Have fun and take LOTS and LOTS of pictures. The more pictures you take, the better you’ll get. Simple as that! You don’t have to want to become a professional photographer but a little practice goes a long way. Taking pictures is by nature a joyous occasion, you’re trying to capture a moment in time, so have fun and enjoy it! It will show in the picture!
As a part of my series about “5 Strategies To Take Stunning Photos” I had the pleasure of interviewing Ziba Lennox, the creator at Dancing Mama Style and cofounder of MaZi Dance Fitness. She is also a host for Fashion News Live and covers fashion and fitness topics widely.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have been a lifelong dancer and have always loved fashion so I’m happy to still be very involved in both of my passions. I’m currently creating more pictures and video than ever, so I’ve had to hone my skills at that quickly.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
For my content creation career, one of the most interesting things that has happened is that I’ve had the opportunity to meet people I wouldn’t otherwise. Some of my really good friendships have occurred because I connected with them online!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I think as it comes to photography and content creation, one of the biggest mistakes that are funny now, is that I used a DSLR camera. When you don’t know how to use a DSLR camera, the pictures that you take with your fancy camera can be HORRENDOUS. You will find that your pictures are blurry, out of focus and badly lit. I knew nothing of photography and thought having a better camera would give me better pictures. I was really wrong. I quickly realized that taking pictures on my phone worked way better and I asked my photographer friend for help. She sat down with me over lunch and explained the basics, she gave me a framework to build on and get better at, which I’m still trying to do!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think as it pertains to Dancing Mama Style, my content platform, I try not to copy my peers. It’s easier said than done. Certainly, I draw from others for inspiration but truly at the end of the day, no one can do things as you would do them. Because I’m a dancer my images typically involve a lot of energy and movement and I think some people and brands are drawn to that. Others are not, and that’s ok! ☺
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I think burn out is REAL! A schedule really helps, and so does taking time to workout! I can’t recommend moving enough. You feel brand new after a workout, it’s very cathartic.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I credit 2–3 amazing professional photographers for working with me and teaching me how to be in front of the camera. Samir Abraham for working with me when I knew nothing and traveling with me to New York Fashion Weeks. Frank Rocco, based in NYC was very self-less in teaching me how to have my “stuff” together in front of a camera. I reached out to him on Instagram and told him I loved his work and that I wanted to collaborate with him. Surprisingly he said yes! We’ve shot together about 4–5 times, each time is so amazing. He has a very direct New Yorker style of communicating which I appreciate. He definitely played a huge role in having me find my personal style of taking images, and taught me about the little things that make a huge difference. All while showing me amazing NYC nooks. I love these guys!
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Yes, I’m developing my Youtube Channel, please check it out! Video is a whole other ball game but TikTok made me fall in love with it.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I try to always “look back” as my mother says to do. The world is a better place with every interaction you have, and I try to think of that each time.
Can you share “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Take Stunning Photos”. Please an example for each.
- Start with a great phone camera or take photography lessons for DSLR camera.
- Find a filter you like. This helps bring a beautiful lighting and finish to your images that will help them look professional. Great beginning filters/presets are VSCO, Snapsneed or Canva. Once you get the hang of those, upgrade to Adobe Lightroom for phone. Lightroom gives you a crazy amount of control on your phone from erasing objects in your pictures to color correction. It’s incredible, however, get your feet wet with the first 3. Many photographers and content creators sell their own filter presets, so you can search #presets on Instagram and have your pick!
- Apply the Rule of thirds. Usually pictures are more interesting if you think about this guiding rule at least loosely. Think of splitting your frame in 3 parts both horizontally and vertically, so that you would have 9 squares total. When taking your picture have your main subject fall along where the lines intersect. You can certainly have your main subject in the center at times, but the rule of thirds is a great way to start thinking about how you use the frame in your lens. Play around with angles. A picture taken straight on can be a bit dull. I always have my photographer get lower to help me appear taller and more prominent in shot or get high over my head. If the picture gets taken straight on, it feels more like a portrait.
- Basic tools go a long way! Getting a tripod for stability and ability to click your own picture is huge. A light ring for your phone will light your pictures up beautifully also. Both will set you back about 40 dollars for both and will help your image quality so much. These are the ones I like: Selfie Stick Tripod, UBeesize 51 and Ring Light attachment for your phone.
- Have fun and take LOTS and LOTS of pictures. The more pictures you take, the better you’ll get. Simple as that! You don’t have to want to become a professional photographer but a little practice goes a long way. Taking pictures is by nature a joyous occasion, you’re trying to capture a moment in time, so have fun and enjoy it! It will show in the picture!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Since we’re talking about photography, I would say, try to take a beautiful picture of someone without them realizing and them surprise them with it. I try to do that with my friends, or people in my neighborhood and my clients at the dance studio. I think candid pictures are so beautiful because the subject has their guard down. I then try to improve the lighting and filter it a bit with some quick edits and then share with them or on their Facebook or get it to them in some way. Not only will they be pleasantly surprised but you may help them see beauty in themselves they haven’t yet realized. ☺
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!