Photographer of the Month Interview: Daniel Greenwood | Aperture Academy

Featured Photographer, July 2018:   Daniel Greenwood

We are happy to have Daniel Greenwood as our featured guest photographer this month. We appreciate that he gave us some of his time and generously shared his beautiful photography with us! Please visit his links to see more of his work, and to let him know you enjoyed this interview.

:: What was the start for you in Photography? I've read that it started with cell phone pictures? What caused you to push forward with learning more?

I started my photography career with the use of my old android phone back about 5 years ago. I noticed I had this addiction to witnessing sunsets or sunrise color. From here I began to watch youtube videos and I became obsessed with looking at all the insanely beautiful photos on 500px. After a short while of studying everyone else's amazing photography I developed this crazy obsession with the stars. I noticed that with a higher end DSLR you were able to capture the night sky unlike the way the eyes could see. This is basically what started my photography obsession and what pushed me to save for my first actual SLR or DSLR camera. The stars, the unknown infinite space.

:: Being self-taught, seems to be some what of a popular route with photography these days. What were the pros and cons to this method? In looking back do you think it was the complete best choice, or in hindsight do you think you could've alleviated some frustrating parts with some sort of class?

Art has always run in my family, not specifically photography but more so painting. Being self taught with photography I have always felt to be the best way for me to learn but that can be different for anybody. I have always felt it better because I could work at my own pace and it was far more fun failing then succeeding where I failed down the road based on what I was teaching myself. From this I also found I developed my own unique style over the years. I find a lot of people that take classes or study tutorial videos constantly lose there own unique vision in the creation of there art or craft. People begin to simply copy and paste what looks pretty and what is popular at the time. So I am thankful to have taught everything myself over the years, for the most part anyways.

:: What is something you still struggle with?

I think we all have our strengths and weaknesses. I find the biggest thing I struggle with more so these days is creative blocks. There will be days and nights where I can just sit in front of my computer screen with files ready to process and I literally do nothing to them over several hours. I find the more creative we are the more these blocks tend to haunt us. SO this is definitely something I struggle with almost once or twice a week.

:: Your website bio mentions a fascination with the night sky and video games as something that you feel influences your work. I get the night sky part…but how do video games play into this?

A lot of people have often asked me about how video games or even movies inspire me in ways. Just look at it in this perspective. Those people creating those video games or even sci fi movies for example are super creative, so I guess in a way I can relate to them. They are artists as well just sharing a creative vision in a different way. So sometimes before I go ahead and process a file ill go and watch a few sci fi movies to get a creative state of mind. I often create my imagery with the sense of an otherworldly feeling this is something I am also deeply obsessed with. SPace, stars, aliens, anything not of the normal society constructs.

:: Looking at your work, and reading some of your descriptions…it seems there's a lot of pre-visualization that goes into your images. Is that true? Can you walk me through that process of how you decide to create an image from a location…and then technically how your mind assembles a "to-do" list of what happens next.

When im out in field shooting and hiking. I can see things a lot differently then most people. How light is working its way through a scene and how it will fit together well with a composite star blend. FOr example I shot a set of waterfalls out in Jasper a few weeks ago during one of my workshops. I had told my student as we were shooting it "look how the light is falling behind this tree line and the clouds in the sky are really over cast and kind of flat" I told her exactly how I would go about blending a milky way into the comp just because of the symmetry and how the leading lines worked through the scene.A lot of my previsualization has to do with tonality and color as well. So many people often ask if I just sit behind a computer and put images together like puzzle pieces but this is not the case. A lot of the time If I find an insane foreground to shoot but the sky is boring I will put the pieces together in my head for blending some stars in later. I guess this is just a creative ability I have.

:: Judging by your social media presence, I see more new work show up there than on your website…it seems that is a big marketing tool for you. How do you try to keep your approach to social media fresh…and what are the drawbacks to a platform that requires so much constant interactions?

Lately social media has been taking a huge dive as far as organic reach or algorithms go, I think its safe to say we are all aware of that. But in ways im kind of glad for that as it has kept me away from the distraction of social media upkeep and what not. I post something maybe once a week on my social networks, sometimes I will share some info about a new video I released on my website. But for sure Instagram has been my main selling point for business etc. I am still unsure to this day as to how it grew so quickly over just a year or two most likely because of my unique style and vision. To many artists these days are way to busy trying to copy each others work and I find this being one major reason why so many fail or can't gain traction. Be yourself and the rest will fall into place. It's simple.

:: What is the scariest thing that has happened to you while on a shoot?

The scariest thing that ever happened to me while on a shoot occurred during a workshop my friend Derek and I were teaching. I was up shooting some wildflowers high in Mt. Rainier with a student while the others were off in the distance. I remember them all screaming and yelling at us but couldn't make out what they were saying. Then I turned around and saw this giant black bear barreling down the mountain side towards my student and I. I literally through my camera gear in my bag and ran so quickly I think the sounds coming out of me at this point scared the bear away LOL.

:: What is your favorite piece of non-photographic gear and why?

My favorite piece of non photographic gear would have to be my bear mace. Taking this can out with me during the long night hikes has always made me feel a small bit better then without it.

:: What is the Luminary Light Collective?

The luminary Light Collective was started by myself a few years ago as a place to share high quality imagery on Facebook. It grew into a website eventually just for something fun but since then have split up with my partners from back then. So it no longer exists.

:: What advantages do you think cameras offer a creative individual that other mediums don't…and is this a good thing?

I think cameras are a great medium to sharing creativity in a natural world,depending on how you wish to use the camera of course. Me, in my specific body of work I like to combine my vision with my camera and then paint that vision onto a digital canvas to share with others.

:: What are you looking forward to most in 2018, photographically?

A few things I am looking forward to as far as 2018 goes with photography, number one being a break!. I will be taking the rest of this year off from workshops or teaching Skype classes so I can enjoy some solo trips and adventures. I find between teaching photography as well as working full time, I never have time to shoot on my own. This has taken a major toll out of my own self inspiration or motivation to get out and shoot things. This is one major reason why I have released two tutorial videos recently that teaches all my processing etc. It has helped free up major time for myself to enjoy photography and the passion again.

:: What would be one piece of advice you'd pass on to a new photographer?

Some advice I could give to a new photographer and this is typically the advice I give to everyone that asks. Do what makes you happy when it comes to your own art, there are no bounds nor rules in this creative world. Follow what makes you happy when it comes to creating. Whether a photo be photoshopped or pure. Do what YOU enjoy not what others enjoy.

:: Living in Canada you have access to a lot of different areas, (some are still very popular)…but is there a difference between the landscape photographers in Canada, and in the US?

I don't think there are particular differences to the landscape photographers here in Canada vs the USA, I do however notice there are much more photographers in the USA then over here in Canada. It has started to become far more popular in Canada over the past 5 years or so. I have noticed a lot of people tend to follow trends of certain social media giants. A lot of photographers trying to shoot the same spots and same style as each other.

:: With so many photographers in this field now, and there's certainly more all the time... what do you think makes your work different from others?

I believe my work stands out and is noticed differently because of the way I am self taught. I did develop a lot of my own techniques and style over the past several years. When I share an image, people typically know its my image before even reading who posted it. This I find is important to develop your own style to stand out from others.

Daniel Greenwood

Do what makes you happy when it comes to your own art, there are no bounds nor rules in this creative world. Follow what makes you happy when it comes to creating...

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