In Conversation with Danica Paulos on My Creative Team
I recently went live on Instagram with Danica Paulos, a lead photographer with me at Christopher Duggan Photography.
She also does a lot of her own photography work.
Danica is a wife and mom of a beautiful boy, and a former dancer with the world class Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, with whom she danced for seven years!
Danica has been working with me and Nel for several years now.
She first joined the NSP team at Vail Dance Festival, and then she joined me two summers ago as the Assistant Photographer at Jacob’s Pillow.
P.S. the Jacob’s Pillow 2024 Assistant Photographer position is currently open! More information here…
From Alvin Ailey to Photography
I asked Danica how she made the transition from being a world-class dancer to this new profession of photography.
She shared that she was already cultivating her photography skills while she was dancing with Ailey!
When she knew she was ready to retire from dancing professionally, she decided to start taking photography and videography more seriously. That’s when she connected with Nel, and worked with her at Vail.
Nel said, “Every time you talk about photography, you light up and get so excited, why don’t you talk with Christopher?’ That’s when I went to a couple of weddings with you to assist. The transition felt really organic but I also had you and Nel to help guide me into that.”
The pictures just felt like they had this experience to them. You can really feel the energy in Danica’s photos.
On top of her artistry, she is so kind, conscientious, curious, and such a hard worker, always wanting to learn more. All of these qualities drew me to her, and to asking her to be a part of our team.
A LOVE OF WEDDINGS
All of that is reflected in her pictures. It’s easy to see.
People come to us at Christopher Duggan Photography, of course, because they see the pictures and they love the pictures. But it’s also the experience that my team and I create.
It’s in the way we bring a smile to the wedding day, a sense of calm, and a sense of ease and flow. We can be assertive and make things happen when it’s time to do that, but we do it with grace and efficiency, and we know when to step back and simply allow things to happen.
Danica’s genuine love of photographing weddings makes all of this come so naturally to her.
CONNECTING WITH OUR CLIENTS
Danica shared that it’s great to work with our clients because, number one, they really care about the photography. The memories are important to them, and it’s clear they’ve prioritized the documentation of their wedding.
…It just leaves so much space for play and creativity, and that’s why I think all the photos are so joyful and beautiful, because they feel so comfortable with you and us! They’re able to just let go and they know that they’re taken care of. I feel this every single time.”
I was so touched and happy to hear this from Danica, because it’s so important to me.
While we were talking, one wedding that Danica and I worked on together popped into my mind: Robyn and Alex’s wedding back in October.
This couple really put the trust in our hands and rolled with it, and were game for anything. We were having fun! The pictures turned out incredible. You could see it in the photos… there is this sense of trust and relaxed, fun play to it all. It really shines through!
Danica’s dance background
Given Danica’s impressive professional dance career, I wanted to know how it influences her wedding photography, and I discovered that it really comes down to storytelling with your body.
I loved getting Danica’s perspective on this.
I always think about about the energy of the movement in photographs versus static poses, and how to get the emotional element to read through the camera. I never really thought about a dancer’s ability to read the body. What is it saying? What is it NOT saying? What does it need?
To have that extra keen sense of awareness… I’m going to have to think about that!
I am so grateful to have Danica on my team.
She shared these touching words:
You bring this calm energy to the clients, the couples… I once saw you pull a groom aside when he was stressed… you were like, ‘Hey, man, what’s going on? Are you doing okay?’ You were able to be there for him, and that allowed him to center himself again. Then you took some portraits and carried on.
The ability to sense that he needed a moment, and to know that you could be that calm person for him… I just really loved that. I’m really looking forward to working with you, continuing with the team, meeting the couples, and just having a great season.”