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Photographer Spotlight: Dane Deaner

Dane, how did you come to discover photography?

When I was 16 I applied for a job at Circuit City (rest in peace). I thought I would become a cashier but they decided to put me in the computer/photography department of the store. This was my first introduction to photography, having to learn the cameras inside and out in order to sell them. This is also around the time I scraped together enough overtime cash to buy my first camera, the Canon Rebel XTI. May this also be a lesson that anyone working in the computer or photography department section of an electronics store most likely has no idea what’s going on.

What is one of your favorite places to explore or photograph? This can be two places or one place that really inspires you!

Anywhere I haven’t been is usually the most inspiring. I just recently got back from a trip through the Eastern Sierras though and that’s always been one of my favorite places to shoot and explore. You get any and all types of conditions while traveling across the Eastern Sierras. It’s really one of the more remarkable places to explore in the United States. Alabama Hills, Big Pine, Death Valley, Bristlecone Forest, Mammoth Mountain, Mount Whitney, the list goes on.

Are there any places you have yet to discover or travel to that you can’t wait to experience?

Too many. Iceland, Norway, and Canada to name a few off the top of my head. I pretty much want to freeze my ass off I guess. I haven’t found myself in a lot of insane conditions when it comes to the cold or snow and that’s definitely a muscle I want to stretch as a photographer and as a curious human.

Do you have a favorite photograph that you are really proud of? Or a few if there are more than one?

I’ve always thought that the best photographs are the ones that truly can’t be planned or imagined until the moment. That’s why we love a candid photograph of a family member or a shot that really captured a place in time while we were somewhere new or unexpected. I like the idea of a favorite photograph. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just pick a favorite like that? If I could choose 3 shots to put in a safe that would sink with the Titanic, these would probably be them.

What is the one thing that you learned that has helped your photography skills that you wish you knew sooner?
If you’re handheld, try not to let the shutter speed get under 160. I went so many years shooting between 60-100 off a tripod because I didn’t pay attention in my high school photography class. If you were expecting a groundbreaking tip or trick, I don’t really have them. Shoot your ass off for a long time, make mistakes and learn how to fix them. There’s really no secret remedy to it. This goes for anything, not just clicking a shutter.
Was photography something you knew you always wanted to do or was there some event or moment that sparked your interest?

I knew I always wanted to create. Photography was really the first medium I used to create anything artistically. I played the guitar before that but never took it that seriously. I blame my guitar instructor for joining Kelly Clarkson on tour and leaving me behind. I saw him eating at a Mexican food restaurant about 6 years ago in Los Angeles and he didn’t really recognize me. Not sure why I’m thinking about that. I was the guy who shot my friends skating, paintballing and doing extremely stupid things after school. I don’t really remember a time when anyone said I was any good at it but I always just really enjoyed it. My first ever published image was in a paintball magazine called FACEFULL. I’m gonna see if I can dig it up for this.

Shooting paintball tournaments was my first glimpse into what it took to be a professional photographer and what I realized is, I was miles away from that. But when you’re 16 years old lying on the turf of a paintball field with paint whizzing by your head, you feel like you’ve made it to the big time. I continued to shoot here and there for fun and for friends. Headshots for actors I knew, images for a brand I created (Keet Warrin), weekend trips, you get the idea. When I was 19 I worked for
the creative department at Interscope Records. We would handle all of the photography for album covers, advertisements, and marketing. It was there that I met Meeno Peluce, one of their primary photographers at the time. Long story long, Meeno invited me to assist him on shoots after he saw me sweeping confetti off the floor after an LMFAO music video shoot. I assisted Meeno for two years and learned more in that time than any photography school or youtube tutorials could teach you. I learned how to prepare, shoot and behave like a professional photographer. Meeno inspired me to be a photographer and most importantly, he inspired me to be a happy human. Not sure how much he realizes that. It only took another 6 years for this to all come full circle.

Can you tell me more about the Darkroom podcast? How are you involved with them?

The podcast! I host the Darkroom podcast which you can listen to on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher, etc. Anywhere with a podcast pulse. I was selling prints on when the founders Anders Bill and Theo Chapman relocated the company to Los Angeles. We met up for a cup of coffee and the podcast was sparked in that conversation. We wanted to create something that allowed for real conversations with some of the biggest full-time creators on the planet. Fast forward a year and I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with creators like Chris Burkard, Alex Strohl, Scott Belsky, and Joe Greer to name a handful. Definitely check it out and subscribe even if you don’t want to!
Check out the podcast here!

You and your wife recently moved to California. What is Whiskey Creek? How do you like living within the wilderness?
We both grew up in the Los Angeles area and still live in Los Angeles today. We went camping in Idyllwild back in 2018 and fell in love with the place. It really feels like the perfect little mountain town.
There’s tons of hiking and climbing to be done up on the mountain and there are a few lakes for fishing or just hanging out and catching an insane sunset. We both knew we wanted to buy a cabin in 2019 and Idyllwild felt like the perfect place. Whiskey Creek was born on January 28th, 2019. You can see it on Instagram @whiskeycreekcabin and you can get a better look through Airbnb if you want to see it in person. We’re absolutely stoked on it. Our two-year-old pup Vinny loves it as well.
Book it on Airbnb! 

If you had to give one piece of advice to live by what would it be?

There is absolutely no point to go about life doing something you don’t enjoy. No one cares what anyone else is doing, how hard they’re working or how much money they have in their bank account. Think about it. Exactly. Why would you spend your time awake doing something you didn’t enjoy. It doesn’t make sense. Everything comes with a price though and obviously you won’t be stoked every second of the day even doing what you love. I absolutely hate emailing and doing revisions for clients. Is the juice worth the squeeze, though? Absolutely. Find something you would be happy to do day in and day out, expect to be pissed off 10% of the time and stop caring about what other people think. I promise they’re usually not thinking about anyone but themselves.