Danny shoots strangers on Orchard Road in Singapore. And what a way to spend his weekend!
Danny Santos II is a famous contemporary street photographer in Singapore. You can read all about him from the most popular photography blogs all over the world. Originally from the Philippines, he creates art out of the “raw-ness” of what’s happening on Orchard Road. Looking at all his photos, one won’t look at a rather mundane street happening the same way again.
I’m very pleased and honored to present you, Mr. Danny Santos II.
Name: Danny Santos II
Ok, a rather obvious question…why street photography?
When I was starting out, I had no idea what I wanted to shoot.. I just knew the I wanted to shoot. So I tried everything from shooting flowers, landscapes, sunsets, cats… but when I discovered street photography in Flickr, I just new immediately that’s what I wanted to be good at. It was just more raw, more real… and more challenging to capture. Imagine trying to get a keeper from an environment that does not cooperate with you.. not the light, not the situation, and certainly not the subjects. It’s not an easy task, sometimes I would wander for hours and not get a good shot, but when you do get that one shot where everything just falls into it’s place perfectly… it all becomes worth it.
Street photography can be intimidating for novice photogs. How do you do it?
Well the one thing that beginners need to know is that the fear never goes away. I’ve been shooting in the streets for 2 years and I still get scared shitless. You don’t try to get over your fear… instead you try to shoot despite the fear. You have to realize that, as long as you are in a public place and you’re not shooting anyone in an uncompromising situation, you are basically not doing anything wrong. And if you are ever confronted by the subject, just smile, apologize and offer to delete the photo.
So how often do you get out there and shoot strangers?
I try to shoot every weekend. I wish I could do it more often
Have you ever done any street photography other than Orchard Road? If so where?
Yes I have, in my home town in Davao City, Philippines, during my Chrismas vacation I think about a years and a half ago. I tried a different style then, using wide angle lens, black & white, at very strong contrast. After that, it was back to Orchard Road. Someday, I would love to be able to shoot somewhere else, like Tokyo, or Bangkok, or New York
Tell us how you got started
I always wanted to try out photography long before I started. I got my chance just about 2 years ago when I moved here to Singapore from the Philippines. I got my first DSLR, a Nikon D80. Then I bought books that could help me understand my gear and digital photography in general. Then I relentless looked for inspiration on the net. Then I started to shoot in the streets. I’ve been shooting in Orchard every weekend since
What’s one post processing tip that you’re willing to share?
Don’t overdo it. The outcome should look natural. Once something sticks out as unnatural, you know you’ve done a bad job. I always had this personal rule to post process under 5 minutes… if I had to go beyond that, I started out with a bad photograph in the first place. And post processing can’t make a bad photograph good… it can only make a good one better.
What equipment do you use? Any favorites?
I use a Nikon D300 with an 85mm f1.4. I also sometimes use a 20mm f2.8 for wide angle shots. I just recently invested on a 24mm f1.4… I’m hoping to get some good use out of it soon My all-time favorite is the 85mm f1.4. I’ve gotten a lot of keepers with it.
What’s on your wish list?
The 24mm f1.4 used to be on my wish list, but not anymore. I just got one a few weeks agoI guess what’s remaining is a full-frame camera.
How do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’d like to be able to establish myself as a professional photographer with a knack for portraiture. I started out late in life, but I’d still like to give it a shot.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received (professionally or personally)?
My Dad used to always say to me “Labor is an honor”. In anything you do, embrace hard work, coz you’re not going anywhere without it.
What do you do in your down time?
I like looking for photography inspiration in books or the net whenever I have free time. Other than that, I’m a complete movie buff so I’m always on the look out for good movies. I also try to run or swim as much as I can after work.
Any tips for anyone who’s just starting out?
The first thing really is to know your gear. Then know what you want to shoot. Once you’ve figured that out, don’t stop shooting. Don’t stop looking for inspiration. And don’t stop trying to get better.
Now in terms of gear, invest on a prime lens. The dirt cheap 50mm f1.8 is a good place to start.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH DANNY!