How ModCloth’s Photo Art Director Landed Her Dream Job

20140212-BouchetteWhat’s your dream job? Whether it’s taking snapshots of couples in love as a professional wedding photographer, trolling around museums as a guide, or designing your own line of clothing, chances are you spend a lot of time daydreaming about your passion. But are you ready to throw caution to the wind and start turning that daydream into a reality? Finding the time, energy and financial means to turn your creative passion into a marketable business can be a challenge, one that can only be solved by learning new skills via online classes and/or on-the-job experience. That’s exactly how Danielle Bouchette landed her dream job as ModCloth‘s Photo Art Director — and why she now trains her team with CreativeLive’s courses.

Like many creatives, Danielle developed her passion for photography at a young age, and was uncertain about how she could turn her love for the medium into a successful job. But Danielle didn’t let financial stress get to her during the early stages of her career — instead, she concentrated on soaking up as much knowledge of the industry as she possibly could. “At that time, I was more anxious to get in, learn, and put in my time, than making money,” Danielle told us during a recent phone interview. “I was living at home with my mother, I kind of kept my personal overhead very low, so that I could work and not expect to get paid a ton…. I was just concentrated on the learning part.”

Danielle surveys her work during a location shoot with the ModCloth crew.
Danielle surveys her work during a location shoot with the ModCloth crew.

Danielle’s zest for learning is what landed her a job at ModCloth — but before heading up the photography department at one of the fashion industry’s most coveted brands, Danielle got her hands on as much experience as she could. Whether it was shooting portraits for high school seniors, interning at professional photo studios, or doing food photography, Danielle exposed herself to as many learning opportunities as possible. It was this thirst for knowledge that prompted Danielle to answer a Craigslist ad that changed her life, and eventually led to a full-time job doing what she loves.

One of Danielle’s recent nautical-themed shoots for ModCloth.

“I was still learning a ton, but kind of starting to get the feel that I might be ready to branch out and look at other opportunities,” Danielle said of finding her dream job with ModCloth. “I came into the interview and was hired as the 14th employee. It immediately turned into [shooting] from 10‑20 products a week to 100, 150 products a week and campaign shoots. It’s been insane growth ever since — such a learning experience.”

Five years later, Danielle is ModCloth’s Photo Art Director, but she’s nowhere close to being done with her education. Danielle believes that she and her team get experience both by learning from each other, and also from other experts in the field. “You don’t know what you don’t know in photography, which is the reason I love CreativeLive,” Danielle said. “I think the biggest thing is to assist or learn as much as you can when you’re starting out.”

Danielle has honed her craft using practical tips from our expert teachers, including Zack Arias, Mark Wallace, Matthew Jordan Smith, and Sue Bryce (who she’s “completely obsessed with”). “I honestly think that at this point in my career, I get more out of CreativeLive than I would going to a class,” Danielle revealed. “These classes are taught by teachers that I necessarily wouldn’t have access to.” Thanks to CreativeLive’s always-on learning channels, Danielle encourages her team to learn on the job and circulates the calendar whenever she spots a relevant course (read: very often!).

Danielle’s success story highlights the power of learning directly from world-class experts. By tuning in to learn from top photographers, Danielle was able to sharpen her skills and harness the confidence necessary to land her dream job and turn it into her dream career.

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Mehera Bonner is a freelance lifestyle and entertainment writer. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and two children.