“You have to do it again, only better”: a chat with Sydney photographer Dani Hansen

Dani Hansen is one of our favourite rock ‘n’ roll photographers in Australia. We’ve been lucky to have the chance to work with her on loads of shoots – live shows, artist interviews and conceptual projects – and she continually blows us away. Her style is visceral – off the cuff in the best sense – and from this, she captures moments in a very pure way. There’s always a story within, and it doesn’t take long for it to reveal itself.

We’re about to launch issue # 8 of Happy Mag, our very first photo issue, and we’re thrilled to have Dani in there. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Gold Class

“You have to do it again, only better. Preferably differently”: We have a chat with one of our favourite rock ‘n’ roll photographers, Dani Hansen.

HAPPY: What’s your ideal collaboration?

DANI: My ideal collaborative situation is basically a bunch of equally kook creatives who want to work together and create something awesome. Everyone is on the same wavelength with a mutual respect for each other’s ideas and the result is some crazy output. Otherwise, all I can think of is Mike D, Adrock, Monty Python and Interpol. I don’t even know in what capacity, I would just love to be in the same room as them simultaneously.

The Vaccines

HAPPY: How would you say your style has developed over time?

DANI: I’d like to think it has developed in a more visceral and authentic way. I gravitate a lot towards Cass Bird and the way she captures such candidness and warmth in totally left field form. I’m forever working to translate that style in my own way.

Cameron Avery

HAPPY: Describe your creative process.

DANI: When I prep for a shoot, I will usually try and belt out a vague mood board or put together some kind of shot list. This is usually based on whatever I’m currently inspired by. I keep those concepts in the back of my mind and let the shoot develop instinctively. As a photographer, you also rely on the energy your subject brings to the shoot, as well as a myriad of other factors which can transform the project into something else entirely. So it’s about being fluid and adaptable.

Mini Mansions

HAPPY: How do you personally define success as an artist?

DANI: I figured out recently that photography should be felt as much as it’s seen. So if I can move people in some kind of way, or inspire, or leave some small dent on the world, I would be so chuffed. In the words of Barry White and Howard Moon, “I’ve got so much to give.”

Toro Y Moi

HAPPY: What’s the single most important piece of creative advice you’ve been given?

DANI: It wasn’t given to me personally but I do consider Karl Lagerfeld a kind of muse and he imparted this pearl: “Success nullifies. You have to do it again, only better. Preferably differently.” I believe in continually experimenting and pushing boundaries, challenging myself, and being as offbeat as possible. Always determined to prove myself again and again.

Vince Staples