CPA Ross Dance started his own dog-photography business in 2009 before moving to family photos and weddings (Photograph by Chris Bolin)
HOW DID YOU GET INTO PHOTOGRAPHY?
Both my parents were photographers. They have a room of floor-to-ceiling drawers, filled with every photo they ever took. When I was 10, my dad taught me the settings on an old Canon camera. I would develop the film in our basement darkroom.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE ACCOUNTING?
My father encouraged me to pursue something practical so I could get a job, and I thought, “What’s safer than an accounting designation?” I earned a double major in accounting and philosophy from St. Francis Xavier. It was the only university that let me do it.
DID YOU CONTINUE WITH PHOTOGRAPHY?
I moved to Calgary in 2006 to work at EY. The next year, a hobby photographer friend of mine and I went to Banff, and it rekindled my love for photography.
TELL US ABOUT THE PICTURE YOU TOOK THAT WENT VIRAL.
In April 2017, I photographed a wedding in Jamaica where a man proposed to the maid of honour. The Huffington Post published the photo, and the next morning I woke up to it being on the cover page of MSNBC. It was in Cosmo, the New York Times, People, Good Morning America. I had to take two days off work to answer all the media calls.
HOW DO PHOTOGRAPHY AND ACCOUNTING COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER FOR YOU?
I’m privileged to have two jobs I love. Because they engage different sides of the brain, I find one pursuit re-energizes the other. I am more productive at work the week after shooting a wedding. I find what I do—forecasting, planning and budgeting toward a common goal—so fulfilling.
WHAT INSPIRED YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS?
Black dogs rarely get adopted because it’s more difficult to capture the soulfulness of their eyes in photos. So I volunteered to take photos for dog-rescue organizations, and then started my own dog-photography business in 2009 before moving to family photos and weddings.
EXPLAIN WHAT’S EXCITING ABOUT WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY?
I love the adrenalin rush of wedding photography. It’s like a sporting event: you have to anticipate moments, get in position and capture everything without being a distraction. You get a backstage pass to these authentic moments that are captured forever.
HOW HAS YOUR CPA DESIGNATION HELPED?
Being a CPA has allowed me to grow as an artist. A lot of artists struggle with the business side of their operations. Thanks to my education, things like bookkeeping, records management and paying tax are second nature to me.