Featured Member: Daniella Monestime

Daniella Monestime can speak firsthand to the power of manifestation to create the career of your dreams. Fifteen years ago, Monestime put a picture of a camera on her vision board. She enjoyed taking photos on her Nokia phone and wanted to explore it as a hobby. Without ever seeing that picture, her now-husband gifted her a camera—the exact model on her vision board. After moving to New York from Canada, she had a lot of time on her hands, which she used to develop her photography skills, eventually turning her hobby into a business. 

In 2018, Monestime quit her job in hospitality to focus on Danielle Mone Photography full time. “It’s been quite a challenge; I will admit to that. Being in business is very demanding,” she says. One of her biggest challenges has been balancing all the additional work that comes with being a business owner. “I’m much more than a photographer. In order to get clients, you have to be marketing. You have to be networking. You have to be doing so many different things to get the business to run. There’s accounting to do, even cleaning the studio.” 

It is difficult to stay creative when you’re bogged down with bookkeeping and administrative tasks. She handles performing all of these functions by outsourcing the things she isn’t good at or just doesn’t enjoy. She also works on projects on the side that keep her passion for photography ignited.“A friend of mine invited me to his daughter’s school, and I went to teach kids about photography. It was so overly fulfilling to do something like that, to see their little faces, the fascination that they had in front of the camera. It was the most beautiful thing. Those little things help to bring back the joy of photography.”

When Monestime started, she thought she would be a architecture photographer. Instead, she found her niche taking portraits. One of her favorite things about being a portrait photographer is the connection she makes with her clients, and that’s something she couldn’t get from taking pictures of buildings. “I’ve seen people come here who feel that they are not great at posing and they’re not photogenic. And to see them after, looking at their pictures and crying because they look so beautiful, it brings me so much joy. I truly love it,” says Monestime.

Her ideal portrait client is women over 50. She says that women stop getting professional pictures after a certain age. They get them for graduation, when they get married, and when they have children. But then they start taking pictures for their family and are no longer the one in front of the camera. “Whenever I asked them when was the last time they had professional pictures, they can’t even remember,” says Monestime. She wants her clients to know that it’s okay to have a few extra pounds or gray hair or wrinkles. “I’m all about empowerment of women. That’s a big thing in my photography business, and I want to be part of that movement that encourages women to just be themselves.”

Wanting to empower women is also what brought her to IAW. As the IAW NY chapter Vice President, her advice to new members is to really engage with the opportunities IAW offers. “I think you get best results when you truly get involved,” she says. “When I go to a networking event, I’ll pick out maybe three to four people and do a one-to-one with them. I’ll say ‘Hey, let’s do a virtual coffee break and let’s have a chat.’ Otherwise, it’s just another networking event.” 

In addition to working with her regular headshot and portrait clients and working on the IAW leadership team, Monestime is working on a passion project she started in 2018 called “Between the Sheets.” It’s a series of photo sessions for women over 50, encouraging them to reconnect with their bodies. Unlike her other session that’s all about glamour, this shoot is minimalist with no gowns or makeup. Just simple white sheets. 

A couple of weeks before the session, she invites the subject to do some exercises to start reconnecting with their bodies, such as looking at themselves in the mirror and giving love to a body part that they feel negatively toward. After the shoot, she invites them to sit down and write a love letter to their body. “After finishing all that, we look at the pictures together, and if they want, they can purchase images, but there’s no pressure,” she says. She plans for the images to culminate into an exhibit and potentially a book. Currently, Monestime is looking for 20 more women to participate. “I’m here for people just to reconnect and really feel present in their body. That’s what it’s about for me.”

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