Photographer Interview – AJ Dunlap
The photographers we get to work with at Post Partner are our biggest inspiration. They’re artists and friends and we want to share their talent with everyone. Today we’re chatting with AJ Dunlap about how important community is, and her new adventure, Darling Wedding Workshop.
One of the best parts of the photography world is the community. The more we get involved, the more we realize that photographers actually believe in community, and helping each other instead of competing against one another. And, we’re all about that!
We fell pretty hard for AJ quickly after we first started working together. She’s the sweetest thing you’ll ever meet, and also has images and a developed editing style that are timeless and classic. Just recently, we were honoured to sponsor her latest workshop for her new business Darling wedding workshop. It’s a place for creative women in the wedding industry to be inspired, learn, and grow in community.
NOTE: If you’re interesting in attending a workshop like Darling wedding workshop, let us know! We’re a part of a few amazing workshops happening this year, and we’d love to get you connected. If you’re creating a workshop or a photography event to inspire, educate and build community, tell us! We want to be a part of what you’re creating!
AJ, we’re so thankful that we get to work with you! Thanks for inspiring a community of women, and inspiring us!
Q1. Who is AJ Dunlap?
I’m a 30 year old mom to an adorable little girl named Adeline, half of a husband and wife wedding photography team, encourager to women creatives and founder of Darling Wedding Workshop. I’m an extrovert to the extreme who writes like she talks which means I use way too many exclamation points!!! My happy place is with my family, outdoors, exploring life together, and watching our dog be his crazy self.
Q2. Something you’re very passionate about is helping other creative business women. Why is this so important to you?
Community is everything. So many people poured into me, and molded me into the photographer I am today. I believe it’s our duty in life to give back. I’ve always had a passion for empowering women, and to me there’s no better way than helping them run their own creative business! There’s nothing like the feeling you get when you see someone you helped succeed! It’s addictive!
Q3. Tell us a little bit about Darling wedding workshop?
Darling Wedding Workshop is an intimate workshop for creative women. Together we’re building a community that uplifts, encourages, and empowers. Running your own business can be so lonely. Darling gives these women friendships that last way longer than the 2 day workshop, and hopefully make them feel a little less isolated in the over competitive wedding industry. Our workshops are also a hands-on experience. The first half is about building and running a successful business, and the second is all about putting into practice what we’ve learned through styled shoots, live model shoots, and more!
Q4. How has mentoring other creatives, and starting this workshop changed your view on the photography community?
Mentoring other creatives has made me realize that we all have the same struggles. None of us are alone in this journey! It’s made me realize that if we all communicated openly, we wouldn’t all have to make the same mistakes, and could learn so much faster from other’s experiences!
Q5. How has mentoring other creatives, and starting this workshop changed your view on the photography community?
Teaching & mentoring filled a void for me, I knew sort of existed, but it wasn’t until after my first workshop that I knew I needed this as much as the attendees. I finally feel like I’m living my whole purpose!
Q6. Why is community so important in a creative field?
We all need people. Some need people more than others, but we all need a community. Life is too precious to go through alone. Whether your community is 1 person or 100, having someone believe in you and lift you up, will take you so much farther than you could have gone alone!
Q7. Recently you wrote an amazing blog post called I am an artist”, and the struggle to find your artistic voice in the face of comparison. What has been your conclusion in terms of walking that line between finding your own voice and staying away from comparison?
The feeling of being an artist is by far the hardest struggle I deal with personally. I’ve always felt confident about being a business owner, wife, and mother, but the title of artist has intimidated me. I attribute it to that awful comparison game so many of us do when we hop on social media. It’s hard to separate yourself from comparing someone else’s best to your worst, but we have to do it or it’s going to squelch our creativity! By writing that post, and committing myself publicly to being an artist, I’m holding myself accountable to living that way. The moments I create and capture are truly art. They’re unique and beautiful all in themselves. Sure they don’t look like that image I saw and loved on someone else’s account, but that’s what makes it art! It’s my art. I created it, therefore I am an artist! As is each and every photographer/creative reading this!
Q8. What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with comparison?
Put down the phone! Log out of social media for a few days, weeks, months, whatever you need to light your fire again. And go create something!!! Grab a friend, head to a field and shoot away. Flex your creative muscle, find your confidence again, and stop comparing your worst to someone else’s best!
Q9. What does photography mean to you?
These moments we capture are fleeting. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. We can’t get them back. But photography stops time. It freezes those little moments that are so, so priceless in life. Having a child has solidified this feeling even more. Every day she changes. Without those pictures, I’d have nothing to remind me of how she’s grown!
Q10. Top 3 interesting facts about you?
1. I was married at 19! Crazy, right?! We were so young and immature, but we knew we wanted to be together forever and didn’t let anything stop us!
2. I didn’t go to college! I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, and didn’t want to waste money trying to figure it out. I’m so glad I didn’t because I wouldn’t be a photographer! My favorite subjects at that time in my life were math & science, not art! There’s no way I would have found this field that leaves me so fulfilled every single day!
3. I almost always have a house project going, and it usually involves a piece of old furniture and a paint brush!
Q11. Why do you choose to outsource?
Because I need a life! I need quality time with my daughter and husband, not my computer. Outsourcing has given me so much of my life back, and allowed me to focus on areas of my business that I love more than editing, like hosting a workshop!!