Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Master of contemporary street photography... interview with DANNY SANTOS.

Danny is a famous street photographer from Singapore. Be sure to check out his amazing portfolio on flickr   and website about his current photography project: "...just last year, I started another portraiture project called Portraits of Strangers where I would approach a stranger and ask if I could take their photo."

Here's great portrait from Danny's portfolio and the interview:

1Q) Can you please tell us the story behind this portrait? How you took it and why you choose to shoot this person?
The first thing I noticed about her was the sense of confidence that fits well with her stand out tattoo. I just knew I had to take her photo. So I just aimed at her from a distance, and shot continuously until she turned and looked at me. Then I just put my camera down and walked away. This was my last frame... the only shot that captured her eye contact. 

2Q) What photography gear you used here and why? What is usually in your photo bag?
I used a Nikon D300 with a Nikkor 85mm f1.4 AFD lens. The 85mm is perfect for street portraits like this one because it can make the subject stand out by bringing a shallow DOF thus blurring the background. Whenever I'm out shooting in the streets, I don't usually bring a photo bag. I just lug around a camera body and a preferred lens, and that's it. I've learned that most of the time, that's pretty much all I need, and a camera bag and other stuff just adds unnecessary bulk.

3Q) What do you love most about shooting portraits?
I love getting that chance to bring out a piece of the subject's character across a single frame while at the same time introducing a mystery that makes you even more intrigued and wanting to learn more about that subject. 

4Q) Do you consider yourself mostly as a “portrait” photographer?
My first love is street photography. I've been shooting in the streets for almost 3 years now. It was only lately that portraiture caught my eye. And I'd like to concentrate on this now and see what I can come up with. For me, it's a transition between shooting candids from a distance to shooting portraits up close and personal. It's a challenge, and it's pretty exciting :)

5Q) Do you work with available light or do you use additional lightning often?
I always shoot with available light since I always shoot in the streets, even the portraits I've taken so far. I like how natural it looks and the rawness it brings to the photograph. But I would like to broaden my horizon and start working with strobes. 

6Q) What/Who are your photography muses and influences?
My early influences are street photography masters like Garry Winogrand, william Klein, Daido Moriyama, Trent Parke, and Philip-Lorca DiCorcia. Lately, my photography idols are Annie Leibovitz, Benoit Paille, Zhang Jingna, Lara Jade, Joey L, and a lot more. I always look for new inspiration. 

7Q) Any tip for taking better portraits?
Avoid that usual snapshot smile... that smile that you've smiled a million times whenever you're in front of the camera. Bring out the subject's natural look. It'll make for a more interesting portrait.

Thank you, Danny!


  1. Danny, i think you click with your heart... i am in awe of your photography and your vision!

  2. Great photos, and good questions.