Profile: Travel Photographer Dani Ashley
Travel photographer Dani Ashley has followed her passion all over the world. Dani has ventured as far north as Iceland and she’s also toted her camera to the turquoise waters of the Maldives and Seychelles. Travel Dreams caught up with Dani and asked if she’d share some of her favorite photos, as well as her travel photography story.
Where are you based?
I am based on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, on Hatteras Island.
How did you get started in photography?
My love for photography started when I was 16 years old, photographing sunrises and sunsets. However, ten years later, I experienced my first international travel, and was blown away at the sheer beauty of the landscapes surrounding me. I started researching different destinations all over the world, and decided, all of those screensaver, picture-perfect places, I wanted to see for myself! Traveling turned into an obsession, and in turn, that set my passion for photography, ON FIRE! I would see a photo in a magazine or on the computer, and did all the research I could to figure out exactly where that photograph was taken. I love to capture the beauty through my lens, and share my very own perspective of these magical destinations!
What is your favorite camera or “go to” camera?
I currently use a Canon 70D, and interchange lenses. A wide-angle lens is my absolute favorite. It gives such a broad perspective of the intricate landscape I explore!
Dani Ashley: Standing on top of a 800ft cliff, looking down to Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Beach) on the amazing island of Zakynthos, Greece. The views are incredible, but the winds are very dangerous… Do not get close to the edge! Also, be sure to take a boat to the cove, and explore… My friend and I had the cove to ourselves, at one point, and it was absolutely magical!
How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
I’ve learned so much about different techniques, mainly from the internet. I am always anxious to better my photography. So little by little, I have taken things I’ve read,and put it to good use! It could be frustrating at times if I wasn’t able to get my settings quite right. Eventually, with much patience and practice, I ended up shocking myself with the results! With each travel, I could see my photography getting better and better, which is so incredibly rewarding!
Dani Ashley : Each morning, I enjoyed my breakfast while admiring the beautiful view of the Pitons, in Saint Lucia. It was like clockwork… A rain shower would last for five minutes, make its way out to the sea, and then a rainbow would appear, every morning.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
Composition is truly one of the most important things when it comes to taking a great photograph. I have always been a stickler with positioning the landscape ‘just right’ within the lens, making sure I got enough detail in the shot to keep the eye intrigued. With that being said, I wish I knew and understood the magic of a wide-angle lens when I first began! There is so much more detail that you can fit into your lens, which makes the photographs overall composition, so much more interesting! My goodness, it has improved my photography, SO much!
Dani Ashley : I woke up at the beautiful Moraine Lake Lodge, and started my early morning walk to the Valley of the Ten Peaks. I have been dreaming of this view for years, praying that I would have one calm day, so I could see the reflection of the peaks in the lake. Boy, did I ever… My dream came true!
What is your photographic niche and what is it about this niche that appeals, inspires, or satisfies you?
My photographic niche is Travel Photography, hands down!! The beauty of these places have inspired me so much, that I have traveled all around the world to explore these incredible destinations, myself!! I tend to go more for the exotic, luxurious destinations, like The Maldives, Seychelles, Santorini, Bora Bora, Iceland, Aitutaki, Santorini, etc., and want to capture it in a way, that the viewer feels like they are there. I want people to look at my photographs, and be inspired to go there! I want them to be so intrigued with the view, that they have to see it for themselves.
Dani Ashley: Ever wonder why they call Iceland the “Land of Fire & Ice”? On this day, all of my questions were answered, as I took in the mesmerizing view at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. This was my version of Fire & Ice… What a magical morning!
What are the typical preparations that go into your photographic shoots?
First and foremost, I always make a huge map of the destination I am traveling! I section it into “days” and pin each point I want to explore and photograph, so I don’t miss a thing! Sunrise and sunset factor in BIG TIME, as to when and where my day begins, and ends! The weather also plays a huge role! We cannot predict or change what Mother Nature ultimately decides to do. So, I plan accordingly during the year, when the best time is to go to this destination, along with making sure I’m prepared while I’m there… Just in case Mother Nature wants to make it interesting:) I also am always over-prepared when it comes to my equipment. You can do all the research in the world to get the feel of the landscape around you, but you never know what your really dealing with until you see it for yourself!
Dani Ashley: After leaving my overwater villa, I made my way down the jetty, and the stunning view of Iru Fushi had me in tears. It was my #1 dream to have the ultimate Maldivian experience, and it came true!!
Do you have an all-time favorite photo destination and what is special about this place?
I hold so many places close to my heart, but I would say, The Maldives & Iceland.
Dani Ashley: Walking along the jetty at The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi, the view absolutely took my breath away. I have never seen a place so magical, and perfect, until I traveled to The Maldives.
The Maldives and Iceland are complete opposites, but both destinations are out-of-this-world, and were the top two destinations on my Bucket List!! You know that perfect place you have been dreaming about for years, and you think to yourself, “There’s no way a place like this really exists”? Welcome to The Maldives. When it comes to the luxury resorts, one island is one resort, which makes it such a magical, “Robinson Crusoe” experience! The view of the jetties sprawled out into the Indian Ocean, dotted with overwater villas, was just incredible. Staying in an Overwater Villa was a heavenly experience, that way surpassed anything I have ever dreamt of. I have never seen water so blue, and felt sand so soft. Every morning, the pure white sand was raked around the shoreline to collect any coral that had been washed ashore during the evening hours. Even the interior of the island was raked to perfection… No leaf was out of place. I have never felt such serenity as I did in The Maldives. It was my safe haven and my dream come true.
Dani Ashley: I left my hotel room at Litli Geysir, and started driving in the blizzard-like snow to a clear spot on the radar. About an hour into the drive, the snow stopped, and I pulled the car over. We got out and the Milky Way was stretched right above us in the dark, moonless sky… I have never seen so many stars! Next thing I knew, a white glow started in the sky, and then it turned to green, purple, and red. My friend and I were in tears, as we stood in the snow, glancing up at the aurora dancing in the sky.
Then, there is Iceland… The magical land of fire & ice! Iceland not only has a strange, dramatic landscape with volcanoes, glowing-blue glaciers, hot springs, moss-covered lava fields, turbulent waterfalls, geysers, glacial rivers, mountains, fissures, mesmerizing winding fjords, black sand & ice fragment beaches, scattered plane wrecks, colorful craters, turf houses, raging rivers, and deserted highlands… But, the #1 reason I traveled to Iceland, was to see the Northern Lights!! Watching the glow of green, purple, and red lights dance in the dark sky, with billions of stars, was the most incredible experience of my life. When you witness something so magical, it will live in your heart & mind, forever. Iceland is surely a photographers paradise, & quite the unforgettable adventure!!
Dani Ashley: Just arriving on the island of La Digue, Seychelles, I was taken to my resort by golf cart, and this was my first view… Wow. Le Domaine de L’Orangeraie Resort & Spa is beyond dreamy!
What do you try to say in your photographs?
A single photograph can say so much, without saying a word. I want to inspire people to travel the world, to see the incredible landscapes my eyes have seen. I hope to capture the beauty in such a way, that it captivates ones senses, and takes them there-Mentally and/or physically. When you are surrounded by such an immense landscape, you realize just how small you are in this world. You develop a better sense of understanding that there is much more to explore, than just where you make a home, and “things” are insignificant… It’s about life experiences, breathtaking views, and indulging in both of those, with those you love!