Tuesday, August 7, 2012

BEHIND THE LENS: Darlene Cunnup, Rockville Centre, NY

Today we are so very honored to feature the work of Darlene Cunnup.  Darlene was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2011 and found that photography and blogging helped her (and is still helping her) through her journey.  For example, only one month after her surgery, Darlene was busy preparing for three photo exhibits that occurred between June and October!  I can hardly imagine setting up one! And while she was at home recovering from her surgery, one of the surgeon assistants called her to check in on her and asked what she was doing.  She replied that she was outside photographing flowers.  Yay Darlene!

As you will see from her interview below and her images, Darlene is a talented artist who is not only inspiring due to the images she captures but also because of her positive outlook and attitude.  I am so excited that I will get to meet Darlene in person this fall at Shutter Sisters' Oasis and tell her in person how wonderful I think she is.  

Darlene, thank you so much for sharing your work and your story with us.  xoxx, Kristina

Your Name:  Darlene Cunnup
Your studio/business name:  Darlene Cunnup
Location:  Rockville Centre, NY

Your Style:

In 50 words or less, how would your clients describe your photography?  The words I hear the most are funny, inspirational, honest and relaxed.  I try to make the clients (human and pets) comfortable.  I want them to have a good time.

Are you self-taught or classroom trained? A little of both I learned most of my photography skills from my dad and I majored in teleproductions in college and photography was apart of it, I take workshops and classes when I can.  I am old school I shot on film and slowly went into digital – I do love the instant gratification of digital.

How many years have you been a professional photographer?  I sold my first photo when I was 18 while shooting Rock Bands and my photo career took off from there.   So it’s been 27 years now. 

Where do you want to take your photography business in 5 years?
Since being diagnosed with Breast Cancer in May of 2011 I have been living one day at a time I’d like my photography business to be full time (I’m currently part time and maintain a full time day job) and would love to move back to my hometown Fort Mill, SC.

Is there a photographer who inspires your style?  Who would that be?  There are so many photographers who I admire and who inspire me. 

Favorite location to take photos?  I really love shooting on Main Street in my hometown and on the beach – I can shoot pets, families and abstracts in both locations anytime.

Favorite vacation spot?  I have to say it is my hometown – Fort Mill, SC and surrounding areas.  

Your Business:

What was the pivotal moment when you decided to become a photographer?  I have been a photographer since I was a kid with a love for the camera and fact that I could capture a moment in time.  I’ve always loved taking photos, as well as looking at photos.

What’s the best marketing tip that has worked for you?  Word of mouth.

What’s the most surprising thing a customer has asked you?  There are so many crazy things I do during photo shoots since I mostly shoot dogs, I just can’t come up with one for this questions!

Favorite print lab?  I use a local lab and print some myself.

Your Gear:

Are you Canon or Nikon (or –other): Canon

If you could only have one lens on a photo shoot, what would it be?  28-50mm lens or 18-200 I need it for shooting the animals espeacilly the dogs - I have to have the zoom factor going on since they run around so much

What brand bag do you carry your camera in?  The Crumpler is my main bag, I have a few different bags though, you can’t have too many bags.

What gear would we find in your camera bag?  Canon 50d, 50mm lens, closeups filters, 28-55mm lens, 18-200mm lens for wildlife photos, extra batteries and cards, business cards, pen and pad, squeaky toy, and I will carry second bag with another body and toys, treats, water and other props if I am doing a mini session shoot with numerous clients

Are you a natural light fan or strobe fan? Both!  I’ve mostly work with natural light

Are you PC or Mac?  Mac

Your Tips and Tricks:

What post processing tools do you use?  Photoshop and Lightroom but I really try I keep my post processing light.  I do use textures on some of my still life’s.

Do you shoot in Raw or Jpeg?  For me, I have found JPEG works just fine.

Best advice you would give your 20-year old self?  There is a reason for everything.  You may not understand it at first but things do happen for a reason.  Start saving money now - photography is an expensive business.

Best advice you would give a new photographer?  Stop worrying about what others will think and just do what you enjoy.  Take chances.  Open yourself to the possibilities.  Shoot shoot shoot…

What site do you use for your photography and why?  Blogspot is where I have my blog and I am currently using Homestead for my website but it doesn’t work with Macintosh computers very well so I am looking to change soon.

What was your worst photography experience?  I know I have had a few but I viewed them all as learning experiences. I'm a pretty positive person so I try to look for the good in everything.

What would surprise people most about you, whether it is photography related or not?  I am actually a shy person, I remember hiding behind my dads legs when I was little and I use my camera as that safety net now.

Tell us something else you’d like us to know:

I am a photographer now living with Stage 3A triple negative breast cancer with a positive attitude and outlook.   I live life one day at a time.  I do find myself paying it forward more now.  I work with Shoots for a Cure group – a non profit group that photographs cancer patients free of charge so that they have professional photos to make them feel good about themselves and sometimes it is the last photos the family will have of the patient. I know a lot of cancer patient do not want photos taken they feel horrible and don’t want to remember that time in there life but I try to make them realize it’s just a bump in the road and the photos we take will be fun to look like.

As a cancer patient I know what its like to not have the extra money because of medical costs that is why I started working with Shoots for a Cure. 

I celebrated my baldness and never wore a hat or bandana unless it was cold out.  I was Charlie Brown for Halloween in 2011 and that is the photo I use on my flyers for Shoots for a Cure.   I actually had my photos taken by one of the Shoots for a Cure photographers in Charlotte, NC it was a great time and the photos are incredible.

I am so grateful I had my passion for photography through my journey it helped me so much.   Photography is my passion. I love taking pictures and capturing moments in time. I love to see and hear the comments people make when they see a picture they really like

And just because we want to know you better, fill in the blanks...

Three things I can’t live without…. Camera, blue jeans and flip flops

I wish I had more….. money to invest in my business.

The best thing about being a photographer is …capturing memories

My favorite time of day is …early morning – I get up everyday at 5:15am.


  1. What an amazing and brave woman! Fantastic photos too. Keep the faith Darlen!

  2. Wonderful interview. I am praying for you.

  3. Such an inspiring interview!! Thanks for sharing it with us, Darlene!! My mom is just now getting her hair back after 18 months of chemo for a recurrence of IIIc Ovarian. She was a proud baldie, but not keen on having picture taken mostly because chemo made her chubby. (((Hugs)))!!

  4. Kristina wonderful interview what an inspirational lady I too have had breast cancer but am fully recovered I didn't have to have chemo but 6 weeks of Radiotheraphy ... Darlene keep living that life...


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