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Meet Jeff and Kathryn Dannay of Sweet Light Photos in North Scottsdale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeff and Kathryn Dannay.

Jeff and Kathryn, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Our story began many years ago with Kathryn’s father. He was an avid amateur photographer who was very popular in the local community of Sudbury, MA. As an opportunity to spend more time with her father Kathryn immersed herself in the world of digital photography. It wasn’t long before her husband, Jeff, felt the competitive juices flow, joining the two on this journey. Unfortunately, her father passed away but left a parting gift, all of his camera equipment. The journey now had a major jumpstart but with one hiccup. Along with this equipment also came numerous exhibit commitments.

It was certainly a “trial by fire” experience for us. We gathered his photos and collateral. Then an idea came to us. Could we also exhibit our own photos? Were we good enough? We inquired with the exhibition lead about this possibility. To our surprise we were accepted to show some of our work. We were off and running. It wasn’t long before we realized that one exhibition didn’t mean we were good photographers. We had the passion and desire but not the skills. We dove in with on-line tutorials, workshops, and the Professional Photography Program at the New York Institute for Photography. Most importantly we took a lot of photos (and bought a lot of camera gear).

It wasn’t long before we started combining our love for travel with our photography. Instead of traveling to see the world we started seeing the world through our lenses. As we continued to travel, we lucked upon a website where a couple traveled across the United States in a RV posting and sharing their travels online for their family. This seemed to be a great way for us to document and share our experiences. We threw together a website and wrote our first post in March 2013.

Our passion and hard work paid off, as we have both received numerous awards and have been published by various organizations including Arizona Highways, Audubon Society, and Photoshop World. We routinely receive the comment, “You should be published in National Geographic”.

We have traveled the world and continue to do so. Our blog now contains over 300 stories from four continents (Asia, Europe, USA and Africa), and over 30 countries worldwide (Kenya, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, United Kingdom, Iceland, Greenland, Scotland, and on and on). Our journeys are followed by family, friends, and hopefully, you.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It is very rare to achieve success in any endeavor without significant challenges along the way. Our challenges took the form of both marketplace and personal.

The photography marketplace is ever changing. As soon as we started in one direction, we quickly learned we were far behind the curve, many other photographers already doing what we thought would be unique. We could have named our company, “Me too”. There were so many travel blogs. Some focused on the photography while some focused on the location. Some did a good job focusing on both. We needed to come up with a different path while still encompassing travel with photography. We soon found our niche; we became storytellers. When something funny, sad, interesting happened, we wrote about it including images that supported our theme.

Over the years, we ran up against some health issues that severely curtailed our ability to travel. Jeff ran a successful software company and Kathryn a home-based web consulting company. The photography and travel bug pulled greater and greater until we decided to ditch our companies to pursue photography (and travel) full-time. This sounds like living the American dream, pursuing our passion. Except health got in the way. Two large breaks in our photography, Kathryn now a two-time cancer survivor. We are finally healthy and working toward living the dream.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Sweet Light Photos story. Tell us more about the business.
We are first and foremost a photography company, selling fine art prints, giving presentations, and hosting private workshops. Feeding these aspects is our ability to travel the world, learning new cultures, and capturing them in photos and words. Our claim, and it is true, is guiding our clients to the right place at the right time to capture the best photo possible. We do this primarily in the U.S. Southwest but can span the globe if desired. What sets us apart, making us unique in the crowded marketplace, is the ability to accommodate people with dietary restrictions, especially gluten-free.

Pricing:

  • We offer customized workshops ranging from a half day to a multi-day photography journey. Pricing includes fees, two photographer instructors (us), snacks, starting at just $250. Please contact us if you are interested in a photographic journey.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jeff Dannay, Kathryn Dannay

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