Frances F. Denny
Both sides of my career are equally important to me--my freelance work benefits from my perspective and training as an artist, and my art work has been strengthened by the skills I’ve learned as a freelance photographer.
I am fascinated by image-making, and the ever-changing role photography plays in the world. Pictures tell stories, and photography is the language I find most expressive. There is something more nuanced about a picture than a sentence—it leaves room for a viewer to wonder.
WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
Earning my MFA at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) helped me solidify what I care about as an artist in ways that informs and benefits my art and my freelance work. Before grad school, I worked at art galleries, at W Magazine as a studio photo assistant, and I assisted other photographers to learn the ropes of my industry. I also started my own arts magazine with some friends and did logistics as a member of President Obama’s Advance Team from 2010-2012.
FOR OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR FIELD, WHAT DO THEY USUALLY LACK?
It’s rare to find commercial/editorial photographers who also have a successful art practice. Usually it’s one or the other (or the commercial work is just a means to an end). I have a gallery in New York City (ClampArt in Chelsea) that represents me, and I just published a monograph of my work—but I also shoot for The New Yorker, Architectural Digest, and Elle and manage regular commercial fashion work from clients like MM. Lafleur and Trunk Club.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Look-books! I love collaborating with brands on conceiving editorial shoots for new collections. Sometimes these are fairly straightforward product shoots, sometimes they get super conceptual. Working with clients to determine their needs, hopes, and desires for new visual content is exciting for me.
WHAT'S YOUR STYLE/PERSPECTIVE/TASTE? DO YOU HAVE A PROJECT THAT REPRESENTS THIS?
My work as an artist examines female selfhood, and the various factors that impact the development of female identity (check out the links below to view my last two series). The majority of my freelance work involves photographing women in some capacity, whether it’s a street-style portrait, a formal portrait for a magazine, or models for a look-book. My perspective and sensitivities as an artist influences how I approach all of my subjects.
"Let Virtue Be Your Guide" (a series of photographs about the women in my New England family)
"Pink Crush" (a series of photographs about 90's girlhood)
WE ARE ALL SLASHIES WITH MULTIPLE SKILLS, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD DO MORE OFTEN?
I definitely can’t count this as a skill yet, but I really appreciate excellent graphic design. Design makes all the difference in how ideas are conveyed across media. I wish I had time to take a design class myself!
WHAT IS FRUSTRATING YOU RIGHT NOW?
A trend I've noticed on Instagram is pictures of pineapples in incongruous places-- it's like the new cliché for quirk! But what actually frustrates me, work-wise? Probably the never-ending need to feed my social media channels, and the uncertainty I routinely have over whether the things I post are too personal, or too professional--or that there are too many pictures of my dog, Darcy.
IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?
Clean out my storage locker and archive all my negatives. But I wouldn’t wish this task on my worst enemy.
LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?
Don't be afraid to follow-up with people who express interest in your work. It can be daunting to follow-up over email with someone who asks to be kept in the loop, but I've found some of my best opportunities have come from a second or even third (polite!) follow-up.
IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
I'd be curious to speak with a web designer/developer about how to make my website more effective at representing both sides of my work (commissioned work + personal work).
WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
Editorial assignments (especially portraiture), look-books for clothing or jewelry brands, specific branding content/visuals, and still life or product photography.
DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL JOB/CLIENT/COLLABORATION.
My ideal collaborators are companies, brands, and publications looking for creative photography and thoughtful visual content. Send me to shoot a story about lobsterwomen in Maine. Or let's make new images of your collection of hand-thrown ceramic bud vases. Or let's work together on your label's next marketing campaign.
WHAT IS YOUR HOURLY RATE, RETAINER, OR SALARY RANGE?
I have a full-day and a half-day rate. Shoot me an email at email@example.com and I can give you specifics.
HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up a time to meet or pow-wow on the phone.
HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE?
Museums, writing, and artist self-help.
LASt ONE, WHo's in your go-to squad?
Catherine Duffy, art director and graphic designer extraordinaire! We met at RISD and have since collaborated on many projects. I trust her taste and design sense completely. Email her at email@example.com (you won't be sorry).
This member profile was originally published in November 2016.