An Interview With Myself
I think we’ve all had that dream of being interviewed by the likes of Diane Sawyer or Barbara Walters and pouring our hearts out so that people could really, truly understand us and love us. Well, my dream actually has Tamara Lackey doing the interviewing, but I digress. The thing is, I decided I needn’t wait for someone to interview me! I have a blog, which is really a perfect way to tell people more about me and to answer all of those questions that I get asked all the time. So let’s dig in, shall we?
RD = the interviewer
Me = the responder (I hope that’s not too confusing!)
RD: So, Becky… may I call you Becky?
Me: Yes, of course!
RD: Well, I guess my first question is why your business is named Rebecca Danzenbaker Photography instead of Becky Danzenbaker Photography?
Me: Oh, that’s easy. Rebecca sounds much prettier than Becky; however, I’ve been called Becky my whole life. When I was around 10 years old, my mom wanted me to switch and start going by Rebecca, but I wouldn’t have it. Now I think, well, it wouldn’t have been horrible, but I still feel like a Becky even though I love the sound of Rebecca Danzenbaker. It sounds so very Gloria Vanderbilt to me. My maiden name was Smith, so I love having such a unique last name.
RD: Okay, I get it. So, how long have you been a photographer?
Me: My whole life. Ha! No, I really mean it! I have memories from very early childhood of composing photos before I even had a camera! I would love to take my dad’s camera and pretend to take photos. I’ll never forget my first camera – a pink “Le Clic” with disk film. I would roll through those disks like crazy just taking the silliest photos. I always said I wanted to be a photographer for National Geographic when I grew up.
RD: But when did you get serious about photography?
Me: In late 2005, my husband, Mark, gave me my first DSLR for Christmas. He had seen me drooling over some random tourist’s camera when we were taking an excursion to the Grand Canyon. I may have whooped out loud when I opened it – A Canon Digital Rebel XT. The first thing I did was read the entire manual. I had never owned anything so wonderfully sophisticated, and I had no idea what the controls did. I wanted to understand it completely. Then I read a second manual that my father-in-law gave me, and I even bought a third manual (for the same camera) and read that one cover to cover! Next, I signed up for a composition class followed by some college-level photography courses. One day a couple years later, I snapped some cute photos of my nephew and my sister sent it off to her friends over email (this was before Facebook). One of them responded right away and asked if I would take photos of her own family. Wow! My first paying gig! I was a nervous wreck but loved every second of it. I incorporated my business in late 2008!
RD: You focus your photography on only newborns, families, and maternity. Why is that?
When I started my business, I tried lots of different photography, but I found I enjoyed the family photos so much more! When I went full-time in 2013, I was able to cut out the photography that I didn’t enjoy as much and stick with what I love.
RD: It seems like weddings would be a good fit, too, why don’t you photograph weddings?
Me: I did photograph a wedding once. It was a fun and successful shoot, but also exhausting. I have two children and want to spend time with them on the weekends, too, so it’s hard to give up an entire day that I could be hanging out with them. If you’re looking for a wedding photographer, I know several local photographers that I would recommend without hesitation.
RD: How would you describe your style?
Me: Simple, timeless, elegant, clean, but full of emotion, love and laughter.
RD: Are you a natural light photographer?
Me: I’m a beautiful light photographer. I can work with any light, but I want my clients to look good, so I’m not above using a reflector. I definitely use a soft box (or two) with my indoor/studio work. My work improved by leaps and bounds when I started using light modifiers.
RD: What do you love the most about being a photographer?
Me: It’s perfectly suited to my personality. I’m a borderline introvert/extrovert, so I love getting out and meeting people and being social, but I really enjoy the time spent editing and writing, too. It also plays to both my intellectual and creative sides.
RD: What’s surprised you the most about being a photographer?
Me: How expensive it is. I took a business finance class two years ago and realized that I only get to keep 30% of every dollar I make. I remember the sinking feeling I felt when I realized how much I was actually making at the time – much less than minimum wage. 70% of my income goes to taxes, equipment, insurance, props, dues, editing software, website, marketing and advertising, education and conferences, and actual costs involved in producing professional photography products (prints, albums, canvases, etc). If I didn’t love everything about photography and what I do, it would not be worth it, literally.
RD: Have you ever been discouraged along the path?
Me: When I was first starting out, I had one client not very happy with a few of the photos I took. I felt horrible when I read her email and couldn’t sleep that night. Self-doubt is a crushing thing! We spoke the next day, and I offered to come back for a few additional photos that we had missed. She was thrilled with the new ones! Overall, it was a fantastic learning experience for me, but it took a ton of courage to get back up on the horse and try again.
The only other discouraging thing was how long it took to grow my business into a full-time career. I feel like my friends started rolling my eyes for every time I said, “maybe just a few more months, and I can quit my day job.” There was about 18 months in there that I average 5 hours of sleep a night while I tried to balance a full time job, freelance work, studio work and my two children. I am so relieved that is behind me and am beyond grateful for everyone who supported me on the long journey.
RD: Anything else you’d like us to know about you?
Me: I feel like all roads in my life have led me here – from being a teller in high school and learning about banking, to being an elementary school music teacher and interacting with children, to becoming an account manager and practicing excellent customer service, to directing the team of account managers and learning about business management. I truly feel like I was meant to do this. I love helping people to create memories and am thrilled that they will look at my photos for years and generations to come. I am positively honored by each client who chooses me. Thank you so very much!