The Photographer Project: Dana Cubbage

Portraits by Diana Deaver

What’s your birthdate? December 12, 1982

When did you first pick up a camera?  Tell me about that.  When did you know you had a talent for photography?  Natural talent or learned process? Photography was always a hobby for me.  For as long as I can remember, I was fascinated with my parents’ Minolta film camera and I was always the kid on field trips with a camera in hand, snapping away.  I got my first “big girl” camera (DSLR) in 2010 and I taught myself how to shoot manually from the beginning.  It completely transformed the way I saw the world through the camera and I was finally able to create images that weren’t just documentary, but also artistic!  Over the next year, I spent a ton of time practicing – mainly on my two Golden Retrievers, Camden + Brady.  I started volunteering at my local animal shelter in Baltimore City to take photos of adoptable dogs for the website.  Through volunteering, I became really good friends with another volunteer photographer who was a full-time wedding photographer in Baltimore.  One day, I asked if I could tag along to a wedding to see what it was like and she graciously allowed me to come along.  I fell in love with wedding photography at that point – but I always envisioned myself as a second shooter.  I NEVER thought I’d be good enough or have the confidence to be a lead wedding photographer!  We moved to Charleston in early 2012.  I was still working a full-time job in data analysis but I reached out to several amazing wedding photographers here in Charleston and asked if I could second shoot with them.  In 2012, I second shot over 40 weddings for other photographers in Charleston and eventually, I thought to myself “maybe I could do this!”  I was miserable at my full-time job, but loved my weekend side-gig shooting weddings.  I was all set to launch my wedding photography website on August 1, 2012 and the day before the launch, I was laid off from my full-time job.  It was a blessing in disguise and the push I needed to pursue my dream.

I have attended several conferences, workshops, and done one-on-one mentoring with photographers I admire – but I have no formal education in photography.  I am completely self-taught!

What do you love to photograph? Aside from weddings, I love photographing dogs + cats (I started off as a pet photographer!!) and landscapes/architecture.

Who are some of your photographer icons and/or mentors? Katelyn James, Justin + Mary, Jasmine Star, Melissa Jill, Amy + Jordan

You get to have dinner with 3 other people, alive or deceased.  With whom would you dine?  What would you ask them? Oprah, Tina Fey + Lisa Vanderpump.  I would just want to hear all about their lives, careers, passions, projects, etc.  They are all such fun, smart, funny women and I think it would be a really fun dinner party with a lot of laughter!

Do you know when you have a spectacular shot, or does that come about in the editing process? You know when you’re shooting whether you have a great shot or not. Unfortunately, there’s only so much you can do in the editing process to “fix” a photo… so it’s really important to get it right in-camera as much as possible.  A lot of it has to do with lighting… so that’s always my first priority when shooting.  Find the good light and you’re almost guaranteed to have a great shot!

What makes you feel connected to your subject? I am really big on communication. When I’m shooting, I’m CONSTANTLY talking to my clients from behind the camera, directing them + encouraging them along the way.  I love getting to know them on a personal level by asking them about their families, plans for the wedding, how he proposed, how they met, etc. Building that relationship is super important in my business because I want my clients to feel like they know me, that I’m a friend and not just a photographer, and that they can completely trust me!

What are your thoughts on editing?  Like it or abhor it?  Do it yourself?  HATE IT!!!  Editing is the WORST!!!  I edit my favorites from the wedding day – the images that will be seen on my blog, social media, website, etc.  Once I am done editing those myself, I send the rest of the photos to my editing team and they match everything else to my edits.  Even though I’m only editing about 300 images from my clients’ wedding day myself, it’s still the thing I dread the most.  I just really hate being a slave to my computer!!

What’s on your photographic bucket list? I’d love to shoot weddings in Italy, Greece, Australia, Bora Bora or the Maldives, Spain, Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard, New Orleans, Napa Valley, Arizona, Key West… anywhere that allows me to combine my love of photographing weddings and landscapes/architecture!!

What inspires you?  Color, texture, nature, architecture, light

How would you handle a difference of opinion with a client?  I’ve learned over the years that it’s wise to pick your battles.  Sometimes you need to stand your ground and sometimes you need to give in a little.  It all just depends on the situation.  I try to be as transparent with my clients as possible so that there are no surprises.  They know who I am, they know what my work looks like, they know what to expect every step of the way… I’ve found that this helps manage expectations and keeps us on the same page so that we generally don’t have too many differences of opinion in the first place 🙂

What advice would you give an up and coming photographer?  Be persistent.  Practice practice practice.  Hustle.  Success doesn’t come over night.  It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears.  Figure out what you love to shoot and don’t be afraid to say “no” to opportunities that won’t help you achieve your goals.  Listen to your gut.  Take chances.  Be kind.

Are you involved in any kind of continuing education or professional groups?  I offer one-on-one coaching sessions for photographers and I also teach a workshop annually with 4 other fabulous photographers!  As far as my own continuing education, I do mostly online workshops, seminars, and training at this point in my business.  It’s just so hard to take time away for a conference or in-person workshop.  But this is super important to me because I’m always looking for ways to improve my craft and push my work forward!

What makes you feel loved?  Snuggling with my pups, holding hands with my husband, a good meal with friends + family, an unexpected text/email/snail mail

What are your favorite conditions/lighting/circumstances to shoot?  Nothing beats natural light in my book!  The more, the better!

What are your social media handles?

Instagram: @danacubbage

FB: facebook.com/danacubbageweddings

Website: www.danacubbageweddings.com

What makes you feel pretty?  Getting my hair + makeup done professionally!  I’m a pretty “no frills” girl when it comes to my daily beauty routine, so anytime I have my hair or makeup done, it feels amazing!! I feel great right after I have my highlights touched up + my hair blown out… and right after my lash extensions are filled.

 Candids provided by Dana Cubbage

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