Ashleigh: Tell me about yourself and your background. 

DL: My name is Danielle Leyow, I’m 22 years old, and I’m the photographer behind Danielle Samantha Photography. I’m a 2011 graduate from the University of the West Indies with a bachelor’s degree in Media and Communication.

Ashleigh: Did you study photography or are you self-taught?

DL: I’m self-taught. Most of what I know I’ve learned through trial and error, but there’s still so much I don’t know that I would love to take some lessons on.

Ashleigh: When and how did you decide to become a photographer? What does photography mean to you?

DL: I’ve loved and appreciated photos for basically all of my life, or at least as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until I was 12 years old however, that I discovered that photography is what I really enjoy doing. My first camera was a Fujifilm point and shoot, and I would go around frantically taking photos of all my friends and family members. At some point you literally couldn’t see me without a camera being pointed at your face. I took photos of everything; from insects, to flowers, landscapes, animals, patterns, sometimes even garbage on the side of the road. However its people that I really love to capture. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen a lot of landscapes that literally take my breath away, but I just don’t think its for me. It’s the people that really bring a photo to life in my opinion.
For me, photography is a way of capturing the beauty that’s all around us, even when its sometimes hidden. But its also about conveying a message; the most powerful images are the ones that speak to us, that evoke emotions that we wouldn’t expect to get from just viewing an image.

Ashleigh: What type of cameras do you shoot with?

DL: I’ve shot with a Nikon D60 and a Canon Rebel T3i, however the camera I use most often is a Canon 40D. His name is Dimitri :p

Ashleigh: If we looked in your camera bag, what would we find?

DL: My Canon 40D, a few lenses (18-55mm, 28-135mm and a 50mm), battery charger, a couple batteries, UV filters, lens cleaning kit, USB cord and some memory cards.

Ashleigh: Define your photography in one sentence.

DL: Portraiture that has people looking their best while staying true to themselves.

Ashleigh: What has been your most memorable photoshoot and why?

DL: I think it would have to be the Certified Divas shoot that I did for the Observer, which can be viewed here: . It was the first time I had to set up my own lighting, and with all the artists watching…it was completely nerve wracking. But I made it through, and I think the pictures came out great. So that experience taught me not to be afraid to try new things and to just have faith in myself.

Ashleigh: A website you visit often is?

DL: Google :p If I have a specific concept in mind, I like looking at what other people have done with it, and I especially love when I see that no one else has interpreted a concept the way that I have. They say that there’s nothing new under the sun, but people’s interpretations can surprise you.

Ashleigh: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you build your dream home?

DL: I think New Zealand. If you’ve seen any of the Lord of the Rings movies then you’ll know why. Its absolutely gorgeous.

Ashleigh: Any advice for aspiring photographers?

DL: Just try different things. You never know what will work for you unless you try. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and don’t lose confidence in yourself. Remember that you put a part of yourself in every photo you take, so stay true to yourself and do what you love.

View some of Danielle's work below: