We had the good fortune of connecting with Hannah Danford and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hannah, how does your business help the community?
This is actually a huge part of my mission and a large part of why I gave my business its name. When it came to naming my business, I was extremely picky because I wanted it to be an accurate reflection of my heart and my values. I wanted it to stand for something, not just be another tag for a photography page on instagram. I deeply desire that my work, whether that be in the dental office, behind the lens or even at home, honors God first and foremost. I believe that through honoring God first I will be better equipped and able to serve my neighbors well. Through photography, I hope to help individuals capture and remember special moments in their lives – a beloved pet, a 50th wedding anniversary, a graduation party, the passing of a loved one, a newborn baby, a renewal of vows, a big chamionship soccer game – to pause moments in time that can be reminisced and cherished later on. My business is called “Avodah Photos” for a reason. “Avodah” is actually a Hebrew word that appears throughout the Bible. This word synonymously means both work and worship. It conveys a picture where God intends for our work and worship to function together as a harmonious way of living and not as two disconnected parts of our life where we do one on Monday and the other on Sunday. In learning about this word and its meaning, I felt so convicted and believed it was the perfect representation of where my heart was in starting my business. Thereby “Avodah Photos” was born along with it’s logo bearing the image of serving hands, holding a camera, full of heart and worship. In essence, my business has at it’s core the desire to serve others and impact the community around it.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I absolutely love photography! It has provided the creative outlet I’ve desired for the last few years now – it’s challenging, technical and beautiful. It’s taught me to be patient with myself as I learn and find my “style”. Photography has opened up doors of opportunities and a chance to tap into new strengths and talents I never knew I had. It’s been such a fun venture of the heart and I’m so excited it’s turned into something more. I think my. heart behind why I started Avodah Photos is truly what sets me apart from other photographers. I’ve always found it incredible that there can be so many individuals in creative fields, and yet we all have a way to create something entirely unique to us and our vision. My purpose behind Avodah Photos is truly to serve others well (as I mentioned earlier in another question). Along with starting to cultivate a creative eye, I’m extremely proud of my ability to “read the room” if you will. I’m an empathetic person by nature, and that definitely plays into how I want to run my business. I’ve been working in the dental field as a hygienist for the last five years and if I’ve learned anything over that period of time, it’s that the patient is always right – they are the professional when it comes to making informed decisions about their own health. I think it’s the same when it comes to clients. As a photographer I always want to take my client’s needs and expectations into consideration, to respect them as the subject and reason for whatever story I am capturing. I always want to ask myself the question, how can I best portray this family or these kids or this couple in a way that my client(s) can authentically remember? Avodah Photos is still extremely new and I definitely don’t claim to have it all figured out. Has it been relatively easy as of now? Yes, but I know there is still so much I have yet to learn. I know I will make mistakes along the way and I know I will get frustrated and probably doubt every now and again. But I’ve also found some of the most remarkable and fulfilling times in my life were the products of risk taking and stepping outside my comfort zone – of enduring the hard things. I wouldn’t have a career as a dental hygienist today if it weren’t for transferring schools and taking a leap of faith to try something completely new. I wouldn’t be married to my husband today if I hadn’t taken the risk to move halfway across the country when I graduated college for no reason other than I was young and single and capable of doing so! And I wouldn’t have the pleasure of getting to call Avodah Photos my venture of the heart if it weren’t for pursuing a dream, even if it seemed far fetched. I think risk is a necessary component for growth. I didn’t expect near the amount of support I got when I started Avodah Photos. Heck, I’m a total newbie! All I’ve got is passion and the desire to learn, but that in and of itself has produced something so fruitful.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My husband and I are extremely active people so the most “fun and interesting” places we would take friends usually have something to do with the outdoors or just being on the go. When friends come to town, we love walking around Memorial Park, taking trips to new parks with our two dogs or riding bikes along the bayou. We’re always down to attend sporting events for our Houston area teams. Next on the list is to watch a Houston Sabercats rugby match. We’ve taken many friends bouldering at Momentum Indoor Climbing and can’t wait for our next trip to NASA. We went to the Houston Zoo for the first time this last December and have already made plans to take my parents there when they visit us next. With my husband and I being CrossFitters, we spend the majority of our free time at our local box, Iron Oak CrossFit. Friends that come to visit usually know they will be working out with us at some point or another during their stay. Local Foods and Velvet Taco are two of our favorite casual places to eat and we love grabbing a slice downtown at Frank’s Pizza when we can. Kraftsman Cafe is definitely a go to for a weekend breakfast with friends and Slowpokes coffee for an afternoon pick-me-up. And for an evening out, sand volleyball and drinks at Crowbar.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband, Zach, has been so super supportive through this whole journey. From the moment I picked up a camera and showed interest beyond just a hobby, he’s been willing to help me along the way. He’s been my fitness model countless times in our garage gym as well as my guinea pig when I’m trying to learn how to adjust my camera to different lighting situations. He’s held my camera bag more times than I can count and even came along with me to my first family shoot because I was so nervous. He’s stood alongside me every step of the way, through my happiness and my tears, so he definitely deserves a lot of credit. Zach along with my closest family and friends are who I owe the most. I don’t think Avodah Photos would exist without their encouraging words, support and their belief in me as an aspiring creative.
Personal Photo – Drea Gonzales