Olga Daubs

My day job is being the co-owner of Gravity Photo Co. with my husband, Steve. We launched our business on March 5, 2020 and feel very grateful to have had a successful first year in a difficult time.

The name of our company comes from the idea that gravity is a force that brings people together. I’ve found that seeing people through the lens of photography allows us to capture those connections.

Each of our photo sessions starts with an interview. Our goal is to gain insights into our subject, whether it’s a person, a couple, a product or a company.

For instance, if we’re photographing a couple announcing their engagement, I’ll interview them about their relationship, separately and together. There’s something special about people reliving their important moments together.

If I’m doing a business branding shoot, I might ask them to describe their target client or what they want a future client to feel when they see our pictures.

I’m originally from Ukraine where I used to be an event planner; my husband, Steve, was a reporter. We decided wedding photography would be a good way to bring together all of our skills and interests when we moved to the U.S. and lived in Florida when we first arrived.

I didn’t really like Florida—I missed the seasons—and we eventually moved to Wisconsin, where Steve has family. When we first came here, we realized wedding photography wasn’t as much of an all-year thing here, as it had been in Florida. We branched into other types of photography, which was a very good thing as we only had four weddings in 2020 because of COVID. We wouldn’t have survived otherwise.

My most memorable caffeine would be one of three.

The first has to do with the history of coffee in Russia. When Peter the Great was the Russian Emperor, he saw that his people were unhappy and decided drinking coffee would make them happier. In fact, he ordered all the people of the Russian Empire to drink coffee and would even torture those who didn’t. I guess they learned to like it!

The second is a memory I have of being a teenager and the arty place in my hometown where people would come together to listen to music and make art. There was a woman who made Turkish coffee using a special pot, on a special stand.

The last caffeine memory is the time I went to Italy for a workshop and found myself in the Italian alps, at a castle, drinking an espresso. I remember thinking, “This must be heaven.”

My current caffeine of choice is coffee made old style in a Turkish pot on the stove. The trick is to let the coffee rise two times. You really have to pay attention as one moment the coffee will be rising and the next it’s all over the stove. In the morning, you might still be sleeping but if you’re making Turkish coffee, you have to pay attention!

I don’t know how to read the grounds in the bottom of a cup of Turkish coffee, but I once went to a fortune teller and she said she saw a pigeon tail in the bottom of my cup—which means something big and nice. I think that was my trip to America!

My favorite place for caffeine in Madison is Finca Coffee, which is right by my studio. It’s locally owned and has amazing Salvadorean cuisine.

The people I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with are Barack and Michelle Obama, along with Matthew McConaughey. I was reading my soul and that was the combination I came up with. I’d want to have coffee with all three of them at the same time. One of my friends interviewed Matthew McConaughey and talked about his book, Greenlight, and what that meant to him.

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: In the short term, we need to address COVID of course. But longer term, we need to stop being so divided. We have many more similarities than differences and in the end I think we’re mostly good people wanting to create something good. Caffeine could help create that moment of connection and let us see how much we have in common.