Design Aglow's Senior Week 2015: Meet Dan DeWaard of Hatch Photography

Welcome to Day 3 of Senior Week 2015! We hope you are enjoying it and gleaning as much inspiration as we are. This morning we're getting to know Dan DeWaard of Hatch Photography~

You rock the wide angle lenses. Tell us about what’s in your gear bag and what your favorite go-to lens is.

My gear consists of:

2 - Canon 5DII
1 - 35L1.4
1 - 50F1.4 Sigma Art
1 - 24-70L 2.8
1 - 85L1.2
1 - Leica M9
1 - 35F2.0 Summicron
1 - Polaroid

The camera I go to the most for portrait work is the Canon 5DII paired with the 50 Sigma Art or the 35L.  For my wide angle shots I use the 35L and for the close-ups I use the 50 Sigma Art.  I love shallow depth of field so I shoot majority of my shots at F2.0.  Depending on my client and style, I will use the Leica M9 with the 35F2.0 Summicron. I absolutely love this camera! It gives the images a more raw film like quality right off the bat, but the downside is that it can be a little unpredictable on how it renders skin tones. The Leica 35 Summicron is the sharpest and my favorite lens; it takes surprisingly amazing portraits.

Your processing is so delicate and consistent. Do you use actions or presets? Tell us about your post-production process.

I have gotten several emails asking about my processing and shooting style. I use primarily VSCO filters for my photos in Lightroom (mostly the Fuji 400 & Fuji 800 in Pk 1). I do majority of my editing in Lightroom and export it to Photoshop if the image needs skin touch-ups or any other cloning/healing needs. I try to not to alter my images or my clients face/body too much.  I use the healing brush to edit the skin and try to retain as much the original skin as possible, only removing blemishes.  I don’t brighten up the eyes separately or soften up/airbrush look the skin, to me it looks too fake. The final look of an image truly does start in camera.

I’m a natural light photographer who loves back-lighting and shooting at sunset and dusk.  Consistency is such a difficult thing to master. The best way to achieve that is to find your style and try your hardest to be true to it. There are so many great photographers out there and it’s easy to find yourself trying to render or shoot like them, and once you start giving more attention to their style than your own, your consistency of your work will start to suffer.

We really love how you shoot senior guys. Sometimes guys can be awkward in front of the camera. What do you do differently with them, when shooting?

I appreciate you guys loving my style and especially my senior guys, but the irony of it is I maybe shoot 1-2 of them a year.  I’m more known for my Senior girls.  

The biggest thing for me when shooting any client, male or female, is to gain their trust. It really starts at the root level: the way your logo and website looks, the gear you use, the way you dress and the way you present yourself. I feel that my biggest quality as a photographer is that I’m shy and could be considered to have social phobia, which is kind of crazy if you think about it. But once I get behind the camera, all those worries and shyness goes away. Because of that, I am super conscious of how I am making my clients feel and never put them in a situation or have them do something that just isn’t them. Some Senior girls will have more of model poses vs the next, for example. It just all depends on their comfort level about themselves.

I also have my seniors come alone for their sessions. I have an awesome female assistant, Kelsey Chance, who comes with me to take away any “old dude photographer and young High School girl” weirdness. I have found is that parents, especially moms, make the seniors the most uncomfortable throughout the session. All the mom has to do is give her son or daughter a certain look and it will throw the senior off for the whole shoot.

I love the sincere look and try to never force a smile from my clients…because they will naturally smile or laugh throughout the session. Building trust, making them feel like they are the most important thing and being completely honest with them is a must for my style of shooting. To achieve a posed but not posed look, I used to subscribe to Teen Vogue. I know, that sounds a little weird! A 30 some year old man would subscribe to a teen fashion magazine? What? But  what I would go through page by page and circle all the small details - hand placements, direction of eyes, placement of feet, etc. I did this for about a year straight, hoping that it would build memory muscle so when I was with a client it would just come second nature to me. So I guess in a long roundabout way, this is the same approach I take to the senior guys.

One of the first things I tell every client is that the first 5-10 minutes is for me, to get situated and get my camera dialed in, and after that we will be off and running. I think telling them that allows them to relax a little, instead of them feeling like the first picture has to be great, and it gives them a little time to warm up to me and the camera. I also get them walking and talking right away so their body relaxes, and then usually I’ll have them stop and take couple quick shots.

I also start small with the poses and build upon that. The best technique for me is I have them looking at their shoulder - I call that the starting point. Then I have them slowly look up at me while I take their picture. I have them constantly do that simple thing throughout the session but at different angles, etc. With guys it’s more about finding more masculine backdrops, and having them do little as possible as far as posing goes. I will guide them with little tweaks by moving their shoulder this way or that but nothing more. I don’t use a reflector or any external lighting; it causes more tension and anxiousness with my clients, especially the guys.


Daniel DeWaard of Hatch Photography has a passion for his family and their life in the Pacific Northwest. He is a devout husband to his wife Tracy and an extremely proud father to their daughter January. Daniel believes in keeping life simple and honest and carries that mantra into his photography. You can follow him and his adventures in the PNW, @hatchimages. See Daniel's work at

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