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Dani, the animal lover behind TVD-Photography’s astonishing photos, is a 26-year-old Australian photographer. She may not work at a zoo, but she certainly knows her way around both a camera and the animals she works with. To find out how such close-up and touching animal photos can be captured, Dani agreed to do an interview.
Toonari Post (TP): How and when did you first start practicing your art?
Dani (D): I first tried out and borrowed a friends camera in 2005 and found that I quite enjoyed taking photos so in 2006 I bought my first small camera, I didn’t last long with it as people on DA recommended I get myself a proper DSLR. So I must thank the people of DA who gave me the advice and support to move forwards.
I am also a self-taught photographer. I’m very stubborn and refuse to pay hundreds of dollars for someone to tell me how to use my camera. There is just so much on the internet to use as resources for free.
TP: What piece of your work is your favorite and why? Which one are you most proud of?
D: This is always a really hard question for me as I have lots of favorites and am proud of a lot of my work, too. I know I can keep improving on it, but I have taken so many it is hard to choose just one of each but I’ll do my best.
Favorite: Mostly because I love cheetahs and I love the look on her face.
Proud of: I’m proud of the composition I got in this one and it just looks so natural and like it was not taken in a zoo, even though it is.
TP: When you first started did you ever hit any bumps in your art process. What were they and how did you overcome them?
D: Okay, here’s a story for you. When I first got my DSLR I obviously didn’t know how to use it to it’s full potential yet. I was using the auto setting a lot of the time and it was a 400D so if it was dim the flash would automatically come up. When taking photos through glass you do not want the flash going off. Since I couldn’t figure out how to stop this I would put my hand in front of it so I wouldn’t get the flash. I had missed a great opportunity to get good photos of very small tiger cubs because of my inexperience.
So after that experience I went home and started looking up how to use manuals and what all the settings were. I had pretty much started to learn that just because you have a DSLR camera it doesn’t automatically make you a photographer. I started using and practicing with the manual and after that my photos started improving. I really enjoy using the manual and playing with all the settings now.
TP: Who or what are your inspirations and why?
D: Animals are my first inspiration. When I look at other photos or just go to the zoo and watch their behaviors I always feel the need to photograph them.
Other photographers on DeviantART have also been my inspiration. When I first started with zoo photography I would always look at *Sooper-Deviant‘s profile for inspiration and, in fact, I still do.
TP: Have you ever had to deal with a situation where someone else took credit for your work? If so, what did you do to resolve it? How did this art theft make you feel?
D: Well I don’t get art theft on my work as often as others, I always watermark and don’t make my images too big. I think this discourages people a little. I see my work in blogs, on Tumblr and other sites and I don’t mind as my name is kept on the images and sometimes links back to me.
I have seen my work used without permission, though, a few times. Usually I will ask people to give me credit and if that fails I do report it so it’s taken down. Admittedly, depending on the severity it does make me angry, thankfully no one has tried to sell my work though.
TP: What is your favorite subject to photograph and why?
D: Animals, of course. I love to capture their emotions through my photos and I love to share them with others, especially those who have no chance to see these animals in person in the wild or in a zoo. I’m always happy when I’m photographing animals.
TP: I notice a majority of your photos are of animals. Which is your favorite and why?
D: Cheetahs are my favorite. You won’t see many in my gallery since our zoo doesn’t have them. I love their cute little faces, I love their speed and I love that they’re different from other cats.
TP: What are some difficulties in taking photos of animals? Can you describe your process of getting the perfect shot?
D: Well I mainly do zoo photography so my challenge is to get the shot looking as natural as possible. No fences or man made objects. Most of the time I am able to do this. Another challenge is also to get emotion from the animals so patience is a must. Also I think about my composition and what would be visually appealing.
TP: I see you have hundreds of pictures! How do you find the time to take such breathtaking photos?
D: Well, I’ve been doing photography for a few years now and have traveled overseas visiting various zoos twice. In fact, I have plenty more photos to post, which will last me for the next few years! But originally, I was visiting the zoo almost every weekend taking lots of photos.
11. If there was any art medium that you wish you could master, what would it be and why?
Well if I could just draw anything from cartoons to real life drawings and be able to color and shade them I’d be pretty happy. I seem to have a hard time when I try and it takes me hours. So it would be nice.
TP: Outside of art what is your life like?
D: I live quite a boring life, photography is what gets me out there doing things. I do enjoy staying in and watching movies, going out to dinner with friends and traveling and meeting new people.
TP: What are your goals in life? Do you plan to continue art as a hobby or make it a career?
D: My main goal in life is to just be happy and do things that I love. I do photography as a hobby and it will probably stay that way however I do sell my prints online for anyone who is interested. When I sell something it’s just a bonus.
Image Courtesy of http://tvd-photography.deviantart.com/