Featured Photographer – Danny Santos II
STREET PORTRAITURE BY DANNY ST
From the urban street of Orchard Road rises a name Danny Santos II, a Filipino graphic designer based in Singapore.
DannySt, Photo Courtesy of John Clive
He is making headlines in the blog-o-sphere and appeared in numerous blog interviews all the way from Boston, Italy, Austria, Germany and Russia to name a few. In fact, his facebook ‘like’ page is 2,000+ strong and increasing. What made him stand out from the ‘over-wannabe’ world of Photographers is his style. Street Photography a-la Danny St.
His photo Stranger #47 and #65 landed #1 in Flickr’s Explore. (‘Explore’ is Flickr’s countdown of the top 500 photos of the day-ed). To see more of Danny’s, you can visit his photoblog on his site. www.dannyst.com.
(Click to Enlarge) Stranger #47
This is line_ache taking pride and saying thanks to Danny St. for this interview, and to Renn Rementilla, Admin of MASP – A pinoy photography forum based in Singapore.
“The perfect street moment comes only once in a blue moon, but when it comes to you, it’s worth the wait, so have the patience of a saint.”
IPL: You have the patience of a Saint, Danny, in fact, you carry it in your name:-
Danny: Ahaha yeah it’s something that doesn’t come easily. But as soon as you get some good results, it makes you want to shoot more thus making the patience part a little easier.
Can we call you St. Danny? – It can be street Danny or Saint Danny…
I’m no Saint, man… Just plain ‘Danny’ is good for me :)
Welcome to IPL Danny. Can you please tell us who is Danny Santos II 10 years ago?
Ok, here goes.. I grew up in Davao City but moved to QC to attend college in U.P. Diliman. After that, I went back to my hometown work for a few years until I finally decided to go back to Manila to see if I can make it there alone. Fortunately, I did. It was exactly 10 years ago that I started living alone in my pad in Makati, working as a graphic designer. That was a pretty big milestone for me.
What brought you here in SG 2 years ago?
I was working as the lead designer for the Information Services department of an audio manufacturing company. They decided to transfer the core team from the Makati office to its main office in Singapore. It was a stroke of luck for me.
Before you came here in SG, do you have any background in Photography?
Nope. I just knew I wanted to try out photography. When I got here in SG, that was the time I first held a DSLR. I got a Nikon D80 with a humble 55-200mm VR lens, and I had absolutely no idea how to use it. I bought a ‘how to’ book on D80’s as well as Scott Kelby’s first 2 volumes of ‘The Digital Photography Book’. That was my first exposure to the wonderful world of photography. But still, by then, I had no idea what I wanted to shoot… I just knew I wanted to shoot. So I started with flowers, cats, sunsets, landscapes… until I saw street photographs in Flickr. That’s when I knew I wanted to shoot in the streets.
Two girls running barefoot
What do you do on weekdays Danny?
I work as a graphic designer. I also like running or swimming after office hours whenever I can. I’m also a movie buff so I love watching movies either at home or in the cinemas with my girlfriend.
Does being a web and graphic designer have anything to do with your Photography? Does it gave you an advantage?
Maybe it does when trying to be creative in your shots, since being a graphic designer is all about being creative. A definite advantage though is my knowledge in Photoshop, which makes the learning curve quite easy when it comes to post-processing photos. The workflow in Photoshop, however, on being a graphic designer and being a photographer is totally different.
Why Street Photography?
It’s very real, and it’s unprepared. There’s nothing like getting that perfect shot out of an environment that does not cooperate with you… not the weather, not the subjects, and not the situation. It’s a challenge, but when things go your way, it’s all worth it.
Is it by chance, or anybody influenced you to go out and do Street photography?
It was because of my constant surfing in Flickr that I got to discover street photography. Then from there, I learned about the classic masters like Garry Winogrand, Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Klein, Daido Moriyama and more. There was no turning back from it… I knew I had to at least try shooting in the streets.
I remember one ‘original street photographer’ from Luneta once said, “ Younger generation nowadays call themselves photographers because they can buy and flaunt their branded DSLR, pricey glass and accessories, yet, they still, are not. What is Danny’s definition of a Photographer?
A photographer is someone who knows how to create a photograph that can engage people, initiate emotion, spark a conversation, or influence a smile. And a photographer knows that gear is only one of so many factors that can help him create a photograph that can do all these things.
One of my favourite shot of yours is the urban warrior. (2nd to the blanchett look- alike) It depicts your courage to shoot if it is necessary. How do you conquer your fear shooting strangers, Danny?
I actually haven’t really conquered the fear, I just learned to shoot through it… for the sake of a good photograph. One of the things I’ve learned after shooting in the streets for 2 years is that the fear will never go away. Maybe it will after 5 years.. or 10. :)
Am I right to say I can sense an artist in you Danny? you’re not only good in your style of shooting and choosing whom to shoot, you’re also good in writing…
Hey thanks, man. I’d like to consider myself somewhat an artist, I hope other people agree, though :)
Before you go out during the weekend, do you have any preferred shots in mind?
Danny: Yes… I always look at the weather to see what kind of shots I can make with it. I always have to adjust on the weather. If it’s bright and sunny, I want to play with light. If it rains, I bring my umbrella along to take rain shots. If it’s cloudy, I want to take portraits. Recently though, I’ve only been working on my “Portraits of Strangers” projects where I ask strangers in the street if I can take their photo. (see his sets here)
A ‘perfect street shoot’ in the Philippines would be like…
The only place I’ve shot in the streets in the Philippines is in my hometown, Davao City, 2 years ago when I was on vacation. I would imagine it would be good to just roam around for a whole week and shoot in the crowded streets of Quiapo, Baclaran, Divisoria, Greenhills, or Cubao, of course provided that security wouldn’t be an issue. It would also be great to shoot on upscale areas like Ayala Ave, Bonifacio High Street, or Greenbelt.
Kindly please share us your views about:
- Colour – correcting an image – If it’s saturating or desaturating the colors of an image, I’m good with it. However, I don’t like selective coloring where only a part is in color and the rest of the image is black & white. I think it’s cheap.
- Post Processing – When I was starting out with photography, I used to be an SOOC (straight-out-of-camera) purist. Eventually, I realized how naïve I was. Post processing is an integral part of photography, not just in digital photography. This has been going on since the film era through dark room processing.
- HDR and Vertorama – I’m not a big fan of this.
- ‘Brand – Conscious’ Photographer – Well, to each his own. I never believed having a particular brand of camera can make you a better photographer.
- Mac or PC – I use a PC at work, and a Mac at home. If I had a choice, I’d stick with Mac all the way… it’s really just a different experience.
- I can’t make beautiful photograph because I don’t have the camera and glass like Danny. - If you always think like that, then you’ll never be able to get good photographs. I didn’t start photography with the camera and glass that I have now. Even if you just have basic gear but couple that with great true passion for photography, I know that you can eventually make better photographs than I do.
Who is your Hero Danny?
I have a lot. And I always discover new ones while I treasure old ones :)
If I will look into Danny’s Bag during a weekend in Orchard, what would I see?
I actually don’t carry a bag when shooting in Orchard. I just have my camera slung on my shoulders and a compact umbrella in my cargo shorts :) I like to shoot lite. I use a Nikon D300 with my trusty 85mm f1.4 lens.
Street Photography is now associated to your name Danny, if I Google Street Photography, you are number 3 or four in the rank
Wow, I never knew that until you mentioned it! But looking further into it, that’s only the case in google.sg :) But still, it’s good. I guess shooting all those strangers and writing up all those blog entries is starting to pay off :)
Any words to your growing followers?
Don’t take short cuts. If you have the passion for photography, read the manual, learn the basics, shoot persistently, and look relentlessly for inspiration.
Thank you St. Danny.