For this week’s Media Monday, we’d like you to meet Daniel Berman, editorial and commercial photographer whose work has appeared in publications such as The London Telegraph, The New York Times and Seattle Weekly.
1. How did you find yourself as a photographer?
I got started in high school working for the newspaper and small weekly newspapers around Seattle and always did lots of shoots for myself. I kept at it, completing internships with SeattlePI.com and at Western Washington University’s Office of Communication, eventually graduating and developing a great mix of client and personal work. While I got my start in photojournalism, I have gravitated to portraits because I enjoy meeting new people and being able to tell stories through the unique power of the human connection.
2. Which of your photos are you most proud of?
I am proud of my portrait of Jeff Bezos for The London Telegraph; I had only 15 minutes with the Amazon CEO and was able to shoot four different looks with my assistant calling out three-minute intervals. Bezos called me a master of efficiency. I am also proud of my personal work series on Elvis tribute artists that I made at a performance in Seattle a few years ago. I did the work just for me, and it has lead to some interesting opportunities since then. But I am proud of it because it was created completely independently and I was able to make these really intimate portraits of people I had just met, all incredible singers with this intense passion for Elvis. I had just a minute or two with each person before they went on stage so it was fun to draw out their personalities. More recently, I was granted the opportunity to photograph Snoop Dogg for Northwest Leaf magazine. I asked for 1 minute of time with the rapper and was ultimately granted just 39 seconds before his agent whisked him away. Being able to capture such a powerful icon was an amazing experience.
3. What is your favorite thing about your job?
I enjoy challenges and working in a variety of environments and getting to step into people’s worlds for a brief moment. I really like the first seconds when someone has stepped in front of my camera. There are so many possibilities and it’s a wonderful dance.
4. What do you look for in a story or photograph?
I like working on stories about people from all walks of life. A successful picture for me is one where the viewer can connect with the person without any further details.
5. What is your day like at your job?
Every day is different and work tends to come in clumps, often last-minute. So being able to respond quickly and execute successfully is something I have had to learn. Some weeks are busier than others. I may have a shoot each day lasting from a few hours to the entire day — and before that ever happens there is pre-production and logistical planning, going over my shoot direction with my client and managing other variables. A simple job usually requires a dozen emails.
6. Who do you most look up to in the journalism industry?
People who are able to make beautiful work in spite of the many obstacles our industry faces. With slashed budgets, increased workload and tough deadlines, all my friends in local Seattle media deserve a commendation.
7. What is your favorite news outlet?
My client The New York Times sets such a high bar for their work, from design to in-depth reporting to their brilliant use of photography and multimedia. They are tough to beat.
8. Fill in the blank:
- If I am not photographing, I am…Editing pictures, reading magazines, catching up with friends, enjoying Seattle’s coffee/bar/restaurant/music scene.
- If I could photograph anyone, it would be…I would love to make a portrait of Willie Nelson to complete my trifecta of marijuana celebrities with Snoop Dogg and Tommy Chong.
- My favorite thing about Seattle is…The amazing creative community that supports each other.
9. What is your guilty pleasure?
Ramen is so damn good.