Wearing a beige Americana hat with monotone outfit and a compact Leica X2 in his hand, Daniel is a chameleon in disguise among the concrete buildings and shades from the city’s skyscrapers. Daniel describes himself as chameleon and I simply love his witty metaphor! If he’s a chameleon he’s got to be the most agile one – you can barely notice that he’s snuck of photo of you until you see the red dot on his Leica swipe across, and by then it’s likely that he’s already moved on to find the next target for his street photos.
I was very fortunate to be able to work with Daniel to conceptualise and shoot for our Ekka fashion story. I was blown away by his natural instinct for beautiful light, his enthusiasm and a great sense of humor which made our photoshoot a breeze!
I spent a delightful afternoon hanging out with this charismatic street photographer/ blogger to speak about his recent photo exhibition ‘Framed?’ and listen to what he has to say about travel, fashion and street stuffs…
Congratulations on your debut photo exhibition ‘Framed?’! So tell me, why ‘Framed?’
It’s a combined group effort from eleven of us CATC students. We felt that we’ve been set up and framed into doing the exhibition in such a short amount of time! Normally it takes twelve months to put together a similar exhibition from start to finish, and we did it in twelve weeks.
Some of your work showcased at ‘Framed?’ have been done up even before you started to prepare for it, correct?
That’s correct, my black and white street photography is never a completed body of work, it’s always an ongoing piece. It never stops.
Favourite piece of work from ‘Framed?’?
My favourite piece from Framed of my own work would be “going places’ No.3. The way the lines in the image curve from left to the top of the image makes it almost vibrate off the page, a friend of mine actually said that it was the first still image he has seen that actually doesn’t stop moving. As far as other people work from the exhibition goes, I really liked Matthew Duncan‘s images of self exploration through dreams.
Why are you passionate about street photography? What is it that captivates you?
It’s like me walking through the city at lunch time, everyone’s busy and everyone’s going somewhere, always thinking of something or where they’re going next. They are not really thinking about their environment as much. Sometimes it’s an easier place to photograph people when they’re in their own little world.
Do you do that sometimes? I mean, the whole being absorbed in your own world thing?
No, I’m constantly observing.
That was actually my next question, do you see yourself as an observer or a story teller?
Definitely an observer.
How about storytelling? You wouldn’t disagree if I say that storytelling a big part of photography, would you?
It definitely is. They do say an image says a thousand words. It’s true.
I think it depends on the genre of photography you’re doing. If you’re doing a lot of journalistic work, you’re putting a lot of faces into photography. If you’re doing arty, movement shots in the city like what I did for my exhibition, it’s a different mindset that you take in those photos.
So tell us when did you first pick up a camera?
When I was about nine years old. My dad had cameras and he was a photography. We had a dark room at home. I just started picking up the camera, taking photos and then processing my own black and white shot. When I was at school we had art courses and we had our own dark room as well.
Are these the reasons why you seem to be obsessed with black and white photography?
That was great effort where I put into when I was learning as a kid, the craft of black and white photography and seeing lights in shades of grey rather than different colours.
How do you think your style of photography reflects in your personal style?
(Paused and took a minute to think… it was a question that Daniel’s never thought about!) The clothes I wear are very low-key. I don’t wear a lot of bright colours.
I need to stay unnoticed to take the photos that I take. I like blue, black and white. I think my whole wardrobe consists of blue, black and white t-shirts.
Do you also like colourful things? What approach do you take when you shoot landscape, outdoor and nature?
I do like landscape photos, but I don’t necessarily look for colours. I look for lines, shadows and where the light’s falling on something.
Amazing cities in the world for street photographers?
Any third world countries like China and Nepal. They just seem to be a little bit more relaxed with cameras around than a lot of places are these days.
Country towns are great too, my favourite is Chillogoe in Queensland, west of Cairns, which is a really small town of around 120 people who are really nice and accepting. They’re genuinely interested in your photos but not about finding out who you are.
Do you like to talk to people after taking their photos on the street?
I usually don’t, I usually just take the photos and keep walking. It’s not that important to know because you’re not talking about the real person anyway, you’re talking about the face they put on before they leave home.
If you can do a portrait of anyone in the world, who would it be?
Lady Gaga! She’s so outrageous that I like her! Can you imagine how fantastic it would be doing a fashion shoot with her? She makes her own clothes and changes looks in instance, you’ll have to take more than one photo with her.
Your best travel photos?
Those that I took in Nepal. I’ve got so many nice ones from my trip. It’s such a picturesque country and people are really interesting. There’s one photo of an old lady near the temples in Kathmandu which I really like. She’s the lady who appears in every travel photo of Nepal!
Do you agree that street style photography has hugely influenced mainstream fashion photography and how fashion brands market themselves these days?
It has influenced a lot really. A lot of photos in magazines now are starting to go towards that ‘Instagramy’ kind of feel. A lot of the work is starting to look the same because there’re so many pre-set filters and effect.
That obviously is going to follow through from to the fashion world to try to emulate that.
Most enjoyable photoshoot you’ve done?
A couple of your favourite fashion photos you’ve done?
There’re a few but I have to say that my favourite image is one that I took a couple of weeks ago of you Juliet at the Spiegeltent event in Brisbane!
Hottest tips for wannabe models in fashion shoot?
Models need to have that natural instinct of when to move. Once you found that pose, stop, take the photos, find the next pose, stop again and keep the flow of fashion shoot going.
A few awesome street photography blogs that you follow?
I think it is more important to concentrate on what you do yourself, if I had to recommend someone to look at or research then I would have to fall back to the masters, Henri Cartier-Bresson in particular. With the advent of the mobile phone and the smart phone, everyone has the capability to take good images. That being said, there’re a couple of great books, free ones at that, written by Thomas Leuthard, a Swiss street photographer, he delves into what street photography is as a genre, and how people can get started.
So tell me Dear Reader, have you found some inspirations from our chat or from any of Daniel’s work? Are you a self-taught street photographer obsessed with light and shade? If we’ve inspired you for a little bit, share your thoughts here. 🙂 Make sure you follow Daniel on his blog, Instagram, or tweet him @that_street_guy for he loves a friendly chat!