most of the time.

What would your dream kit be?

I would love a Phase One, because I have seen first-hand the benefits of printing big with a Phase One, but I am really enjoying testing out the Lumix S1r at the moment, its light and really packs a punch. I am however looking to trial the Fuji. But I am definitely eyeing off medium format because its more in line to the work I am looking to produce in the next few years.

What software do you use to process your images?

I use Lightroom as my catalogue and raw processor but it really depends what the end result is. I use a combination of a few programs such as Capture One especially for commercial work and tethering, to finishing images if required in photoshop and or to print.

Who are your top 3 photography inspirations?

That is a good question… I really draw inspiration from a variety of photographers across multiple genres. I would consider myself a photography geek, I own a lot of books and I love drawing inspiration from everywhere, which is great when you are starting out and trying to find your niche and what makes you different as a photographer. BUT… First … Ken Duncan would have to be my biggest inspiration and I am fortunate to be able to work for him and his wife Pam. I wanted to learn about the industry and how to be a photographer from the best. I am challenged on a daily basis to become a better photographer, a better person and how to give back to the industry. I have learnt a lot, and Ken and Pam are so generous with their time and knowledge, so I do consider myself fortunate. Second… Is anyone not inspired by Ansel Adams? I must say, I didn’t know who Ansel Adams was until I went to University and we studied “Photo History”… “I know shocking” but I was a sports geek. But I love his use of light and in my humble opinion I don’t think there is anyone better. A third choice might be too difficult because I am inspired by so many photographers who do amazing work Hillary Younger is definitely a female photographer that inspires me, but Peter Drombovskis, Luke Tscharke, Daniel Tran, Paul Hoelen, Ignacio Palacois, Tom Putt, Annie Leibovitz, Paul Nicklen, Frank Hurley, Christian Fletcher, Glenn McKimmin, Peter Eastway, there really would be too many to name.

What are your top 3 bucket list locations you want to shoot?

Karijini - I went to Karijini in 2017 when I was new to photography and LOVED it. I want to go back. I would love to spend a month or so exploring the area and chasing the light.

The Kimberleys – I love the colours and textures, after the wet season would be ideal but I have that high on the list.

The Franklin River – To follow in Peter Drombovskis footsteps, not even to photograph but to experience. Its remote, rugged and beautiful. I would love to see it and I was supposed to go in Dec 2020 but cancelled due to covid.

But I’ve applied for an arts fellowship to Antarctica, to see the southern lights, the northern lights, Kamchatka, so many places overseas but I think we have so many beautiful unexplored places in Australia to experience also.

How has Covid-19 changed the way you shoot?

Covid has not really changed the way I shoot, but its changed the way I think about photography and forced me to start selling prints, printing big, sorting out my digital asset management strategy for the future. I did experiment with light and drones, and starting thinking about series of work during Covid but coming back to Melbourne and being stuck here was perhaps a huge positive, it gave me time to start the process of establishing myself and begin to build my brand. But it’s a long evolving process and at least I have started rather than putting it off.

What advice would give a beginner?

Don’t be afraid of failure, learn from your mistakes. I made a lot of mistakes early on but keep practicing and learning.

The importance to network, that came naturally to me in the sports industry, we networked and discussed best practice. I have been surprised how many photographers don’t network and or are afraid to network. Write a list of photographers that inspire you and reach out to them, social media etc, go on a workshop, listen to them speak, offer to buy them a coffee, you will be surprised how approachable most are. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. BUT if your meeting a photographer don’t show them your images on social media or a phone, take a printed portfolio! Show them your work printed!!! A photograph isn’t a photograph until its printed.

Lastly collect work from photographers you admire. Books and prints, importantly if you want to sell your work.. collect prints, you have no idea how inspiring it is to see a print by a photographer you admire on your wall. It gives you a goal to achieve that level of work. Go to galleries and view printed work and then set your goals to achieve that level.

What are your social media handles?

Instagram: @daniwatsonau

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