This is the story of a girl who changed her mind halfway through. twice. well actually three times.
For the first half of my college career I pursued a bachelors in psychology. I passionately studied how images in popular media affect a person’s body image and confidence. I completed research project after research project with solid results that indeed, people are negatively influenced by what they see in advertisements. Three years later, the universe was pushing me towards photography. Hard. I unapologetically became the typical change-your-major-sort-of-dropout, packed up, and moved to Seattle to go to the Art Institute; delving head first into what I saw as a chance for a new identity.
I needed it.
Soon after graduating, I got a job offer from a commercial photography studio to be their lead lifestyle and fashion photographer. I enthusiastically accepted the job but less than a year in, all I found was unhappiness and resentment. I truly felt lost. I thought to myself over and over again, “How can I not love this?
This is supposed to be the dream…”
The problem was that it went against everything I believed in. In fact, I was now the creator of the media that I so fiercely detested. When I was younger, I can remember looking in the mirror, seeing a chubby face looking back and thinking “You are beautiful. I love this body. I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I’m amazing just the way I am.” I could feel and see my beauty and strength everyday. But at this point in my story, I was deep into a poisonous career, no longer thinking such positive thoughts about myself or my body.
Something had to change.
Just a few months earlier, I had done my first boudoir shoot on a whim for a friend of a friend. It was absolute magic, I felt my soul light up with excitement. I loved working with someone who wasn’t used to being in front of the camera and watching them blossom before my eyes. I loved the styling and planning. I loved the mix of fashion and portraiture. I loved how creative I could get in the editing and the photography. And I loved her reaction to the photos. I absolutely loved EVERYTHING. I remember having a fleeting thought after the shoot, “Maybe this is what I should do.” I ignored it, but not for long. It planted a nagging feeling that wouldn’t be satisfied until I eventually left my studio job and pursued a career in photography that lined up with both my passion and values.
For the next three years…
I dug deep into a very fulfilling career in boudoir photography. Eventually realizing that while boudoir will always be my first love, my ultimate love is my clients and being able to provide beautiful photography for them over a number of years. No matter the subject, weddings, boudoir, events, portraits, headshots, I love connecting with people. And I love variety. It keeps me fresh as an artist. Always adapting and changing but still staying true to my style and aesthetic. I’ve even found ways to dip my toes back into lifestyle and fashion photography. By working for brands like Universal Standard & TomboyX that champion the body-pos movement and inclusivity towards all humans – LGBTQ+, BIPOC, disabled – I can do all of what I love and stay true to who I am.
10 years later, I stand in the middle of Dana Kae Photography.
I look back at all the awful jobs, stressful long nights, worry and doubt, and see that all of it – ALL OF IT – was somehow instrumental in ending up where I am today and I thank everyone who has believed in me over the years. Honestly (truly) couldn’t have done it without y’all.
With all that I have,