While strolling through Dan Dalstra’s online gallery, you have to wonder if there is a giant team of photographers under the Dan Dalstra Photography umbrella. The images this man produces, are so various in their stories, one would assume there are several different minds behind them. Instead, there is only one. One brain, one set of eyes, and one degree in photojournalism that allows the magic storytelling to bleed through every photo.
“My original career path was going to be an Advertising guy! I loved the AD biz. Until I needed an art credit and took a photography class. I immediately started shooting for the college yearbook and the student newspaper. I ended up graduating from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism with a degree in Photojournalism. I freaking loved it. I loved that every day was completely different and I might go from covering a kids bake sale in the morning then an NFL game that night. I got to witness history unfolding before me. And that’s how I approach weddings; this is a couple’s history happening right here, in front of my lens.”
So much happens in front of Dan’s lens. There are things that Dan sees during a wedding that many a guest would never have noticed, or even thought noteworthy. Somehow, Dan sees things differently. “Of course we all have to shoot stuff we don’t like, but keep your vision in mind, and take the kind of photos you love.”
Cultivating your own vision is one of the most important lessons for Dan Dalstra. He encourages newcomers in the industry to begin with this lesson. “As photographers start their careers, my biggest piece of advice would be to shoot. A lot. And while you are shooting, look less at what other people are doing, and shoot for yourself. This will help you develop your own style, and as your vision emerges, you will start to attract the type of clients that you want.” A great piece of advice for any creative.
Dan goes on to address specifically new photographers. “My other piece of advice for new photogs would be to get a basic knowledge of Off Camera Flash. I’m not talking about sticking 12 lights in different zones around the reception, but just learning how to use one light off camera will help so much when faced with dark reception halls, or challenging situations. Think of it as just another tool in the tool box. You may love shooting natural light, but when faced with the cave-like conditions of some venues, it’s good to have some options.“
He is so passionate about off-camera flash, he put together a workshop for anyone and everyone. To ensure that he does not give an all-work-and-no-play kinda workshop, he put the fun right in the name…”Flash Me.”
While you do have to take your work serious to be able to make a full-time living as an independent photographer for 6 years, Dan Dalstra pours playfulness into everything he does. Striking the balance between work and personal life is as much a goal to this husband and father as running a successful business. “Working from home has it’s challenges, but I’d much rather be the one picking up my kids from school, helping with homework, and hugging the tears away, than stuck in a cubicle working 9-5. Plus, Dan Dalstra Photography comes with a gym membership and Mimosa Mondays, so I can’t complain about that either!“
This optimist definitely brings his zest for life to every event he captures, and everything he touches, really. “I’ve always tried to live and conduct business with a smile on my face and with an infectious enthusiasm.” So, if you haven’t yet, you have to check out how he has infused his funny way of looking at life into every platform he can. For example, this promo video is unlike any we have seen in the industry.
A professional and playful video shows future clients they will get the images they want, they will have fun while he captures them, and a smile will be brought to their face every time they look at that image for the rest of their life. His Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts all accomplish this same effect. Don’t take our word, go seek out Dan for yourself. You won’t regret it.
If you are looking for more inspiration, Dan has some insight on that, too. “…the photographers that inspired me were all working photojournalists like Ami Vitale, James Nachtwey, Scott Strazzante, and of course the ridiculous staff at National Geographic. As I started migrating toward weddings, I found I loved the work of people who were former newspaper shooters like Ben and Erin Chrisman, Daniel and Davina Kudish, and Tyler Wirken. Currently I still follow these guys religiously, but I am also so inspired by people like Lanny and Erika Mann, Fer Juaristi, Crystal Stokes, Todd Laffler, Victor Lax, and Dennis Berti. Mind. Blown.”
Yes. To quote Dan Dalstra on how we feel about Dan Dalstra, “Mind. Blown.”
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