Meet Danica Paulos on Christopher Duggan's Wedding Creative Photography Team!

In Conversation with Danica Paulos on My Creative Team

by | Jan 29, 2024 | Meet Christopher

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!

“I was the Instagram content creator for [Ailey] so I was able to take pictures and portraits, work on my composition, and my storytelling through video and photo. I had these beautiful artists who can do anything with their bodies… It was a beautiful time for me to develop my love for it.”

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.

“I remember I called Nel one day and I was like, ‘Nel, what do I do with my career? 

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.”

Danica was doing weddings on her own, too. When she was working with me at the Pillow, she had recently done a wedding and I was looking at the photos, and I was struck by the vibrancy, the intimacy, the connection that you were capturing in these wedding pictures. It took my breath away.

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

Danica loves photographing weddings, so I asked her, “what is it about weddings that you love?”
“Weddings are about families coming together, and the joy that comes with that. It’s such a big moment in people’s lives, and to be a part of it, share it, and capture it just feels like something that I want to do. I want to dedicate my life to it. I want to be part of that, it’s so important to me.”

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

There is a specific kind of client that comes to us at CDP. I asked Danica, “Now that you’ve worked with some of our clients, can you say something about the kind of client that is attracted to us and why you love working with them?”

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.

“I also noticed that they really, really, really trust you…

…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

I work with a lot of dancers and former dancers, both as clients and on my team. I love working with dancers, because they are so in tune to what we’re doing, and also adventurous and aware.

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.

“Being a performer and dancer really lends itself to helping guide people when taking photos. It also brings a sensitivity, a knowing how people are feeling by reading body language. There’s a deep attunement to the senses of my body and other bodies.”

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:

“I’m really looking forward to the wedding season with the Christopher Duggan Photography team.

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.”

Thank you for chatting with me, Danica = )

Follow Danica on Instagram, and watch the entire Instagram live here!




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