ART/LIFESTYLE, PEOPLE

INTRODUCING: DAN ROBERTS

[Photo via Dan’s Instagram – @Threadslike]

I met Dan, a fellow young New Zealander living in Melbourne, just a couple of months ago at a mutual friend’s party. Since then I’ve been a keen follower of his work. There is an impressive element of calm in the beautiful images he captures, depicting some of the most stylish people in the world. His shots – largely candid – give the viewer clues about a given scene but also leave room for questioning or interpretation which I believe is an important part of what makes a good photographer. Dan has this astounding gift for capturing a subject’s serenity and grace, all while conveying the real movement in a moment.

In the last 5 years, we have witnessed the sudden and drastic rise in popularity of Street Style Photography, partnered with an ever-increasing blogging culture, meaning fashion is now more accessible than ever – Overall this is a huge plus, but it also comes with some negatives. Suddenly style itself is harder to characterise or even recognise because we are flooded with pictures of the same things day in, day out. Street Style imagery is a great tool in keeping things fresh and genuine because it involves real people, in real situations. It’s fashion in the field; Fashion on the ground. Street Style can be a constant and ever-renewing source of inspiration, but this is all dependent on a gifted photographer with their own eye for style and innovation.

Dan has proven his personal knack for style time and time again, via his work. He isn’t afraid to take chances to find the truly amazing shots. Currently in New York, starting off the fashion week circuit, he graciously took some time out of a very busy schedule to give us some insight into his world:

Me: Who are you, where are you, what do you do, & why do you do it?

Dan: I’m Dan, an averagely tall ginger haired boy currently on a plane on the way to NYC. I’m a photographer, and I do it because I now couldn’t think of doing anything else.

Tell me about when you first discovered a passion for photography? – What got you into it to begin with?

I guess it was during the time when a lot of us fall for it; when I was at high school. I was a really physical, hands on kind of guy growing up with a keen interest in the arts. There was something that felt right when I had a camera in my hands. My sister gave me one of our Granddad’s cameras, a Pentax Spotmatic which was the first camera I shot with (It’s actually still in our family, my brother now shoots with it). It wasn’t until a few years later that I really started to take photography more seriously though.

How has your journey into photography been & what does the timeline look like?

You know what, the first few years were pretty erratic. I would be really into photography, then I would be distracted by some other hobby, but in the end I’d always find myself back with a camera in my hand. I don’t think it was until I started diving into the fashion world that I really thought I might be able to make a living out of it. I used to work for a designer back in Auckland, and from there I was able to start shooting a few runways and behind the scenes type work. When I moved to Melbourne 2 years ago, I decided that being a photographer was how I wanted to spend my days.

Why fashion photography? & more specifically, what is it about street photography that drew you in?

I’ve always been obsessed with aesthetics through all facets of my life, which naturally drew me to fashion from a pretty young age. Street style was the new big thing, undoubtedly being a driving force within the industry for a few years now. I was attracted to the excitement surrounding street style. Although the work load and hours during FW month are huge, I still really love it.

Elle Magazine is such a huge publication! – What has the experience of working with been like & how did that come about?

I follow the fashion week month from New York to London, then Milan and finally onto Paris. Essentially I document the street-style scene outside of all the shows and then edit and send images off to ELLE.com each night. ELLE.com are a great client, they’re super supportive and I really love working with them. I’m lucky in that they liked my style from the beginning so I haven’t had to change much about how I shoot to cater for them. You know, working with ELLE.com has really helped push my work to a level where I want people to see my edit each day and then come back to check out ELLE’s streetstyle slideshow day after day. I was lucky enough to meet one of the Fashion Editors outside of a show in NYC. We got talking and then from there we kept in email contact before the next season started. I’d have to say that one thing I’ve learnt through this process is how important it is to actually meet someone face-to-face.

Let’s talk about personal style – How would you describe yours? 

A nomadic skater, cruising past an A.P.C. store.

What do you see as the big Spring/Summer 2014 trends for both men & women?

For men’s it was clearly all about loud prints. That whole Leonardo look, from Romeo and Juliet, spot on. For women, I just hope there are a lot of girls dressing in menswear. I’ve always been a fan of it, and it was definitely a trend during the menswear shows in June.

Did you ever consider other career avenues outside of photography/fashion? If so, what were they?

When I was little I had this real passion inside me to be a train driver… I still like the idea of that kind of simple life, and I admire people who get satisfaction out of that. I just know now that it’s not me, or at least not at the moment.

Where has your skill & passion taken you, geographically? What would you name as the most stylish city in the world?

Sydney, New York, London, Milan, Paris and Florence to date. I think for me it would be a toss up between Tokyo and Paris for the most stylish cities. Tokyo is a place where you can be totally expressive with your look and not feel out of place. It’s very innovative and I feel like it’s always one step ahead of everyone else. I also really like that Parisian chic look. It’s not over the top or trying to show off in any way. I like that really refined classic style with a hint of edge about it.

What is your favourite city to shoot in & why?

Paris – and again it’s because of the refined chic look they’ve got going on. The city itself is really beautiful and it’s hard to beat that backdrop. Plus there’s something about the light there… it’s all about the light!

Tell me about what you’ve been listening to lately? What music gets to pumped to shoot?

I’ve been listening to a lot of Earl Sweatshirt actually. I don’t know what planet I was on when Doris was released, but I’m just discovering how good that album is! Also, a lot of Volcano Choir, which a good friend introduced me to. I usually make a fairly hard hitting, “dance in public because you just don’t care” kind of playlist for shooting. A lot of hip-hop. Essentially by the end of the trip I want stuff that will keep me awake on the way to the first show of the day.

What else outside of the fashion world inspires your work? Any films/music/art that you draw inspiration from?

It changes all the time. At the moment though, I’ve been watching a lot of 90’s gangster/cop action films. I’m developing ideas around a photographic series that pulls from that genre of film.

Who are some of your favourite photographers? Who do you admire or who inspires you outside of photography?

Helmut Newton and Steven Klein for their drama and composition. I miss that drama in a lot of ‘modern’ photography, I feel like there is so much of the same slightly underwhelming stuff out there. I’m a big fan of Alessandro Simonetti and his documentation of sub genres. I admire Hedi Slimmane as both a designer and a photographer.

Outside of the photography world it would have to be the designers behind the clothes that I shoot. A lot of these designers are incredibly intelligent and interesting people full of great talent.

Who are some of your style crushes? – Both Men & Women?

Isaac Larose and Stephen Mann, these guys are at the forefront! Model Hanne Gaby Odiele, she’s so fun to shoot and has such a cool look. Sarah Harris, Larissa Hofmann, there’s a few!

Do you have a favourite(s) photo you’ve ever taken?

It’s hard to choose just one photo, especially from my fashion work. But my favourite photo is probably from a collection I made for my family one Christmas. It was a series of memories from around my grandparent’s house. There’s this one photo of my Nana that I think really captured her beautifully. She’s now passed, so it’s really nice to have that photo which has now turned into a memory whenever I think about her.

Have you ever been star struck at someone you’ve got to meet or shoot?

To be honest, not really. I think I’m a little too laid back to get star struck. But I remember the first season there were situations when I’d just find myself laughing because say Anna Wintour had just walked passed, followed by Bill Cunningham and then not far off would be Rihanna or Kanye – I remember thinking it was a fairly ridiculous situation I’d gotten myself into.

Where do you hope to see yourself in the next 5 years? What is the main goal with all of this?

The goal is to survive, right? No but seriously, I’ve got a lot that I want to accomplish in the next 5 years. I think the nice thing about this game is that you really never know, do you? If you asked me 5 years ago where I’d be right now, it wouldn’t have been this.

What is the one piece of advice you would give other young photographers (or people aspiring to get into fashion in some way) that you wish someone had told you?

Don’t always listen to the advice that people give you.

What is the best mistake you’ve ever made?

Stealing my brothers denim FCUK jacket when I was about 13 and wearing it to school. Turned out I was the double denim king and got laughed at by everyone. But as far as I can tell, that’s what started all this.

Any last words for the lovers/haters of your work?

Thank you to the lovers, for supporting me and following my work as it’s progressed. I appreciate all of you. Haters, well you know, everyone’s got to hate something, right?

Check out Threadslike.com now!
Dan is also on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter
 

[All photos by Dan Roberts via Threadslike.com]
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