Owner, Dani Fine Photography, age 34
Danielle Klein-Williams has been taking pictures since she was a child.
“I’ve always been really fascinated with the ability to capture memories that will last a lifetime,” she said, recalling how she was inspired by a photo album that her mother received from close friends after her grandfather died. “It had photographs going back to when my grandfather was in the Navy. These black-and-white photographs told my whole family history. It made an impression on me.”
Soon after that, her parents bought her a camera for Christmas, and she dove headlong into taking pictures, learning about photography, and attending summer camps devoted to the craft. “I decided it was something I wanted to pursue after high school. My parents were definitely leery — ‘you’ll never be able to support yourself’ — but I made it work.”
But not right away. After high school, she trained at the Hallmark Institute of Photography in Turners Falls, then launched Dani Fine Photography with her husband in 1999.
“I was only 19. As with every business, it was hard to get started,” she said, adding that the first seven years were a struggle, with little profit to put back into the company; marketing consisted of delivering flyers door to door. “We did a lot of work for free; we wanted to build our portfolio and get our name out there.”
The enterprise eventually grew, however, and Klein-Williams started focusing more on event and wedding photography. The business now employs eight people, including four photographers, and has won a number of awards, including being voted “Best of Wedding Photographers” by The Knot, and landing on the cover of Connecticut Bride. Meanwhile, over the past couple of years, she has cultivated a niche in boudoir photography.
Klein-Williams is staying busy in other ways as well, donating time, money, and photography services to a host of causes, including the Easthampton Learning Foundation, the Assoc. for Community Living, the United Way, the Susan B. Coleman Foundation, the Shade Foundation, the Hot Chocolate Run, Stepping Out for Autism, the Cancer Connection, Safe Passage, Best Buddies Massachusetts, and more.
“Getting involved in local charities is a great way to give back to the community,” she said, adding that they inspire her. “They’re people who are trying to make a difference, and they really know the definition of hard work, so it’s great to work with them.”
— Joseph Bednar