Dressing up is more than just putting on coordinating clothes and accessories—it's a reflection of an individual's personality, creative mindset, and even the experiences that shaped them. Fashion and editorial photographer Daniel Stewart knows this too well.
On his work, he doesn't only focus on the fabric of the dress or the height of the heels. He's more tuned in on how these pieces of garments combine to bring out his muses' innermost thoughts and emotions. In this interview, Stewart talks about how his passion for fashion grew from his fascination with cars and shares some of the stylish snapshots he captured with the LomoChrome Purple.
Hello, Danny! Welcome to the Lomography Magazine. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Thanks for having me! My name is Daniel Stewart but everyone calls me Danny or dannyphoto, and I’m a photographer and cinematographer based in Chicago, Illinois. I’m self taught and I’ve been shooting for about four years now! I'm currently focusing on fashion/editorial work and shooting primarily on medium format film.
When did you begin to consider yourself as a photographer?
I think I started considering myself a photographer when my mom told me I was. As funny as that may sound, my mom has always been my biggest support system. Before I wanted to take photos, I wanted to be a car designer. I was about 12 years old and we already agreed on the college I was going to go to, the scholarships I was going to apply for, it was great. Unfortunately, I stopped drawing, but I still had that passion for cars. I started following all these car pages on Instagram and saw the crazy photos of cars and I was immediately drawn to the idea of automotive photography. My mom bought me a cheap little point-and-shoot and a 35mm film camera and made sure I took my camera with me everywhere. She encouraged me to enter competitions and things of that nature and one day she was telling her friend I was a photographer now and the rest is history.
Your work focuses mostly on street fashion and portraiture. What is it about these subjects that draw you into photographing them?
It's just something about photographing people in nice clothes honestly. I believe there are two ways to see someones soul: through their eyes and through their clothes. You can learn a lot about a person by the way they dress. Also, when I first began shooting, I was afraid to take photos of people. I was scared they wouldn’t like them or that I would make them look bad. Eventually I branched out and studied the work of artists like David Lachapelle and Annie Leibovitz and it blew my mind. I was hooked from then on.
We spotted your surreal photographs shot with the LomoChrome Purple. Can you tell us the story about this shoot?
Yeah so, its pretty simple. I watched Beasts of No Nation and fell in love with the jungle scenes and seeing how the infrared film transported them to essentially another world. The effect is something I had previously mimicked digitally, but then I found out about LomoChrome Purple and decided to give it a try. Knowing that it was made to shift the green spectrum, I decided to head to the conservatory with my friends Jada and Nahomi. Jada styled them both and she knew what the film did so she made sure they were both in vibrant wardrobes. It was fun to experiment with and I can’t wait to get my hands on some more!
How was it working with a color-changing film like the LomoChrome Purple?
It was interesting! I had to stop and look at the color changing index a few times mid shoot to make sure I wasn’t going to have any clashing. It made me see things differently because I was envisioning the colors of the foliage and the clothes as the colors they would be represented as when the film was developed. I was also shocked at the latitude and forgiveness of the film.
How do you prepare for a shoot?
I make sure I discuss the concept with the models as much as possible. We bounce ideas off one another and treat it as a true collaboration. I do a lot of Instagram hunting as well, just looking for inspiration and ideas that could help push our concept to the next level. From a technical aspect, I make sure I set an alarm on my phone the night before to make sure all my batteries and bags are ready to go. There’s nothing worse than getting to your location and realizing you forgot to pack properly.
In this digital age, what is the pull of shooting on film?
Digitally, I shoot with a Sony A7rii. I love it to death, but for me, shooting medium format is just unbeatable. Also, as cliche as it sounds, there’s no way to replicate the feeling of film. You can use VSCO and other filters as much as you want, but side-by-side there is no comparison. I’m also a sucker for the feeling I get when I get my negatives back. That instant gratification with digital just doesn’t make me feel as warm inside, you know? Beyond the visual aspect, it genuinely makes me slow down and make sure that whatever I’m pressing the shutter button for is worth it! I’ll take 10 (6x7) or 16 (645) photos and my hit rate is much much higher than it would be if I was shooting digital.
What inspires you?
My friends, my life, my emotions.
In your opinion, what makes a good photograph?
A good photograph makes you feel “saucy” on the inside, but perpetually. When you find yourself looking at your images in awe. A good image is going to be good forever. We (photographers) all know the feeling of taking a “great photo” one day and then the next day we can’t explain why we ever liked it in the first place. A “good photograph” makes you say “damn…” every time you see it.
Any dream collaboration in mind?
Man, it would be dope to work with Tyler Shields, honestly. Also wouldn’t mind shooting a Fenty lookbook down the road!
What’s next for you?
Right now I’m just planning out my first solo exhibition. After that, maybe a zine or a book. I’m not entirely sure, but I have an amazing feeling about this year!
To see more of Daniel Stewart's work, head to his website.