Not a man of many words, Daniel Sears lets his photography speak for him and if, as the saying goes, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ then Daniel’s pictures tells double for each one of them.
‘Dano,’ as he is fondly referred to, is already making great strides in photography at just 19. This year marks three years since he took up the profession.
“Photography started with me always having a love for taking selfies and photos of random things. I have a cousin Shane, who had a camera and I was always titivating with it so I persuaded my dad into buying me a camera,” Daniel said, in a sit down with The Scene.
He began by taking photos of family and soon people were commending him on his work. At the time, he was attending School of the Nations. One night after school, he decided to better his skill by watching a few videos on YouTube. These tutorials soon became part of his daily routine whenever he was at home, practicing what he learnt every time he stepped outside with his camera in his hand. Karl Taylor, B&H Photography and Adorama became his top three favourites on YouTube. Even at school when there was assembly or an event, Dano would use the school’s camera to take photos. Today they call on him first.
Although he was equipped with better skills after some time to get into the profession, Dano was skeptical about whether he would be needed and/or if his work would make any difference at all with so many persons having taken up the profession here in Guyana. After much deliberation he finally decided to give photography a try having convinced himself that he was bringing his own flair into the business.
To get his work noticed, he did what many persons do before getting into the business – a number of photoshoots free, bearing the expenses himself. He began with his own friends and then word got around. It was these same friends, he said, who encouraged him to pursue photography. Though remains grateful for those friends, Dano shared, it’s strangers who commended his work and made him see even more value in what he did, because they were the ones who felt no pressure because of friendship to encourage him and saw his work as it was.
But the critiques were not all positive, some people blatantly said his work was that of a copycat. “They’d say ‘he’s just like that or just like this or he reminds me of….’, they never allowed me to find my individuality. At my age I felt really offended but one of my good friends said that no matter what I did, people will always criticize and so I began ignoring most of the criticisms,” said Dano. He ignored whatever he thought might destroy the person he was but took consideration of the ones that were constructive in how he could better his skill.
A look at any of his photos shows how much he tries to keep it natural. He tries to steer clear from photography that looks like it has been filtered. He does do some editing but nothing drastic. Apart from capturing moments for his clients, Dano wants them to love themselves for what they look like, the reason why he tries to keep his photos as natural as possible.
Dano has since worked along with other professionals including, Keno George, Terrence Thompson and Saajid Hussain. It was one of Saajid’s photography courses that helped him with shooting in manual mode. Before that, every shot was taken in auto, but after two classes, Dano left auto behind for good. One of the most important lessons he learned at the course was that a photographer should only think of pleasing himself and his customer. Once a customer is satisfied with his work, then it only takes word of mouth before work begins to flow in.
Dano admitted that when he began shooting his photos he would be on his friends back to post and repost them and they would. “It’s always good to have positive people on your side,” he noted.
“For a period of time, I was challenged with motivation because of the lack of respect for my work. People try so hard to create their craft then other people don’t value it. Time management was another issue. People don’t understand the photographer’s side of it. Sometimes I do a photoshoot and people expect it the same day, so they’ll be messaging or calling about it. They don’t realize that I have to edit them or that I may have other shoots to do. Most time two days don’t pass without them getting their photos.”
Photography in Guyana, he said, needs many improvements and probably the most important is to begin by including art in the education system from nursery up as not everyone has a business or science head. Because other countries would have taken this up, the art in general, they have galleries where tourists travel just to see, photographers can be paid more for their work whether it be photoshoots for models of a photographer working in the forensics department. “I believe we have a lot of brilliant and creative minds and if we don’t harness these minds they will go to waste,” he said.
Dano feels a photographer’s ability is being stifled in Guyana and voiced how annoyed he is that for someone to go take photos in the Promenade gardens, a photographer needs to pay City Hall $6,000 which provides him a slip to take photos for up to a month. Anywhere else in the world, one could snap photos for free. Another challenge is because some of Guyana’s forts and wonders are situated in the interior and it is costly to get there.
“Photography is something I’m passionate about. It’s a form of relaxation, a form of revival; it takes your mind off stressful things. There’s so much you can see with your eyes, but a camera makes it better. You may just see an ant, but a camera catches the details your eyes won’t have noticed. Photography makes anything more beautiful. In life if you’re not fast enough you miss things like the bus or the taxi. In photography if you’re not fast enough you miss things also, moments. We have one life and if you don’t capture it, it’s gone. There’s this saying ‘Time and tide waits on no man’ and that’s life,” he said.
February 15, will mark the end of Daniel’s teenage years and he plans to live what’s left of it to the fullest then come September, he hopes to pursue a degree in Psychology at the University of Guyana and later complete Master’s studies in the States. Dano has somewhat always been the friend that his other friends went to, to feel better. He has always encouraged them. Listening and counselling came naturally for him as he was always fascinated about the human mind, so Daniel feels that Psychology is his calling. He explained that people commit suicide so often and so easily in Guyana and the people looking on see them as crazy instead of noticing how serious depression. He added that when Guyana can understand that it is okay to not always be okay and situations like these need professional help, then Guyana can start healing from this plague.
When it comes to photography, Daniel hopes that in the future he can offer more services to his clients. For now, he’s a portrait/nature photographer who specializes in photoshoots, weddings, birthday parties and other events.
For a look at Dano’s work, persons can check him out on Instagram: d.sears.photography or on Facebook at New Age Photography.