How did you get into photography/what is your background?
I started getting into photography when I was 16. Like many people my age I was introduced to my first SLR via my parents - I wanted a camera to take some pictures of my friends skateboarding (offsetting my utter failure a being any good on a skateboard myself!). My mother had a Canon AV-1 and I started shooting on that. I remember studying the manual from cover to cover, and after a few test shots I was hooked.
By the time it came to deciding what to do at college I found myself at a fork in the road. During secondary school I had a really keen interest in travel & tourism, and was seriously contemplating becoming a ski resort rep! But I decided to go to Solihull College to do a BTEC National Diploma in Photography. It was a great course and really gave a solid grounding in the basics of photography - plus our tutor at the time (Emma Clarke) was fantastic and really supportive. She was also the resident photographer at the old Carling Academy in Brimingham, which is where I got my first taste of music photography.
After the ND I went to the University of Central England to do a BA in photography, but after the first year I had decided that it wasn’t really for me. It was very fine-art based, which is all well and good, but I wanted to be actively working in the industry - so I headed back to Solihull College and undertook a HND in photography. I owe a lot to the the head of photography Larrie Tiernan, because unlike how I personally felt at UCE, it seemed like he really was invested in getting the most out of his students - really pushing them to find work experience and get a job in the industry. Via the course I managed to get work experience with Automotive photographer Ed Lee, as my interest had switched from music to automotive over the past couple of years. I spent a week with him at Junction Eleven studios in Banbury, learnt so much and came away from it very focused and determined to succeed in this field!
4 years later and I am now working at Junction Eleven (and have been since finishing the HND course) as a photographic assistant and second photographer. The past 4 years working here under head of photography Manvir Rai has really moulded how I approach my personal projects - the intense attention to detail required when working here has certainly rubbed off! We’ve shot a huge variety of things from Range Rovers to kitchen room sets to multi-million pound diamond necklaces.
Over the past year or so I’ve found myself drifting back into shooting music at the weekends - more promotional material then anything else. It’s become my primary focus outside of the work at J11 and what I want to become known for - I really want to push it this year and get some stuff into magazines. That’s the side I’m concentrating on in this blog! My aim is to provide unsigned bands with affordable professional photography that’s going to get them noticed and on the whole kick their image up a notch.
How would you describe your style of photography?
I’ve got quite an moody/dark style when it comes to my music promos, but that’s not to say it doesn’t change from time to time! In truth I’m still expanding my knowledge and I’m always trying out new things (aren’t we all?) so I find my style of shooting does tend to flow and get refined from one project to another. At the end of the day I want to create images that stand out, that make people want to look at them in detail instead of just glossing over them. I’m definitely going through a ‘movie poster’ type vibe at the moment.
What equipment do you use?
I still shoot on my college camera - a Canon 1DS MKIIn! It’s my workhorse and I know it so well I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to give it up completely. It suits me fine for the way I shoot - I’m not looking to blow stuff up to billboard proportions! At J11 I use a Phase One / Mamiya 645AFD with a Phase One P45+ back, and a Sinar P2 technical camera.
Lighting wise I use Elinchrom Ranger packs and an Elinchrom Deep Octa softbox, with a couple of strip boxes if I need them. Quick, simple and power when and where you need it! I used to shoot with flashguns like the Canon 580ex, but found that they just couldn’t give me the power and speed I was after.
Who/What influences your work?
We’ll stick the usual suspects here first - the Strobist blog was a massive influence when I was learning off camera lighting. I can’t recommend it enough to every photographer out there. Get the basics down and you’re set, you can apply it to everything - from shooting your cat in your living room, to CEOs of big companies.
Influence wise I’m a big fan of Dave Hill, Joey L, Adam Elmakias and Joel Grimes. If I end up being half as good as these guys I’ll be happy! It’s a great motivator to see the amazing images that they produce, and then watch the behind-the-scenes videos that they provide and realize that there is no witchcraft involved, just an intimate knowledge of their craft.
Contact Dan on his website: