Vancouver photographer Julie Doro poses for a photo.

Q&A: Darkrooms, joy and happiness with Julie Doro (Vancouver, BC)

An eight-year professional photographer, Julie Doro has a knack for finding what makes her subjects unique. It shines through the Vancouver-based photographer's work — whether shooting weddings, engagements, family photos, or pets.

"I love capturing real [laughter] and play, joy and happiness, admiration in somebody's eyes," she says.

We interviewed Doro about falling in love with photography, why photographers have to "lead their clients," and getting her subjects to relax.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

How did your photography journey begin?

I have always been fascinated by the art of photography. As a child, one of my favourite things to do was assisting my grandfather in a darkroom with printing the photos. It was pure magic — seeing the faces appear on the paper and reliving those special moments again.

When I got older, I got my first film camera and it started my journey. I experimented with textures and landscapes, and truly enjoyed [the] creativity and freedom of making art with still objects. Everything changed when my best friend had her first baby. I ended up capturing her son's first years almost every day, and it made me realize how precious those pictures are and how many memories, emotions, [and] feelings they hold for the families. Her boy is now a stunning young man, and we still have these [photos] of him as a baby to treasure.

A woman poses with her labradoodle for a photo
Credit: Julie Doro Photography
How did you land your first paid shoot?

It took me many years to consider doing photography professionally, and I attended Langara College to build up the basics for my lighting and composition skills. While I studied there, we had a chance to connect with potential clients who were open to student photographers. This lovely couple was looking for someone to photograph their wedding, and they hired me for a nominal fee. I was so excited and scared at the same time, I don't think I slept a wink before the big day. It was so amazing to be a part of someone's special moment, and I am still proud of the images I took that day.

What was the biggest lesson you learned in the early days of your photography business?

It is all on you! We wear so many different hats, and being a photographer is maybe just a half of everything we need to be. The photographer has to take the responsibility and lead the clients, not to be afraid to suggest a location, a change in pose, or composition. There were instances when I didn't offer some adjustments because I felt uncomfortable, but now I've learned my lesson. The reason why the clients are coming back to me year after year is because they know that I will do everything for them to look and feel their best, fixing that little fly-away hair or bringing a toy for the baby to make them smile.

A young couple shares a kiss on the Stanley Park Seawall
Credit: Julie Doro Photography
How would you describe your photography style?

My style is a mix of candid and posed photos. I love capturing real [laughter] and play, joy and happiness, admiration in somebody's eyes, but also I will make sure we have a formal set of pictures for grandparents and albums.

I offer a wide variety of photography services, starting from family, maternity and newborn photography to weddings, events and corporate headshots. The style adjusts based on the requirements of each session, but it is always client-focused. My goal is to make sure you will love how you look in my images.

How do you get your subjects comfortable in front of the camera?

It is different for everyone. I think I developed a really good feel for my subjects. Sometimes I will be showing the photos on the back of my camera to build confidence and encourage certain angles, or I will chat, distract and make them relax in front of the camera. I am often goofy with kids and large family groups. I smile a lot when I photograph, and I know it translates to my subject.

What's the best part of being a photographer?

Being a part of very special happy events for so many people! I feel so honoured when I am one of the first people to meet a new baby, watch a father seeing his daughter as a bride for the first time, listen to wedding vows and tears of joy. It is truly the best part!

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