This week on young+creatives we had the opportunity to interview the one and only Dana Maruna, Wedding, Elopements & Couples Photographer located in Shreveport, Louisiana.
In this episode of young+creatives we cover several key topics including:
- Making the jump from a Hobby to a Full-Time Career
- Keeping Connected with your clients
- Preparing yourself in becoming a Full-Time Photographer
Connect with Dana!
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Marley Walters 00:00
Welcome to the young creatives podcast brought to you by revisione marketing group, young creatives podcast will serve as a platform to promote, discuss and give advice on Millennial creatives coexisting in the traditional job market.
Mikayla Anderson 00:12
On today’s episode, we’ll have Dana Myrna local Shreveport photographer. Talk about how she took a big step into making her full time hobby into a full time career. She will talk about how to find photography locations, the preparation and defining of photography locations, and most importantly, how to start. Perfect already. So welcome back to the young creative podcast with revision marketing group. Today we have Mikayla and Marley and our featured guest Dana, would you like to introduce yourself?
Dana Maruna 00:50
Yeah, um, so Hi, I’m Dana. I am the owner of Dana Maroon photo. I am based out of Arizona and Louisiana as of right now, but I do travel everywhere.
Mikayla Anderson 01:03
Awesome. Perfect. So as you said Louisiana and Arizona correct? Yes. So are you from Arizona? How did you get to Louisiana?
Dana Maruna 01:13
I am from Arizona. I’ve lived there since out or until I was 21 moved out here because I met my husband. He stationed at Barksdale here so that is how I ended up here. We’ve been here for like four years just I actually just hit my four year mark here in August and now we are getting ready to move to North Dakota so
Mikayla Anderson 01:35
Marley Walters 01:36
exciting I’m excited so are you nervous about that relocation How are you feeling about relocating and like building a new clientele?
Dana Maruna 01:44
Yes, I’m I’m pretty nervous about I’m not gonna lie cuz I feel like I just kind of really got my feet up off the ground here about like a year ago so and it’s really been like taking off since then. So it’s nerve wracking because I don’t have any connections or clients out there but in hindsight I do I am a little established so that’s like a good thing I got like an inquiry for a wedding out there already but I had to decline it because I’m already booked that day but I mean that’s a good sign at least My name is kind of already getting out there in a way yeah so I’m excited but I’m I’m definitely nervous I’m definitely expecting to be a little bit slow but I’ll take that time to like seek out models and do like a lot of like styled shoots for myself so I do have like content out there
Marley Walters 02:34
right yeah and then just like I think how do you feel about trying to find areas you do want to shoot like visually and like
Dana Maruna 02:42
so since I will have so much free time when I’m out there I do plan on like scouting a lot of areas I’ve already like saved a bunch of like places in my notes on my phone of like places I’ve looked at and that I want to see so I I’m not too worried about that because I know it’s a really like pretty area and there’s a lot to offer out there and it’s like my neighboring states like Montana and then it’s like South Dakota Iowa so it’s like I’m not too worried about being able to find that yeah like there’s there’s a lot more around than there is in Shreveport so so I’m not too worried about that part of it and that
Marley Walters 03:17
kind of brings me into another question for you How did you figure out your spaces and scenery that you wanted to shoot in Sri for just because it does seem so limited here
Dana Maruna 03:27
I have like two spots that I love going to and it’s like there’s one there’s just like this big open field and like this Neighborhood Development is actually where we were so I love going there it’s just like a big open field and then my other option is actually downtown so I have I it was just a matter of just like driving and like seeing places that I liked and then actually having a shoot there and making sure like I liked it but it’s just a matter of just driving around and kind of knowing what each couple wants because it’s like if they want more of a city I’m not going to stick them in like a big open field or like in a state park. Yeah, kind of sense. So it’s just a matter of doing your research. Yeah.
Mikayla Anderson 04:16
So as far as with the couples and the elopements that’s your primary focus. Yes. And so how did you discover that like what what was your process and being like, Okay, this is what I want to do.
Dana Maruna 04:30
So if I like really like rewind back into my life like my freshman year of high school, I took a photography class and I loved it. Like I learned on film and like we got to develop like our own like black and white prints and everything in color prints like so that was super cool being able to like take the pictures and then develop them and we also got to learn on like digital. So I really, really loved it then and wanted to keep up with it, but like I think it was towards the end of the Someone stole all my camera equipment out of the room, because we were allowed to keep it there. So I did that. And because I because photography was my first hour, and I didn’t want to be dragging all my stuff with me throughout the day, because I was like, I don’t want to break anything, I don’t want to lose anything. Well, you know, and ended up getting stolen. And I didn’t have the heart to be like mom, dad, drop a lot of money and buy me more stuff, please. So I kind of just left it after that. And like I’ve always like loved it. Like I’m taking pictures on my phone and stuff and like, but I really got back into it when I actually moved out here because I have a friend out in Arizona. She’s a well known photographer. And I was kind of talking to her about it. And I was really getting like inspired by like seeing all of her work. And she focuses on like couples and elopements and weddings. And I was like talking to my husband, I’m like, you know, I really want to get back into like photography. I don’t know how to do it, though, because it is very expensive to like start it. So I was like I don’t, I don’t know what to do. And like it was just like every day I’m like, look at this picture. I wish I could do this like just so many like ideas going in my head that I just didn’t know how to like do it because of like the money situation. And then for Christmas, he ended up buying me like my first camera and it was like so that was super sweet. And it was like a little starter camera. So it got me by for like a solid like, eight months. And then it started and get me by it was not working well. But, but I mean it got me It got me to where I am today. So like that’s huge. But I always knew I wanted to do like couples and allotments and everything and just focus on like two people in love. Because if like me and my husband, like, we met through one of my close friends that he went to tech school with and when we met it was just kind of like we met I drove to California to like meet him for the first time I came home for a day drove back out to see him again before he came out here. And I moved out a month later. And then we like snuck off and like got married in this old lady’s living room, like an hour and a half, two hours away from here. So she’s like, ah, and it’s like now we’re like about to hit our four year mark of being married. And it’s just like, I I want to be able to document that for other people because like I love telling our story. Yeah, and I just want to be able to like, I wish someone was there to follow me around essentially, like everything that we do. But um, it’s just something I like really enjoyed doing I love like connecting with people in that way more so because it’s like I show up to a photo shoot. And it’s not just like taking your photos, I’m gone. Like I like to build that connection
Mikayla Anderson 07:45
with them, hence why you’re here. Yeah.
Dana Maruna 07:49
It’s really like, it’s so nice. Like just meeting so many like great people from it. Like I used to be very shy and like, very, like, I did not like talking to people and it’s just like it’s broken me out of my shell. And it’s made me like, a lot more social with people and like I’m still awkward, like, don’t get me wrong, but it’s it’s made it a lot easier for me to like talk to people and like make connections because there’s like that common ground. Yeah, I guess I sense. I don’t even know if I answered the question. No, you
Mikayla Anderson 08:24
know, you did, you definitely did. And so another thing is so when we first shot together, I remember the way you like, seriously made me feel and I was just I was just like so I don’t even know how to explain it. And you told your story about your husband everything and me and Trevor were already thinking about getting married. And the next day I texted you I was like Hey, be my witness that my
Dana Maruna 08:53
Yeah, I I remember that so well. Like it was I remember when you reached out and like we connected like right away and like that’s one thing that I like, value so much and like my clients that like I don’t even like to call them clients, because it feels weird to me like they turn into like friendships. But um, but like when you messaged me, I remember I was sitting on the couch with Connor. And I was like, no frickin way. I’m like, guess what, and then I told them all like remember Mikayla and Trevor. I was like, she’s about to leave. I think it was like two days later or something, you’re back home. And I was like, they’re eloping and she wants me to be a witness and then he’s like, are you gonna go with like, yeah, and he’s like when I was like, like, in two hours Yeah, it’s just it was very cool to be a part of something like that and then still, like be friends to this day. So it’s just like building those connections that are like so special to me.
Mikayla Anderson 09:48
Marley Walters 09:50
I think there’s got to be like a lot of fulfillment. And seeing that
Dana Maruna 09:53
Yeah, there really is like it’s it’s so hard to like explain, but like It just warms my heart like Yeah, when stuff like that does happen and then being able to be a part of like people’s journeys and then them being like, oh, like we want just like couples photos and I was like, oh now we’re engaged. Now we’re getting married like now we have a kid and like just kind of being able to be a part of like, so many people’s lives in these big big moments. Like it’s so special to like, grow like with everyone.
Marley Walters 10:27
Yeah, and I think that’s a big thing for us as young people I don’t know if you can relate but it seems like as I was getting out of school and trying to establish what I wanted to do for a living like all I knew that I wanted to do is was to make a difference in the world. Or you know, try to like bring joy or be that small joy for someone in life and I think it’s interesting because like as we talk about it collectively here on young creatives and at revision like it’s it’s a passion for all of us as young people it seems like yeah, I want to make this like bigger meaning out of what we’re doing and I think it’s awesome you know, like an especially to have somebody on here who’s like oh yeah, like I love doing this this is why I love doing it is because I love making this connection and and making a difference so but into that like what how do you channel your creativity before a shoot?
Dana Maruna 11:27
So pretty much what I do I have this app on my phone it’s called unscripted and it’s like something photographers can buy and pretty much it’s just like, you could save your like you can name your session save it the date, like the whole shebang. And like there’s a bunch of poses and prompts on it so I kind of like go through that and then I’ll save like a bunch of like poses that I’m like I want to try this or like and then so it’s like I do all that and then I send out a couples questionnaire to the couples nice so they could fill that out so it’s like I’m kind of getting to know you guys before the session so I’m not like walking in blind because there are some couples that aren’t like I mean like I’m not like Stick your tongue down her throat kind of person like make out for five minutes like I’m not because it’s just like I feel like in that sense that’d be uncomfortable for everyone Yeah, it’s like it’s me asking like how you guys met like are you comfortable with like PDA because if you’re not like I’m not gonna make you guys like kiss over and over and over again but there are some couples that like love it like some couples love like you know, they’re like that physical touch person and that’s like another thing I’m like, have you guys taken the I can’t remember what it’s called. But it’s like what’s your what’s your love language? Yeah, I’m like what’s your love language and I’m like and if you haven’t taken that mic go ahead and take it and then that gives me more of an idea of how I can properly shoot you Yeah, it’s like I don’t want to make my worst fears to make a couple uncomfortable Yeah, like that’s the last thing I want to do. So I send out a questionnaire and it’s like, I’m checking in periodically up until the session because I don’t just be like okay you booked me cool sweet See you on the day of like, I like to like save my stuff like my poses and everything send out that questionnaire I also like now I have like a style guide that I send out because a lot of couples are like, I don’t know to wear like please help and like now I’ve made like this whole like little brochure of like, Can I have a hard time? But like I have like I don’t know if it’s like wrong to say but it’s like, an aesthetic like my very bad like, why like people like come to me like I’m very moreso like neutral earthy tones, like black and whites and it’s like I’ve kind of steered away from Red i don’t know why i just like I’ve tried to like there was a moment like last year where like, you definitely went through that mode where it’s like every couple showing up in red like the girl man like said like red dresses and I’m like lipstick like it was not that it looked bad it just like it was sticking out a lot. Yeah. And it was taking away I felt like from the couple because it is such like a bold color. Right? So it’s just like earthy neutral tones are always my favorite. And then it’s like I’m always like, don’t show up with like a big logo on your shirt hats or sunglasses because that’s distracting and it like essentially takes away from you guys and like that’s the last thing we want. Like, I don’t want you paying all this money for photos. And then it’s like, these aren’t capturing like it’s not capturing it because it’s like you’re like a bright neon shirt or whatever. But I’m always like, if that is you guys 100% show up and whatever you want, like I’m never gonna tell a couple No, but like, here are my suggestions and like, here’s what I know fits my aesthetic and I’m assuming that’s one of the reasons you’re coming to me is because you like what you’re seeing kind of thing, but it’s like I had a couple and like love them to death. I just shot their elopement at the Taco Bell Cantina in Vegas in May. And they are the most like outgoing fun, like bold people essentially. And she like they showed up to their engagement she was wearing like a tie dyed jumper. And I’m like, I frickin love this. And I’m like, and then she switched into like a more like, dressy outfit, because I always give you two outfit options. So it’s like, if you want to wear like that bold tie dye once I do that, like if that captures you guys, like I’m never gonna tell you no. But um, so yeah, it’s just sending out all those things. So I could learn to get to know the couples and then just kind of keeping in touch with them up until then, and then, you know, obviously night before I’ll make sure my memory cards are all there and like, clean and then charge my batteries, get all my stuff together. So I’m not frantically running around my house like 30 minutes before stress. Cuz it’s like I like you live in your learn. Like when I first started, like, I had no idea what I was doing because I taught myself essentially like everything I know today, like I’ve luckily like I’ve had a few friends that are photographers and have been photographers and like, took me under their wing for a little bit. So I got very blessed in that sense, where I got to learn from people that have already been doing it for so long. But that was probably within like my first like six months and then kind of from there. I just I don’t know what happened, like COVID honestly happened and I thought that was gonna like be the end for me. I was like, Oh, this isn’t gonna work as a COVID. But once COVID hit like it actually like, that’s when I really started to like, take off. I don’t know how that worked. But yeah, and it’s like, and I’ve made so many great friends along the way on top of it. Like, I’m hosting my own workshop in Utah with two of my close friends that are photographers, and I met them at a workshop like a year ago now superclub, it’s like, I forgot, I lost my train of thought,
Mikayla Anderson 16:59
No worries, no worries. So I think the biggest thing I have for you as a photographer is so you have your pre session guide. Yeah. And then you have your Okay, this is what I’m going to do at the shoot. But what about after how do you maintain that creativity? How do you? Yeah, you have to add it lots of editing.
Dana Maruna 17:21
A lot like editing, like more than half the job I feel like is a lot of work. Like I love editing a lot I do but I’m very impatient. So when I get home, I’m like sending you guys teasers within like 24 hours. And I give myself that wiggle room just in case something happens like within, you know, 15 hours or whatever. But I honestly I go straight home, I import all the photos because like, my worst fear is for like my card to corrupt. And then I have to go back to my couple and be like, we have to redo this, I lost all your photos like I don’t think it’d be that bad. If it was a couple session like it would still suck. But to have that happen at like a wedding. Oh my that would be like my worst fear ever. But I have a camera that has like dual memory slots. So if my one card does corrupt, it’s backing up on everything else. So it’s like, I don’t really stress about that. And then I have like my backup camera that’s on me. So it’s like, those bases are for the most part covered now. But like Same thing with like weddings elopements or couple sessions, like I’ll go home backup all the photos and two hard drives, because I’m paranoid that one hard drive will corrupt. So it’s like I’m backing these up wherever I can. And then like I import them into Lightroom, which is what I use for editing. And then I’ll go through everything. Delete, like all the like, double photos I take because I’m a big, I’m just gonna, I like to take a lot of photos because I like to get all those like candid moments in between. So I have lots of pictures normally throughout my sessions. But it’s just a matter of I’ll do that. I’ll go through everything. I’ll try to send teasers from kind of like each portion of like the session, if that makes sense. Or like the wedding day, I’ll normally send like for couple sessions I’ll send out like about 10 photos. And then I always say like 30 minimum photos at the end of this. You’ll have them all back within four weeks is what I do for a couple sessions. But I’ll give you 10 photos and then it’s like normally within like three weeks at the most for the most part. I do have all photos out and it’s like if we have a good session which I haven’t had one word it has not been a good session. Like you’re getting way more than 30 photos for me like there are some times like I’ve sent over like 100 photos for like a couple session. Yeah, and that’s just I think that’s just a big part of like building that connection beforehand because a couple is not awkward when they get there and it’s like I’m playing I play music on my phone when we’re there so there’s no like, I don’t want there to be any awkwardness and it’s like I’m always talking and You know getting to know the couple always being like you know what do you guys do today what do you do after this like Are you guys excited because the girls are always pumped
Mikayla Anderson 20:08
Dana Maruna 20:10
it’s always it’s always the guys that are like nervous or like awkward but always have it yeah or in like always at the end of it they’re like you know I had a really great time like I didn’t think it was gonna go this way but we like I had a great time so it’s always really nice hearing that from the guys because I know I know the girls are like all about it like I know they’re all about it but and then yeah, it’s just setting aside the time to edit but now that I am doing photography full time and I’m not trying to balance another job in between this it’s been a lot easier for me to find that time because I would go from working like eight hours a day and then I’d go home and edit for like five more hours so it’s like it was very it was a lot on me because it’s like I was constantly working it felt like and then like weekends that I’d have off from my other job it’s like I’d have shoots or I’d have weddings on like that Saturday and then it’s like Sunday I’m like editing all day. And it’s like I didn’t really have the time I feel like I wasn’t able to put my all forth because I was trying to balance another job but I was finally able to leave that job in January and it’s like now I’ve been able to do so much like I’ve been able to make like my style guide my pricing guide I’m working like on my wedding guide like I’ve made my website exactly like how I want it to look and it’s just like I’ve had so much more time to like plan out Instagram posts and everything because that in itself is like a lot of work. I didn’t know how much work Instagram was going to be honestly. But it’s like it’s a whole there’s an entire process but the editing part of it it’s like probably it’s like I mean other than like the session itself it’s like my favorite thing to do because it’s so fun to like, see what I took behind the camera and now I’m able to edit it and like put my like artsy like feel into the photo.
Team RMG 22:13
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Marley Walters 22:54
so what’s maybe something that you want to tell some like anyone who’s listening who is young and may be feeling discouraged about you know taking something or a hobby full time
Dana Maruna 23:03
and just to not doubt yourself that was something I did a lot and do not like my biggest biggest thing is probably to never compare yourself like don’t like compare yourself to someone that’s been doing what you’re trying to do for like 1520 years it’s like they started somewhere to like we all start somewhere but like my two biggest things is like don’t doubt yourself don’t compare yourself and it’s just like just keep keep doing you and keep like pushing forward because you’re gonna have those times of self doubt you’re gonna have times when you’re like why am I doing this but as long as like in your heart if you know like this is something you love this is what you want to do like you’ll like you’ll be able to push through because I’ve like I’ve went through those times where I’m just like, because I would go without bookings and it’s like I started to really really doubt myself I was like am I not good enough no one’s booking me I’m putting myself out there like I don’t know what’s going on. And then like all of a sudden out of nowhere I’d get like six wedding inquiries and like four of them would book Yeah, so it’s like it’s just you’re gonna go through those dry spells you have to learn like with whatever it is that you’re trying to do like you’re gonna have those slow seasons or those like slow months. So it’s just learning to figure out when those are adapt to them and just when you do have those slow times like really like kick it into high gear with like learning how to like be better in like your business. So just never giving up like that’s my biggest thing like don’t give up Don’t doubt yourself, but it happens but if you have a good support system to like you’ll, you’ll be fine. You’ll be fine.
Mikayla Anderson 24:45
Well that’s great because honestly like having you as a photographer my elopement couple session now another one in September and just knowing that hearing For a client, right, knowing that you do make a difference in other people’s lives and you really do a fan freaking tastic jobs like I showed them your Instagram before this and they were all like perfect like, Thank you, God, but awesome well thank you for coming on the show. And if they want to inquire about your photos where would they go?
Dana Maruna 25:28
So all my apps my Facebook my Instagram they’re all at Dana Marina photo. All one word. And my website’s Dana Maroon of photo calm. I have a tick tock. Yeah, I take I’m trying to make that like an up and coming thing. I’m waiting for that one video to like, blow up. Now that’s a tic tocs definitely kind of like on the backburner. It’s not my biggest, like, focus right now. But um, all my apps are the same thing. Just my first name, my last name and then photo.
Mikayla Anderson 26:04
Yeah. Perfect. Well, awesome. I look forward to having our session in September.
Dana Maruna 26:11
I’m excited, but I’ve gotten better since then.
Mikayla Anderson 26:15
Well, thank you so much for coming. And yes, thank you for tuning into young creatives. Marlene mckaela. Dana. We’ll see you soon.