Daniel Herron has been a photographer for 20 years. He was in Los Angeles for 4 years shooting for MGM's Home Video division taking publicity stills of the studio celebrities for promotions in magazines and entertainment industry publications. Daniel has expanded his scope into the Travel and Leisure industry doing assignment work for Sheraton Hotels and Resorts in the Hawaiian Islands and Fiji, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts in California and in-flight magazines for airlines. Recently Daniel contracted with a stock image company in Hawaii, with affiliates through out Asia and Europe. The company supplies travel and leisure images to airlines and resorts worldwide.
Daniel is also in the process of pitching a Travel Show (Exotic Photo Trips), that he wrote, for television and the internet that will feature travel destinations worldwide. (Anybody from the Travel Channel out there looking?)
Splash: When did you know you wanted to be a photographer?
Daniel: I had a casual interest in taking pictures since I was twelve and then saw this film by Michelangelo Antonionis call Blowup, staring actor David Hemming, who played a master London photographer who explores the city twenty-four hours a day. I was fascinated and hooked on getting into photography and within a week of seeing the film I had my first 35mm camera!
Splash: What is a photography job like?
Daniel: Well, there are lots of different types of jobs and subjects to be shot. The majority of sessions I have are headshot for actors and comp card shoots for models as well as commercial and editorial work. Currently I’m moving into travel photography. I find each shoot unique, be it the personality of an actor or talent that I am working with, the product we are shooting or the constant changing environment of a scenic shot for travel. So basically it’s never a dull moment or predictable situation.
Splash: What does a photographer look for in a picture?
Daniel: Sometimes it’s not what the photographer looks for but the art director if it’s a commercial or editorial shoot but usually balance in composition and to capture what the image is trying to say and make it even more than one dimensional. I really like simplicity in an image, such as Japanese art and landscaping.
Splash: What do you like most about being a photographer?
Daniel: The challenge of whatever the subject is to shoot and how to make it look exceptional is stimulating. Meeting people and now travel photography especially. There are so many amazing places, cultures, and people. I think that through travel and meeting people with cultures different from ours we grow and become more open.
Splash: What is most challenging about being a photographer?
Daniel: In shooting for art directors, actors, etc. you have to go for what they want and not particularly what you want. Hopefully you have a nice meeting of the minds. I do as much homework ahead of the project to know as much as possible to know about the shoot and image the client is going for.
Splash: What makes a good day for you?
Daniel: I remember getting up before sunrise in Hawaii to go and shoot a full day of island scenic, beaches, volcanic mountains, waterfalls, and Hawaiian dancers. I returned to my hotel about 7:00 p.m. that evening, completely exhausted, but I had the most satisfied feeling of really putting in a great day and having just the images I wanted to capture. It’s not always about the money but the personal satisfaction that you really put in an extraordinary amount of effort and got the results you were going for! Also a nice long shower and refreshing Mai Tai helps!
Splash: What was your first job out of photography college?
Daniel: My first commercial job was as a photo journalist shooting for a Boston newspaper on Marineworld USA. Following that assignment was a shocker as I was asked to photograph photographer Ansel Adams at his home in Carmel, CA. What an experience that was, I was a nervous wreck but the results were good!
Splash: Why did you switch from headshots to travel?
Daniel: I’m actually still doing the headshots for actors until the full transition takes place into travel photography, but I have always enjoyed getting on a plane and going to new and exciting destinations. Then to have it paid through your photography - that’s the dream scenario for me.
Splash: What does a travel photographer do?
Daniel: In addition to taking photos, there's a ton of pre-planning on your destination: deciding when is the best time of the year (weather wise) to shoot a particular spot, travel arrangements, back-up gear (if out in remote areas), local assistants, translators if needed.
Splash: What are your favorite destinations?
Daniel: Warm exotic spots. I’ve always loved the Hawaiian Islands and its people. It is such an amazing culture. All of the Polynesian history is fascinating. Next I would say Thailand - my brother lives in Bangkok and I’ve been there many times. There are some beautiful tropical islands in the gulf of Thailand and on the Andaman Sea. Baja Mexico is great. I’ve been fortunate to visit a lot of countries in Europe as well. They are all unique in their own way.
Splash: What’s the difference between digital photography and regular photography?
Daniel: A lot of that is personal taste. I know lots of photographers who have stayed with film and really like the look of film. For me, it took a while for the technology to make digital looking as good as film and now it's just fine for me and clients.
Some of the benefits of digital are the cost reduction of re-using of memory vs. the cost of film and processing. Also you can see the image immediately on the back of the camera or a computer with the added cost of a digital back. Just a few of the benefits of digital. On the other side of the coin, digital camera's are more expensive and I find myself updating with software continually can be a bit costly. Overall I personally like the fact that you can immediately start to crop, enhance, whatever you like, with the images thru Photoshop, Light room and other such software.
Splash: What photographers inspire you?
Daniel: Mario Casali, who shot for Playboy and TV Guide, really got me inspired just from a casual seminar I attended years ago. Also the works of Ansel Adams, Patrick Demarchelier, Francesco Scavullo and Anne Libowitz. There are many others but I would say these great talents have had the most impression on me.
Splash: What do people coming into this field need to know?
Daniel: I would suggest getting an inexpensive point and shoot digital camera and experiment with that for a while first. See where that leads you and how your interest is after a while. As for the next level, it’s not particularly inexpensive with the high end gear, camera, computer, software, etc. that is needed. You can also rent to get started. If you have the passion and feel, you have the talent, then you should follow your intuitions and go for it! I would say go to seminars, lectures on equipment and new software and techniques. Learn as much as you can. Most of these lectures are free from manufactures and at your local pro-camera stores. Again, if you really want to try something go for it and just listen to your own thoughts and not the dogma of others. Be tenacious and stick with it - it can be very rewarding!
Daniel is a very busy man, he also produced a TV pilot on travel photography that he is currently seeking a network to produce. Daniel has also contributed photos of children in poverty to the United Nations Association. Daniel is currently in Thailand shooting in the souths tropical images on the Andaman Sea, locations of popular tourist spot, Phuket Island.
Daniel Herron has a calmness about him and wants each and every photo shoot to be the best ever. When he takes pictures he's very serious and doesn't just snap. He analyses and looks deeper into his subject. However, his sense of humor is what makes him a pleasure to be around. He'll make you laugh to get you to smile and his witty sense of humor will keep you laughing. He's a hard working man with the world as his canvas.
If you'd like to contact Daniel about travel images or his TV show please email him at the following: [email protected] or visit his website: www.danielherron.com
Tradition Hawaiin Dancers
A Traditional Thai Dancer
Sunset Kata Beach Phuket
The Grand Palace Bangkok
Daniel Herron Interview - Freelance Photographer and TV Producer