An unfiltered interview with That Toronto Photographer.
An honest and deep point of view into Daniel Camer’s mind.
SKYN: Alright, so let's get down to it. Who is Daniel Camer? Tell us all about yourself.
DC: I would describe Daniel Camer as a social enthusiast. My camera is just the tool I use to satisfy my social curiosity because as a child I was always shy so I spent a lot of time on the sidelines observing people’s behaviours. As I grew older I realized that in order to function in society, social skills were important, so I had no choice but to start being more outgoing. My camera definitely helped me break the ice with people—particularly with women, who at the time I was rather shy around.
SKYN: You? Shy?! We couldn't believe it if we tried. We're so happy to hear that you were able to find that perfect ice breaker though. We hear you also shoot under another title, "That Toronto Photographer", where did the idea for that alter ego come from?
DC: To be honest, it’s a social experiment, and I’ll report the results once I have enough evidence to draw a conclusion. But for now, what I can say is that the name started off with the fact that I named my studio, called That Toronto Studio, and it seemed like a cool name because my end goal of the studio was to unify the Toronto artist community together and to collectively help the talent in Canada rise up to its true potential!
SKYN: That's wicked! Well you're certainly doing a killer job at it. You mentioned before that you're camera has been a great confidence booster for you in terms of breaking the ice with people. How long have you been a photographer for and what got you into shooting?
DC: In my teens, I started dating a girl named Christine for a half dozen years, although most people might know her as Chrissy Marie or Vickie Lynn. We started off making funny videos on YouTube as a way to pass the time—this was when I first started adopting the motto “create more, consume less”, as this was literally my solution to staying away from the party lifestyle of drinking, drugs, and wasted nights.
SKYN: That's a great motto to live by. Then what happened?
DC: So then in 2009, a guy on Facebook named Ryan found Christine and asked her to shoot. She got super excited and she told him that she had concerns so she’d let him know as soon as she talked it over with me. To this he replied “your boyfriend doesn’t have to know” and she immediately blocked and deleted him and asked me to do the photoshoot instead.
SKYN: Ha, that's wild! Smart lady! What did you do though? You weren't a photographer then.
DC: I borrowed my uncle’s DSLR, (a Canon XTi with a Sigma 17-70mm lens) and did a few photoshoots with my friends here and there and then fell IN LOVE with still photography, when ironically as I was doing videos I told myself I’d never do still photos. Never say never! Because I never looked back.
SKYN: Ha, and we're so happy you didn't, you take some great still photos! What's your favourite part about being a photographer?
DC: Easy. The people. Before every shoot I get pumped up by listening to tunes that get me excited and high energy (like my current fav song: Daddy Yankee – Ven Conmigo) and then I take that energy and spread it to everyone on set. I like being contagious.
SKYN: Ha, that definitely is a great track, and we love the energy - there really is something to be said about being that one red sock in the dryer who turns all the white ones pink. Ok back to business, what sort of photography do you specialize in?
DC: Commercial portraits, I’d say. I’m getting into advertising and I’ve done catalogue and glamour and corporate but I prefer commercial portraits and advertising work the most. I’m also getting back into video—stay tuned for some epic videos coming your way over 2016.
SKYN: Super excited to see them! You've shot with some pretty incredible subjects throughout your career so far, did you have any favourites that you absolutely loved working with?
DC: Nope. A gentlemen should never choose favorites!
SKYN: Ha, such a charmer. Ok. How about instead of picking favorite subjects, we ask about favorite mentors. Did you have any mentors in the industry who really helped guide you into becoming who you are?
DC: Paul Buceta back in the day mentored me a little bit, and Erwin Loewen has taught me quite a few things as well. Their styles and genres of shooting are different yet still the same—they both had the power to capture the most genuine of expressions. A part of my style definitely stems from the desire to capture this same aspect of humanity.
SKYN: And you really manage to capture that. We really do love that about your work. So now that we know your photographer mentors, who are some photographers that you really look up to?
DC: I don’t really look at other photographer’s finished pieces. I DO however take inspiration from other photographer’s journeys. Casey Neistat from New York is definitely one artist whose journey I respect. Watching his videos stirs up inspirational emotions in me, and I’m currently fascinated with examining WHY I feel those emotions when I watch his videos because I’d like to create the same inspiration in my own audience.
SKYN: Absolutely - it's all aboute making that connection and evoking expression. Being in the arts, we have to assume that creativity plays a big part of what you do, how you see things, and the images you take. We'd love to know, where do you get your inspiration from?
DC: My inspiration comes entirely from within. My style is a DIRECT reflection of who I am and how I would ideally see the world. It’s a little animated and childlike at times, and for the most part, minimalist. I don’t appear to include much depth in my images, and that’s because as a person I don’t always want to dive deep—it’s consuming. My thoughts alone could fill a dozen books each day, and my photography is my escape from the curse (or blessing) of my consistently ongoing deep thoughts.
SKYN: Definite blessing my mind. If your mind is anything like your images, then you've got quite the stunning imagination.
SKYN: When it comes to inspiration we know that location is key, where have you been doing most of your working lately? What's your secret photographer spot?
DC: *Jokingly* Don’t tell anyone, but it’s in downtown Toronto East, in studio district. I opened up my own studio (www.thattorontostudio.ca) because I wanted a space in which I could feel inspired to create, and I have actually gotten a lot of compliments on the feel of the space. I guess if you build something with genuine passion, others will take notice.
SKYN: That's Awesome! What are some neat aspects about your space?
DC: Aside from the feeling of relaxation and inspiration I feel when I’m in the studio, I’d say that one of the things that really sets my studio apart is my makeup station. The mirror is just under 6 feet wide by 4 feet tall, with a frame made up of 12 pure white LED light bulbs surrounding the mirror, emitting about 12,000 lumens of light. I’m also happy to announce that this is also the most energy efficient makeup station in Toronto that I know of, since these bulbs consume less than two incandescent light bulbs. All my Toronto makeup artist friends love it!
SKYN: That's so great to hear! What do you hope to achieve by providing this creative space for others in the community?
DC: I want to uplift Toronto’s talent and give them the tools that they need to achieve success in their crafts. I go back and forth between Toronto and Los Angeles, and having lots of creative friends in LA I noticed that the way people approach art there is different than in Toronto and I want to create that same vibe here in Toronto.
SKYN: Having your own studio is a pretty cool mark to leave on the city - Is there anything else that you'd like to be known for? What will your legacy be?
DC: I’d like to be known for social change. Everything I’m focused on right now stems from a desire to create a positive impact on the world.
SKYN: So inspiring. Really, we can't commend you enough for that. It's so important that people in our society and community step up and create the kind of positive, welcoming world that they want to live in. We're so incredibly thrilled to see you doing just that and hope that many more people will start following in your footsteps. Finally, if people wanted to get in touch with you to either book a shoot with you or to book your wicked new studio, where can they go?
DC: *Laughs* They can go talk to my agent! Haha, I’m more than happy to answer any and all questions you might have for me!
To book or see more of my photography: www.ThatTorontoPhotographer.ca
To book or learn more about my studio: www.ThatTorontoStudio.ca
You can also find me on Instagram at @ThatTorontoStudio
SKYN: Thanks so much Daniel - can't wait to see what the future holds for both That Toronto Photographer and That Toronto Studio!
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