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Learn from Diane

Diane Villadsen

Diane Villadsen is a color-obsessed commercial photographer whose work explores surreal spaces and themes. Tomato red, bold femininity, and geometric elements star in her images, which aim to reflect the intersection of design and reality. Select clients include Zappos, Allbirds, Mailchimp, Oppo, Twitter, Atelier Cologne, Wisp, Bose, and Xiaomi. Her work has been published in Aesthetica Magazine, Content Magazine, Ignant, Frankie Magazine, and Fstoppers.

What is a week of life look like for you? What do you do each weekday?

It varies a lot, but that’s part of the reason I got into a creative field. I enjoy the flexibility of the lifestyle that photography gives me. So some weeks I may be working on a home or personal projects, hiking, or experimenting with other creative media, while others I may have 2-3 shoots in a row. Some weeks are all about pre-production – making mood boards, client phone calls, painting props, building sets, ordering wardrobe, coordinating team members – and of course, after the shoot, I’m spending hours at my computer in Lightroom and Photoshop. I’m trying to be better at having consistent marketing tasks every week, such as engaging with relevant people on Instagram, reaching out to ad agencies, or making plans for personal shoots, which are my biggest marketing tactic.

How do you incorporate colors in your work?

My work would be nothing without color! Well, maybe it would be kind of cool, but the color is my signature “attraction.” I tend to work with a pretty consistent palette of candy colors, such as pink, tomato red, yellow, orange, mint green, sky blue...but lately, I’m venturing into bolder combinations, such as incorporating indigo or bright green (both of which used to be “banned” from my work). More recently, I’ve been approaching color from more of a design standpoint – really studying how shapes and tonalities intersect and translating that into how I see space my subjects and utilize props. I’m obsessed with color in every aspect of my life, from my 5-color desk to my wardrobe, to the walls of my house. I would be so bored without it.

How do you define/find evergreen pieces/props that work for your aesthetic?

That’s a great question because I find that it’s difficult to have evergreen pieces in my work. I find that as my work evolves, I always have to use something new to keep it fresh and unique. In the past, for example, yellow wide-brim hats and Kurt Cobain sunglasses were my signature styling element for shoots with models. I’ve outgrown the yellow hats, and I’m starting to tire of the sunglasses. But I think part of the appeal of Moodelier pieces, for instance, is that I have the ability to freshen them up with new paint, so they can evolve with my work. Simple shapes are a classic way to add interest no matter what you’re shooting, on any scale. Whether it’s tabletop work or an on-location shoot, I love incorporating stairs, circles, or amoeba-like shapes.


I really love being hired as an “artist” rather than a “photographer.”