Danny Owens
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Blog

This is a blog of Portland photographer Danny Owens. Featuring interviews with artists, makers, and creatives as well as showcasing recent photography work.

How I Got Here - My Collectively Story

I often ask myself how I got to where I am... which often leads me to ask myself what it is that I actually do?

I've worn so many hats over the course of my 4 year long creative career that it's hard for me to place a single title on the work I do.

I've worked as a graphic designer, photographer, social media content creator, project manager, production assistant, and creative producer... and I'm sure there's others that I'm forgetting.

This isn't something I regret, honestly it's something I'm proud of. I earnestly believe creativity is an ever changing journey, you're always going to be learning and growing. And that growth might take you in completely different directions then you had ever planned.

At the beginning of my creative journey I happened upon social media. Honestly, a lot of luck and coincidence was involved with my social media growth which eventually led me to have the opportunity to work within the "influencer" arena on instagram. And from the beginning, Collectively was a part of that journey.

I was given opportunities to work with large brands that I would have never imagined possible.. and through each of those projects I grew immensely as a creative. I've worked on projects for Patron, Naked Juice, Jawbone, and others. The way my friends over at Collectively empowered me to take on projects I wasn't sure I was ready for, really propelled me forward towards new heights!

Now as I'm around 4 years into my creative career, I'm able to look back at how far I've come and the changes and growth I've made.

For instance, I can look at these 2 pictures, one taken in 2014 and the other in 2017. I can find the flaws and mistakes in both, but also the good choices and the accomplishments.

I've learned a lot throughout the countlest projects I've worked on, the countless times I pressed down my shutter and the countless hours spent in front of my computer editing deep into the nigiht.

Over the years I've given advice and shared what I've learned...and it usually has nothing to do with camera gear, exposure settings, or editing techniques. I think thats all subjective... what I think is really important when pursuing a creative career is the kind of individual you become and how you approach growth.

So these are my 4 pieces of advice to leave you with:

1 - DIVERSIFY

It's not enough anymore to just be a photographer. Everyone from your mom to your barista can pick up a camera and take a decent photo because of how technology has advanced and the prices of gear have come down.

So you have to do more. You need to find other avenues of creativity to supplemnt your income as well as to supplement what you bring to the table as a photographer. Explore stlying, art direction, cinematography, etc. What is going to set you apart from the other photographer who just started and is going to undercut your rates?

2 - BE HUMBLE

Photography can become a very flashy career... it looks cool. Theres no denying that. But one of the quickest way to ruin your reputation or turn people off is by being arrogant about what you do. A little bit of attention from a awesome photo you posted online can really boost your ego. Believe me, I've made that mistake personally a few times.

At the end of the day you are still pursuing a trade and offering a skill to your clients. Be humble and you'll find that people want to work with you and you'll surround yourself with a much more collaborative and positive environment.

As Kendrick perfectly says: "Sit Down... Be Humble".

3 - ASK QUESTIONS

You can always learn something new. And the moment you think you're above asking questions is the moment your career will become stagnant. 

I've sent emails to photographers I look up to numerous times, and more often then not I've gotten positive responses that have helped me grow immensely. If there's someone out there you really want to learn from, take that first step!

4 - THINK BEYOND SOCIAL MEDIA

I really want to emphasize this... INSTAGRAM ISN'T THE END ALL FOR PHOTOGRAPHY!

Instagram content isn't the pinnacle, it's barely even scratching the surface of the real professional world of photography. Too often I see a trend of photography being belittled to just being content for social media. Posts that will maybe hold someones attention for a couple of minutes... Hobbyist photographers blowing up on a platform simply by following visual trends that are essentially clickbait.

If you want to be a photographer... GREAT! But please invest in pursuing a career beyond posting pictures of pretty girls and waterfalls on instagram. There are so many more stories to tell and images to capture.


I truly hope this blog post and advice was of some use to you! IF you have any questions at all, I would love to answer them! Shoot me an email at hello@dannyowens.co

- Danny

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