Photography Case Study: Danielle Stanley

I started doing these case studies a few months as a way to show you the different journeys people take to get to where they are, and to shed some light on the ways you can grow your photography skills too!  Today, we are featuring the wonderful Danielle Stanley, who is also another long time reader of Live Snap Love.  I'm so thrilled to finally have her on the blog (I'm been pestering her for months!) as I have loved seeing her progress and how beautifully she captures her days. If you want to read more photography journeys, there's links to more at the bottom of this post. Hope you enjoy them.......Audrey xI

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your photography journey?

Hi, I’m Dani and I’m a closet IT nerd living near London in the UK. I first became interested in photography when documenting my travels in my early twenties, back in the days of film, you know when you would shoot blind and take a few extra shots, just for good measure... OK now I’m showing my age! 

Get photography tips and insights with these photography case studies! | Beginner Photography Tips

I purchased my first DSLR to relieve the boredom when watching my partner motor racing; well that was the idea but I soon realised it wasn’t as easy as it looked taking shots of fast moving cars. I couldn’t make head nor tail of the manual (A.K.A gobbledygook), so the camera was soon relegated back to its box where it stayed for a number of years. 

Along came our son and my trusty point and shoot did a very good job of capturing the first few months. However, as soon as he became mobile, a lot of my shots were blurry so I assumed my camera was broken and dug back out my DSLR. Completely by accident, I set it to portrait mode and noticed immediately that my photos were more aesthetically pleasing, although I had no idea why. I purchased my first prime lens, the nifty fifty and so now I had all the gear, but still no idea! 

First photos of my son taken on my DSLR Canon 400D

First photos of my son taken on my DSLR Canon 400D

When I accidently switched to Portrait Mode

When I accidently switched to Portrait Mode

I then stumbled upon Audrey’s website with simple and easy bite sized tutorials and I finally found a resource I enjoyed and could put into practice. I then (nervously) joined the Live Snap Love Project 52 group and I was inspired by some very supportive and talented photographers to switch from Auto to Manual mode and I have never looked back.

What was your biggest challenge when learning photography?

Grasping the benefits of using manual mode; for a long time (and I mean a long time), I just didn’t get it! Why did my camera sometimes take lovely photos and other times get it so wrong?! Then came the fancy jargon, I struggled to know my ISO from my shutter speed, my f.stop from my depth of field. No matter how much I read the manual, it just didn’t stick.

Did you have a turning point where everything clicked, and if so, what was it?

Realising that I could not rely on “lucky” shots; by becoming aware of light and taking full control of my camera’s settings meant I could finally achieve the photos I aspired to take.

Is there any advice you received that stuck with you?

Create from the inside out. My photography crush is Kate T Parker and I love how she captures and evokes emotion. Taking her “Turning Lifestyle Photography into Art” workshop via Clickin Moms tapped into a creative side of me I never knew existed and more importantly, it taught me that photography can be art and that art is subjective; do not compare yourself to others, take images that feed your soul.

How would you describe your photography style?

Clean, simple, candid and wherever possible, fun!  I shoot mainly in natural light and I love nothing more than simply documenting my son’s life. I want to remember all the details.

How do you get inspired and stay creative?

I like to experiment and try new things that take me out of my comfort zone. I’ve tried everything from taking shots of an apple that looks like it’s on fire with a piece of string to shooting spoons on an iPad. At some point I will revisit nailing a panning shot of a race car!

365 Project 2013

My son also keeps me inspired. Now he is older he comes up with is own ideas; “hey mum, can you make me look like I’m running like the Flash?!”

What gear do you shoot with, and do you have a favorite lens?

Now I come to think of it, Audrey has inspired me to buy all of my gear (thanks Audrey!). My baby camera, is a Canon 5D Mark III.

I love love love blurry backgrounds (bokeh), so I do have a tendency to shoot wide open with a longer lens when I have the space. Having said that, I love all my lenses for different reasons:

Canon 50mm f1.4.

The 50mm F1.4 is a great lens indoors where space is limited or when the background adds to the story.

Canon 85mm f1.8

The 85mm F1.8 is the perfect lens for portrait photography.                                 

Canon 135 mm f2

I love the 135mm when I want to capture my son in full but retain nice bokeh.

Canon 200 mm f2.8

I always reach for the 200mm F2.8 when I want yummy bokeh.

Expo Disc

I have spent way too much time struggling with color so I always use my trusty Expodisc indoors or in tricky lighting outdoors.

Do you have any tips or advice that you could pass along to any new photographers?

Switching from Auto to Manual mode is like learning to drive; at first it can seem quite daunting, so much to remember, so many buttons and dials but with perseverance and practice you will one day find yourself doing it automatically (quite ironic when you are learning manual mode!).