Recently at Moyo we’ve had the great pleasure of collaborating with creatives across the globe, including the incredibly talented photographer Dani Rendina.
Living on the multicultural East coast of Australia and boasting Italian heritage, it’s safe to say that food is in Dani Rendina’s blood. Its colours and textures have long been a source of inspiration for Dani, who shot the beautiful images for The Robyn Collection. With a background in the wedding industry, Dani clearly has a natural flair for styling and The Robyn Collection shows this off perfectly. With its floral displays, sumptuous draped linen and minimalist rustic tablewares, these exquisite images sit very proudly in the Moyo library.
As part of our Contributor Spotlight Series, we caught up with Dani to learn more about the beautiful soul behind the lens and the journey that led to taking the leap into becoming a freelance photographer.
We’d love to know whether you’ve always worked as a photographer or did you initially come from a different background?
I “accidentally” uncovered my passion for photography when completing a marketing role several years ago. I was responsible for taking photos for various marketing activities and soon realised how much I enjoyed it. Seeing one of my first ever photos of a steak and beer on a big pull up sign drove me to buy my first camera! I also studied event management at uni and currently still work casually in the wedding industry. It’s a nice balance having my creative photography job through the week as well as some social interaction at events on the weekend (working solo can get lonely at times!).
At what point did you take the leap to start your own business and become a freelance photographer?
I have had a camera in hand for several years developing my skillset, but only recently become a freelance photographer (8 months ago). I delayed the leap from enthusiast to professional due to the old “not good enough” “not ready” story many of us tell ourselves. As well as being a mother to two young children, it’s only of recent times that i have had the extra time to devote to building my business.
How has your business evolved since you launched, what’s the journey been like so far?
The early months of any business involves lots of opportunity for growth. In the beginning I took on all photography jobs, but quickly realised committing to a specific photography niche serves me best. I have tried my hand at family portraits, maternity etc. but it’s not where my greatest passion lies. I have found my best work is created when I am really passionate about a subject and for me that is product and food photography. Just like anything in life, if you love something, you will always have a hunger and desire to keep learning, evolving and growing that area.
What does a typical day look like?
As a working mum, no two days look alike! It’s straight into school lunches, a quick mummy moment (my ritualistic cup of tea in the sun!) and we are off and running to school drop off. My youngest and I will head down to the park for a play and then I usually get into my photo projects whilst the morning light is at its best. Working from home offers so much flexibility and is such a blessing when you are also juggling young children.
As a night owl, some of my best work is done when the house is still and quiet and I can soak into my evening with some editing, or catch up on admin. I love ending the evening with some self care time to unwind which usually includes a tea and a kindle book.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Working with a visual medium I look through lots of magazines, recipe books, perusing Instagram and Pinterest. Studying composition, colour and lighting mainly.
Working in the wedding industry part time, I am lucky to stay abreast of what’s trending in florals, colours, table wares and styling which also helps with my creative pursuits and styling.
I absolutely love wandering around homeware shops, antique dealers and local ceramic pottery studios. Sometimes just stumbling across one unique prop can inspire a whole photography project. And of course inspiration in food (all those colours and textures!). Whether it’s eating out, scanning interior colours at a restaurant or analysing the plating and styling choices made by a chef. When I’m cooking at home, I find that I’m always asking myself ‘how I would style this dish, if I was photographing it?’.
You specialise with food photography and also working with conscious living brands, we’d love to know more about this and how you find your ideal clients whose business resonate with your own values?
For me personally conscious living is having an awareness of your environment and the choices you make in both your daily life and business practice. This may take the form of being more environmentally aware when buying products/producing goods, being aware of the ways you spend money each day, your personal health and wellbeing practice and ethical business practice. Some of the brands I have worked with are producing environmentally sustainable products, offering partial proceeds of profits to charities, offering organic and natural products to the marketplace and all have an ethos of responsibility and authenticity.
Most of the time when I come across a brand or business I resonate with, (who are creating products that interest or inspire me) I will reach out and connect with them and let them know what I love about their products/brand and give them a little info about my services. So far it has been a very positive move. I put all of my heart into my work, so it’s equally important that I am also inspired by the client and the product too.
What have been your highs and lows of your freelance journey so far?
Hands down my highs have been the people I have met along the way. Connection is so important to me and I love getting to know my clients story, their interests and hear about what inspires them. I truly have the most friendly, down to earth and heart centred clients.
I 100% believe that in order to to up- level your skills and business you need to invest in yourself. In the last year I have had the great opportunity to work with industry renowned mentors and photographers and talented chefs. All of which have inspired and supported my craft. The challenges I have experienced are balancing work and raising children. It’s a total lesson in surrender, some days I have a plan of action that can change form instantly with the happenings of young children and changing needs. There is no 9-5 working day. Some days I’m shooting photos at 4am in the morning before the kids wake and others taking a quick nap in the afternoon. I wouldn’t have it any other way though!
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned as a freelance creative and do you have any advice for those wishing to take the leap?
My biggest lesson has been building confidence. I completely understand the imposter syndrome you hear of today. I have worked with a business coach and many mentors who have helped me to identify the areas I struggled with in my business and I have devoted time and resources to those areas. At first I struggled with pricing my services, so I sought out a professional to guide me in that area. Investing in yourself is so valuable and I believe critical for success. I have learnt to put myself out there more, say yes to what scares me and learnt to say no to what doesn’t feel aligned.
My advice would be, remember you don’t have to know it all, seek out people to support you as you navigate this time. Another tidbit of advice that I once heard that is so true, ‘don’t wait, start where you are – someone out there needs your gift’.
If you could go back in time and give the younger version of yourself advice, what would it be?
Make more mistakes along the way! You are learning and stretching yourself. Don’t let the fear of failure hold you hostage from the vast array of opportunities available to you. Also….eat more cake whilst your metabolism is at its best ha!
On your days off, tell us what a perfect day or weekend for Dani
would look like!
My perfect day needs only three things….Food + Environment + Connection
My heart is fullest when I’m eating something yummy in a beautiful natural space with my favourite people. That’s my idea of a day well spent. Whether it be a picnic by the beach, or a hearty meal and cuppa by the fire…chatting, laughing and sharing stories. I grew up in an Italian family so we always connected over food! I’m also very interested in sound meditation so a sound bath would top that off as the most perfect day.
What’s next and what do you envision for the future for your business?
My next step is to move more into restaurant photography, there is a plethora of amazing restaurants where I live just between Byron bay and the Gold Coast. I have a strong background in hospitality so it feels like a natural progression for me. I have also been learning more about videography and would love to include that into my services soon.
Dani’s photos can be seen in our Robyn Collection which is now available in the library. If you are interested in becoming a contributor to Moyo, you can find out more about available opportunities here.