Mom Boss of the Month: Danielle Guenther

This month's Mom Boss is an extremely talented photographer and artist. She is beautiful, funny, a kick-ass and FUN, mom, and a great friend. Hate her yet? Too bad she's actually super nice too!

Our area has no shortage of photographers to choose from, and the styles, skill and pricing differs greatly for each. What is one thing you think people should know before hiring a photographer?

First off, there are so many amazing local photographers in the area. Deciding on a photographer is a tough thing to do! However, if you do some research there are some things that will help you.

1. Find your style. Do you want lifestyle, portrait, classic, or documentary?

2. Find a photographer who you vibe with. Personality is huge.

3. Decide on a package. All photographers offer all sorts of packages. What is your end goal? Do you want prints to be included? Do you want files to be included? I always say this, you’ll either pay up front for a full package and have EVERYTHING included….or you risk spending a lot after the session with buying prints and other add-ons.

Every photographer has their own packaging, I just love the easy, breezy one step package! Then, you can choose where to print (Adorama is my favorite) and save money! We all want different things, so it’s great that all photographers offer different packages! It’s not right or wrong, we’re all just different, which is great because life would be boring if we were all the same!

You are a self-taught photographer, and yet one of the most talented ones we know (yes, that’s a plug!) How would you describe your style, and what do you think was the most influential in getting you there?

Well, thank you! That’s very kind. I’m definitely a lifestyle photographer, but also I love documentary as well. I allow the moment to unfold, but it also takes a little bit of direction with the families to get them in the moment. Not everyone is comfortable in front of the camera straight away, and I understand that. Photography is a very intimate and personal experience, so sometimes it takes a little while for people to become comfortable. I love just playing with the kids for a while and getting to know them. Once they’re comfortable, you’ll get the shots you want. If the kids are sad that I’m leaving after the session, that means it was a success...haha! I used to be a nanny in NYC and I always hijacked the mom’s camera and took images of the kids. That’s when I realized how much I loved being behind the camera and directing a little bit.

The staged BEST CASE SCENARIO photos. They are amazing and some BIG time publishers are taking notice! How much prep goes into one of these shoots and how does a family get involved if they want to?

These are my ABSOLUTE favorite. The gasoline to my fire! It’s art. It’s a conversation piece. It’s YOUR STORY. Every story is different. I want that story to come to life. It’s honest, raw, real, UNIQUE, funny, and TONS of fun to create. These take weeks to months to create as I really want to get to know the family. There is a lot more planning that goes into these, but all fun planning! I feel like a detective in the planning weeks, as I’m trying to figure out the family’s story. When it’s time to create the image, it’s a lot of acting and a ton of fun. Time just flies by after having children, and it’s also very chaotic during that time of your life. I want to freeze those moments, so you always look back and laugh at those. These crazy moments will be missed someday. Before we know it, they’ll be off to college and we’ll be returning into a quiet house wishing we had the screaming, running, whining children in our house throwing toys at us again. These days are numbered and these ‘scenes” I create with the family keeps these moments alive forever.

What was the best business advice anyone ever gave you? What was the worst?

This is a hard question, because I probably didn’t listen to them, haha! I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum. I’m sort of a rebel at heart and love a challenge. If you say up, I’ll say down just to play around with something different. So the worst advice was probably someone telling me to do it a certain way! The best advice I was ever told was, “Be you, and don’t worry about anyone else.”

What is your funniest mom-fail moment?

I can’t believe I’m about to admit this, but when my son was 2.5 years old, I unlocked the car to go somewhere, buckled him in, shut the door, and realized the car was running and the doors were locked with him in it (and my purse/phone). I had auto-started the car while I was in the back, and the doors automatically locked after I stepped out to get in the front! I had to borrow some teenager’s phone and called the cops. They were there in 5 minutes and broke into my car. My son was inside laughing the whole time. I was so embarrassed. I really couldn’t decide between this story, or the one where my son rode the elevator alone (he didn’t follow me out with all my groceries one day), and I had to run down to the doorman and look at the cameras to find which floor he was on. Someone returned him. OK, now I’m crying from laughing.

As a photographer mom, you must have millions of photos of your kid. But we all know how important it is for mom to be IN the photo & create memories. How do you make sure to get photos with your son, and what is your advice to moms who need some assistance here?

Bribery? Just Kidding! Well, kinda. My son only wants to be involved if there’s some funny scene happening. So, I’m always trying to come up with some crazy idea. I’ll also use a self timer sometimes. But, that’s hard for it to feel authentic. But, really, ever since I started dating my boyfriend a year ago (yes, I said boyfriend, and, damn, am I happy!), he’s been SO involved with snapping photos of me and my son. So that’s been huge, and for some reason, my son will listen to him when he says “Get in the photo”. Haha!

You are beautifully open, honest, and incredibly positive about your life after divorce. Is it because of your zen-like personality or is there something that helped you get to that place?

“Zen”? Oh boy, I’m not zen all the time, but I definitely try to be! Our divorce was a mutual decision on both our parts. We knew we’d be better off friends. We handled it in a very mature way. We went through lots of therapy to come to that decision, it was a lot of “swallowing our pride” to get here. We’re amicable, and both wanted the best for each other and our son. I tried to stay as positive as I could through that process and it was definitely a challenge as it was a major life event. More of those details are in my post that I wrote. But I truly believe your heart and soul know the answers. They’re already within you, you just have to listen. Nothing in life comes easy…but the hardest times will give you the biggest growth. When times are tough, know it’s temporary, let yourself FEEL, and then you’ll heal. When times are amazing, ENJOY EVERY DAMN SECOND. I have a lot of positive people in my life. I’m very very particular about who I let in, and I just adore “my peeps” (you know who you are). I feed on positive energy from people, and feel as if the more positive, supportive, and REAL people you have in your life, the better your life becomes!

Let’s talk about your son. He seems pretty adventurous and willing to go along with your silly photo requests. How do you balance the silly mom and the mom who means business?

I’m pretty open with him. I’ve always spoken to him like an adult. The thing I say to him is this: “First, I am your mom. THEN, I am your friend.” He understands we’re a team, and if he doesn’t do his part, and I don’t do mine, NOTHING WILL WORK. Don’t get me wrong though, he fights me on everything. So, there are a lot of “conversations” behind every decision we make. I’m sure my neighbors love hearing those convos.

What is your favorite thing about raising a family in Hoboken? Where are your go-to spots?

The ability to hit up five thousand parks in one day? That’s pretty awesome. I also love how family-friendly the city is. It’s just so walkable, and really so beautiful to be able to look out and see the most incredible city at our fingertips. Best waterfront around! I love Bin14 for a great glass of wine (or whiskey) and a nice easy dinner.

A day in the life of Danielle. Go!

Hmmm, some typical things I love, or will sometimes do in a day? Biking with my son, hanging on the beach in Montauk (that’s been our summer so far), living behind my camera, editing, editing, editing (one of my favorite parts of photography), coordinating sleepovers for my son (I’m his social manager), long conversations with my girlfriends over the phone, laughing my ass off with my boyfriend, NYC, listening to podcasts (GAHHH I love Oprah’s super soul podcast), BATHS, coffee, coffee, coffee, painting, writing music, singing, journaling, YOGA. Lately, I’ve been collecting driftwood and making art projects with them. It’s been so fun. I love anything creative and artistic. I get bored easily( huge flaw of mine), and I’m ALWAYS overthinking everything…so I’m always trying to stay busy.

Be sure to follow Danielle on Instagram at @danielleguentherphotos and subscribe to her site to see promotions, amazing photos, and her blog posts!

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