When Heather and I sat in on Dawn Shield’s presentation at WPPI, we weren’t expecting what we got. We’d heard she gave a good talk and we had the evening free. What were we expecting, you ask? A good talk from a talented photographer. What did we get? In a word: Inspiration. We laughed. We cried. We cried A LOT. We were moved. We got chills. We were amazed. And we were also stunned by how real, down to Earth and humble Dawn was after having given a talk that evoked such emotion.
Shields won the WPPI Grand for her album, Legacy, in 2010 – a chilling story about her journey discovering the true identity of her beloved grandfather. She is a living example of how cultivating and pursuing your personal photographic projects can not only catapult your career, but also your sense of self. We couldn’t wait to speak to her after her lecture and invite her to contribute to the Betty network, and we are truly honored today to share with you her “conversation” with us here in this Industry Interview.
What are your specialties?
Looking through my lens and finding the story, I try not to limit myself to being any certain “type” of photographer.
Are you a morning or an evening person?
Depends if I’m in Vegas or not.
Coffee or Tea?
Coffee, cappuccino to be exact
Something that’s overrated:
The term “rockstar”.
Something that’s underrated:
What did you have for lunch yesterday?
What are the blogs/websites you visit daily?
I am passionate about…
My children. I hope to raise them to be strong confident adults who are empathetic to others while always having their own sense of self.
To tweet or not to tweet?
Tweeting is not necessary for obtaining clients but is a fun way to stay in touch with others in our great industry.
Why did you become a photographer?
To photograph my own children. I never had intentions of owning a photography business. I am so happy that I ended up where I am though!
Tell us about your very first shoot.
All my first shoots were of family and friends, so they were happy with anything I did no matter how bad it was….love is blinding
What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
Success can be hard on friendships. As my success grew in the photography business it was very hard on a couple of close friendships. I wish I knew how to have made them confident that I was not “too busy” for them. It was hard watching friends I loved distancing themselves because they felt we were no longer in the same place in life. Not being a stay at home mom like them seemed to change the dynamics more than I ever thought. If you love your friends make sure to make special time for them. When you are embarking on a new journey without them, its very hard for them to not feel on the outside.
What is the secret to balancing your role as business owner and the role of mother/wife?
Being a mom and wife has to come first. I always take my kids to school and pick them up. I do not want anyone else there besides me when they need to talk about their day.
When it comes to being a wife, an evening out just being adults really helps us to connect and not to forget why we fell in love with each other so many years ago. My family is where I find my true happiness – my career is an artistic outlet that fulfills a small part of me that my family cannot.
What inspired you to create and launch Metropolitan Bride Magazine and how has it affected your photography business?
This is a hard question! I knew our area deserved and would embrace a regional publication with a “national feel”. The effect on my photography business is that I now have two jobs. So my time is not 100% dedicated to photography but also to a publication and bridal expos. That has been a change for me but I love both companies!
Personal projects are an important part of your life (Legacy, Rhema Marvanne). Can you offer a bit of advice to photogs on making time for these valuable journeys?
Do it! Its a career changing moment. You will go in a photographer and come out an artist. It is the best thing I have done for myself.
Top 5 things on your photographer’s wish list:
1. Non-stop beautiful weather
2. A self cleaning desk
3. My own personal jet (no delayed flights!)
4. To be independently wealthy so I can shoot every session for FREE!
5. Oh…and a 50mm 1.4
What is the most rewarding & what is the most difficult about being a photographer?
Most rewarding? Making people feel beautiful and happy in their own skin. When people look at images of themselves and love them, that is when I feel so good about sharing the gift of photography. The most difficult thing for me is that I’m an “in the moment” type of a person. Photography requires me to make appointments to be artistic in the future, that is a really hard thing for me. I have to find ways to get inspired because “planning” to be in that artistic place is not realistic for me.
Times they are a changin’…where do you see the wedding industry in 5 years?
Booming! People are still going to be getting married and photography has been an important part of most families lives for a very long time, I don’t see that changing now or anytime in the near future!
Love learning about Dawn? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to hear her give her amazing talk here in our neighborhood!