Photographer and Teacher
Photographer and driver-partner Dan tells us about growing up in theater tech, the challenges of living in nature, and his work in photojournalism.
Where are you from originally?
I grew up in Culver City. I don’t live too far from where I grew up.
When did you first get into art and creating?
I first got into the arts through theater. I went to a theater show in sixth grade and I was blown away by the stage crew and the behind the scenes world. When I got to junior high I wanted to be a part of all of that – building the sets, making the lights. My high school was also a music academy with an amazing theater academy so I got into stage crew there.
During my senior year, I took a photo class and I learned to love photography. I learned to process black and white films. I then loved exploring the world through photos.
Did you continue to study photography in school?
I went to UC Santa Cruz and actually started as a film major. I shot photos for the newspaper and realized I liked stills more than video or film.
I also started developing my total love for the outdoors. I took a two-month backpacking class in Montana. You really can see how strong someone can become when pushed past their limits in nature.
What did you decide to do after college?
I started teaching outdoor education and shot for a few music bands here and there. I would lead trail crews a month at a time. I snowboarded in the winter and taught trail work throughout the year.
I soon got into a bad accident when bike riding in New Zealand. I was totally out of comission for three months – broken hips, broken spine. I was always afraid to step into the photography world but after the accident I went for it. I studied photojournalism at the City College of San Francisco for two years after.
"You forget everyone driving is something else outside of a driver. Uber brings people together who have never met before. I am excited to see it bring artists together."
— Dan, Photographer and Teacher
Did you end up sticking with photography?
I interned for four different newspapers and did sports photography in Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri. I got to know communities. I loved telling stories and meeting people and the access photography gave me.
I came back to LA around 2008. Newspapers were dying out. I started working for a camera shop in the rental department.
How is photography part of your life now?
I now work for photographers in LA – doing every kind of photoshoot. Every summer I do marketing and photography for the non-profit Student Conservation Association. I also teach middle school and high school photography and also take students hiking and backpacking.
Why did you start driving with Uber?
Uber is a great way to make money in-between all of the freelance work. I also love talking to people all of the time in my car. One of my problems with LA was that you were usually always in your car alone and couldn’t meet people. Now you can. It’s bringing a city that is normally very solo, together.
I was first scared but after the first week I thought why hadn’t I been doing this longer.
Would you recommend driving to other freelance artists?
It works for a freelance lifestyle. I can fully choose to turn the app on and off. I can fully choose when to drive any time of the weekmto make more money.
It’s making money on demand in a pleasant way.
Also I can’t function in an office and I have genuinely enjoyed driving. I like driving around LA, finding the short cuts. Life has gotten easier knowing I can make money when I need to without asking anyone.
What were your thoughts when you heard about UberARTIST?
You forget everyone driving is something else outside of a driver. Uber brings people together who have never met before. I am excited to see it bring artists together.
What photos are you showing as part of the UberARTIST art gallery event?
I have always loved open spaces and architectural photography. I spend a lot of time in airports and I love photographing vast rooms, space people should be in but they are not. I also love confined nature – plants in an airport, still within the larger landscape. That is what you will see at the event.
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