Danielle Finney is a breath-taking photographer based in the DC area. Working as a professional photographer for the last 4 years, Dfinney Photography and Design has grown into a brand experience that not only includes amazing photographs, but also brand development and training for other novice photographers. Prior to diving into her passion, Danielle was working full-time in an administrative role and photography was something she did in her spare time. Like many other Americans, she was laid off in late 2009 and took the opportunity to grow her personal brand as a photographer. What is striking about her personal brand is that her visual identity, color palette, typography choice, website design and even social media posts all tie in so perfectly. It is very visually stimulating and show that she is very deliberate about how she communicates her brand. Read more on Danielle below and be sure to visit her site.
Describe your personal brand in three words
clean, colorful, creative
30 second elevator pitch, Go!
I’m a natural light photographer specializing in portrait photography… This includes headshots, business promo photography, engagements, families, and weddings. I also mentor photographers looking to improve their natural light shooting and specific aspects of their photography business. I’m doing a bit more teaching in 2014 as I will be holding several small photography workshops. I’m super excited about moving in a different direction with my photography and look forward to helping photographers further reach their goals.
Current position and your typical work day
Current position? I’m the owner, so I do pretty much everything . I am a photographer, photo editor, designer, blogger, marketing & advertising manager, social media manager, client manager, and “manager” of just about anything else you can think of. My typical work day consists of a little bit of everything but mostly computer work. Editing photos, blogging, designing marketing material, sharing photos via social media, and client correspondence. I also strive to make time for continuing to improve specific aspects of my photography skills and creative methods.
How have you developed your brand?
I think my biggest thing has been making sure my personality is evident in everything I do… Everything from my photography itself, the wording found on my website/blog, as well as sharing testimonials from previous clients. That way clients/potential clients know just what they can expect from my brand.
Explain the role that your personal brand played in getting you to where you are today.
An effective brand is one where others clearly understand what you do and as a result, are able to “sell” you. That’s honestly how I’ve been able to grow my business- with an effective brand. I gain a lot of new business through referrals. Some from folks who have never even worked with me but who believe in the brand and want to share my work with others. It’s incredibly humbling and I’m continually amazed by how my work has touched so many.
How did you garner press coverage and media attention?
One of my “big breaks” was photographing Mae “Natural Chica” in 2012. Her photos gained so much attention and as a result I was asked to participate in a natural hair show hosted by Koils by Nature. I have also had a few photo sessions featured on Munaluchi Bride and United With Love. Social media has helped immensely.
Personal brands attract opportunities. What has been the greatest opportunity you have gotten?
It’s a recent one actually! Earlier this year one of my photographer friends, Latasha Haynes, asked me to speak at their first annual Blink Conference for photographers in Nashville, TN. I was actually asked to do a breakout workshop on branding and it was a great experience! It was my first time speaking in front of my peers and putting together the presentation really helped my desire to teach grow a bit more.
Who are some of your mentors and why?
I don’t really have official mentors, but I gain a lot of inspiration, motivation, and assistance from my photography peers. I know so many talented photographers and each of them inspire me in different ways; anything from their photography itself to the way they run their business and everything in between.
What were the steps you took in college that impacted your professional success?
I actually didn’t really have college experience that impacted my career. I had a little less than 2 years towards my degree when I stopped but I still had a long way to go- with something I wasn’t passionate about at all, so I was never in a rush to go back. I attended the University of Maryland before leaving to work full-time to help with family responsibilities. At that time I had no idea my artistic leaning would lead me to a photography career.
What would you say to a young person who wants to work in your industry?
Stick with it. You don’t get great overnight so don’t get discouraged when you see someone else’s work and it’s awesome. Let it inspire instead of intimidate and push you to learn/grow that much more. I think the most valuable thing in anything is to love what you do. I am beginning the 5th year at this professionally and I’ve learned tons of lessons during that time, but it always comes back to your passion. If you’re passionate about photography it will keep you inspired, push you to try new ideas, and always strive to improve. And if you don’t feel that way about photography that’s okay- maybe that just means you still haven’t found what your true passion is yet.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
More great photos of course 🙂 Most immediately you can expect more information on the mentoring and photography workshops I will be holding this coming year here in DC as well as cities like Little Rock, Charlotte, and Atlanta to name a few.