Since the time of this interview, Danielle Deraleau has become a finalist in the “Sprint Photography Competition” put on by Photographer’s Forum Magazine. They received over 10,000 entries from 69 different countries, and chose the top 16% as finalists. Danielle’s photo will be published in the coffee table book “Best of Photography 2015”, which will come out this December.
Sometimes people have a special moment where they discover a passion for something.
They pick up a paintbrush, play a note on an instrument, or see an actor in a play and decide that’s what they want to do. For Danielle Deraleau, this moment occurred her sophomore year of college when she first switched a camera to “manual” mode.
“I had considered taking up photography when I was in high school, but always thought it seemed too complicated- there were so many buttons on the camera and I thought I had waited too long to try and learn it. When I came into that first photography class, I was still using my camera on ‘automatic’ mode,” Deraleau said. “But in photojournalism when we went over all the basics, I realized maybe I could actually do this.”
The photojournalism class inspired her to declare a minor in photography, and soon she was doing commissioned work for clients. Her Facebook page, Danielle Deraleau Photography, now has over 180 likes.
“I love photography because I love working with and meeting new people. Every person I photograph is unique, which in turn makes each shoot a different experience,” Deraleau said. “I think photography is perfect for me because it combines a lot of things I love, like being creative and working with people, with a changing environment every day.”
Though she loves portraits and headshots, Deraleau also loves creating fantasy scenes. She’s done a mermaid themed shoot, a “Harry Potter” inspired shoot, and even a shoot inspired by the most recent “Great Gatsby” movie that involved over 20 models.
“I think the Gatsby shoot is one of my favorite group shoots I’ve done to date. The Lofts at Mockingbird Station were nice enough to let me use a penthouse apartment as the setting, and I put out a call on Facebook for models that wanted to dress up in a modern 1920s style. I got a great response. Everyone looked beautiful, there was confetti everywhere, and I was really happy with the final pictures!” Deraleau said.
Deraleau gets inspired creating different scenes and loves to push herself to make each shoot even more visually interesting than the last.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize that there’re plenty of cool places to shoot in the Dallas area if you look around,” Deraleau said. “One of my personal favorites is Deep Ellum. It’s such a vibrant, inspiring place. While walking around I found a beautiful space and took some portraits of my subject in front of that. In all honesty, they ended up being some of my favorite portraits I’ve ever done. The way the lighting and the mural worked, it literally looks like they took place in space.”
Her shoots are not only about bringing a fantasy aesthetic into portrait photography but also inspiring confidence. As someone who was shy and reserved in high school, Deraleau says if she can help inspire confidence in her subjects she’s happy.
“I think everyone deserves pictures of themselves that they love that make them feel awesome. I’ve photographed people before who have said that they’ve never thought of themselves as photogenic. Everyone is photogenic, and I like proving that through my portraits,” Deraleau said.
In the future, Deraleau hopes to grow and expand her photography into a viable business that she can use to earn a living.
“Growing my photography work and my portfolio is my main goal right now. I’m very fortunate to have a sorority full of sisters that support me, as well as great, encouraging friends and a supportive family,” Deraleau said. “Without them all the stress of being a full time student as well as a working photographer, among other jobs, might have gotten to me. I still have a whole stash of ideas for photo-shoots in my head that I can’t wait to realize, and I’m still learning now things about photography every day. I’m excited to see what the future holds for my business.”
To see Deraleau’s work, visit her photography website, or go like her photography’s Facebook page. She is available for portraits or other artistic shoots, and contact info can be found here. She also loves feedback, and would appreciate hearing what you think!