We had the good fortune of connecting with Danilo Hernandez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Danilo, what do you attribute your success to?
I believe that the most important factor about my success of brand is the people I get to work with. Without the team, I work with and my amazing clients I wouldn’t be where I am today. There are times where I want to photography something or try a new technique and my clients are totally up for it. I think that level of trust is very important when it comes to being successful.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Well, I started off by learning some form of journalism in High School. From there, I learned film making and really fell in love with cinematography. I took what I learned in journalism and pretty much applied it to my film making and wedding work. A lot of the time I had to get really good at using the light that I had available to me. Sometimes I had a lighting package and sometimes I didn’t. For weddings, my approach is really simple. I try my best to take as many candid photos as possible. I look for great light around me and try to place my subject in that light. Of course It doesn’t happen like that all the time, but it’s a technique I use to really help me. I also try my best to take shots from completely different angles. I sometimes shoot through windows, reflections, shadows and some double exposures. I say my style has a warm cinematic look to it.
I think what I’m proud of is the fact that I try my best to understand and feel what my clients might be feeling like on a wedding day, or try to read and understand a scene that I might be shoot.
Im happy with where I am today, and all the hard work that has gone into making my brand and style. It definitely wasn’t easy. I remember back in college I use to take photos of all my classmates shorts films. I really like the set photographer position and from there I meet someone who asked me to take photos at an event. From that event, I got another gig and act. Until eventually, someone asked me to photograph a wedding.
Honestly, I was really scared to shoot weddings. All of my work was usually events and set photography, I knew a wedding was a different beast of its own. But I said yes, and it went okay… I think. I learned a lot and definitely improved on what I felt needed to change.
There were definitely a lot of weddings that I was learning as I was going. The one thing that really helped me improve my work was getting to learn from other wedding photographers. I teamed up with a friend who at the time did weddings, and he kinda trained me on the dos and don’ts. I also read and followed other wedding photographer in the industry and learned from their experience.
I’ve learned to plan ahead and to always communicate with my coordinator and to be as present as possible. Things change, and they change really quickly. You need to know what to do in case the weather changes, or you run out of light to shoot with. Sometimes all I’ve had was just an office room to take photos. You might think that an office room isn’t great for photos, but you will be surprised on the types of shots you can get if you think outside the box.
For my wedding work, I really do enjoy being around people and being with people who are celebrating love. I love a good love story and getting the chance to photograph such a big event in peoples life’s really makes me happy. I enjoy being able to be one on one with my clients, getting to talk to them and hear their story really helps me figure out the best way to approach a wedding day. I’ve had clients who love rom-coms or love stories or love a great adventure, and that kinda sets the tone for the day. It also dictates the way I shoot.
But most importantly, I try to never move away from my one rule, and that’s to make sure that each wedding is as natural and authentic as possible.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh man, this is really hard, especially here in LA because there’s just so much to do. I would say that the first place that comes to mind is Disneyland. Who wouldn’t love to go to Disneyland right?
But aside from there, I’d take them to Santa Monica pier, take them on a good hike and drive around town.
I wish I could say I know a lot of great places to eat or places to go, outside of the normal tourist attractions, but I don’t. I do spend a lot of my time working, and usually all the amazing places that I do discover and visit are because of my weddings.
But I’m sure I’ll be able to plan something if I needed to. I did grow up in Palm Springs so that would probably be a great place to start. From there, we would make our way up the Palm Springs tramway. Then make a trip to Joshua Tree, and move our way over to the Great Canyon and stop over in Vegas before making our way back to LA.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would say that there are a few people that definitely helped me move in the direction I am today. I’ll start by recognizing my good friend Don Cunanan. He really helped me in so many ways when it came to my love for photography. He trained me and taught me so many techniques, not only do we talk about photography and videography, but we talk about business too. He’s like a big brother to me, so when he has something to say, I listen and really try to learn as much from him as I can. Another person that’s been such an amazing help to me and my business is another great friend and collaborator. His name is Mark Nazal. I met Mark back in college when he first approached me to work on one of his VFX projects and short films. Working with Mark is always challenging because he’s constantly pushing me in new ways I didn’t think of. Our projects have gotten more and more complex that there are times when we meet up and really try to figure out how we’re going to approach a scene or shoot. I remember when he approached me about a very special project called, “Carmina”. This was a project that we had started back in college and slowly developed over several years. Being an Emmy Award Winning Visual Effects Artist he’s definitely taken the original “Carmina” idea to a whole new level. I appreciate Mark for constantly reaching back out to me to collaborate on his new projects or just to meet up and talk.
But Don and Mark aren’t the only people I own my success to. There’s a full set of other people that truly deserve a shout out for always pushing me and challenging me to do better. One of those people is my amazing fiancé. I think that without her help and support I probably wouldn’t have been doing what I do. She constantly pushes me to do better, to always keep moving forward. She’s extremely tough on me and she should be.
I also have to give a shout out to, Cat Torres, April Audia, Sam Hurd, Pen Weddings, Jay Maturan. All these amazing people have really helped me to be who I am today creatively and professionally. I owe a lot of my success to them.”