At 27 years old, Dani Diamond, born in Ohio, but currently based in Connecticut, is more of the introvert type, so photography focused on Weddings & Events was definitely not up his alley, since he’d need to worry about countless details and bigger groups of people interacting with him.
He started working in Fashion / Comercial photography, at the age of 23, because he always wanted to be able to take amazing photos and, as we know, models do know their way in front of a camera (with a bit of orientation from the photographer, of course). So Dani, being a confessed introvert, found his way in.
His photography style is based on natural lighting and it’s surely what makes him stand out in relation to other photographers today. His technique also helped him built strong social media presence which, only on Instagram, is over 114k.
How he started? “I started on my own, figured out how things worked looking at Youtube videos. I studied in Business School and even though I didn’t follow that path, I can definitely apply what I learned to my own business.
As he says: "I wasn't born talented, I was born ambitious.” Awesome, right?
He now has clients not only in the US like New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Texas, but also over seas in England and other countries around the Globe.
For this NYC Hush Hush Tips Interview, we decided to shift a bit the focus so, this time, instead of “Top 7 Secret tips in NY”, Dani will give us his “Top 7 tips for Portrait Photographers that want to shoot in NYC”.
Read and learn, Guys!
1) I love Shooting in NYC mainly because I can work outdoors at anytime of the day and get that soft golden hour light. The tall skyscrapers of Manhattan block the direct harsh sunlight from hitting the streets, so this really softens the light as its bounces off the buildings.
This does come with a price to pay though. Contrary to popular believe, shooting during Sunset hours in NY is not good because of this. The same way harsh sunlight is softened before it reaches the street during daylight hours, it also eliminates the much weaker sunset light.
Without much light at the golden hour it makes taking photographs very difficult. In the end, I'd take 10 hours of soft light over 1 hour of sunset light on any day.
2) Stay away from touristy areas, like Midtown, of course. I prefer mainly places in quieter areas: like the Financial District on a Sunday where you’ll find absolutely no tourists nor business man walking around. You’ll have 10 blocks of beautiful emptiness.
In Brooklyn, Dumbo is favorite area. Even though you can find lots of people walking around, there are several streets that people just don't pass by and that have a very unique cobble street look. You can also find great alleys, gorgeous store fronts, plus you have a breathtaking background with the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge. You can find the Brooklyn Bridge Park with a great view of Manhattan’s skyline…all within a 5 minute walk....versus Manhattan, that doesn't have all that in a small radius.
3) The West Side Highway is great to shoot. The best time is to shoot during the first half of the day, before the sun reaches that area. The first half of the day, the sun is on the FDR side (East). Plus, you also have nice docks with boats in the back, giving it a cool background.
4) If it's a rainy day, go to Soho. You’ll find tons of bars. You can shoot in the empty bars before 4-5pm, since people start showing up only after work for the endless Happy Hours. They all have different looks and personalities. Just feel free to walk in and politely ask to take pictures, not more than 5-6, though. SoHo has only a “10 block radius” and each bar speaks in a different way.
5) The famous Highline! Try shooting early in the morning, before people come around. It does get quite crazy during the day. This area will give you a unique nature type of vibe and lots of green.
6) Hit-up bridges in NY to shoot. Shoot at Sunset because you're out in the open. The Brooklyn Bridge is #1, for sure, but it has the most number people too. The Williamsburg Bridge is great, but keep in mind it is very 'red', so remember this detail when styling the wardrobe. My favorite bridge is the 59th Street Bridge that crosses Roosevelt Island - there are no tourists and only a few people biking to work or from work.
7) The best place to buy your equipment is B&H. They have any piece of gear you’ll probably need, and the best: they are not forcing any things down your throat since they don't get paid commission to sell. The store has robots hanging from the ceiling that take care of your shopping cart, so you don't need to carry anything around while shopping!
Here are a few other tips:
What is a hidden spot in NYC with a stunning view of the City? As I said, Dumbo is great, and I also really like Hoboken, in Hudson County, New Jersey.
What piece of advise would you give someone that just moved to NYC? Do not stay in the City. Get a place in Brooklyn or New Jersey, this way you’ll actually see the City’s beautiful skyline. It’s also cheeper and you’ll experience more things around it. If you stay in the City, you will likely stay o-n-l-y in the City. Plus, the ferries are cheep and pretty fun!
Oh! Dani told us that he uses a Nikon D800 and buys semi new cameras. His tip for buying a used camera is to check the shutter count to see how old it is. If it’s under 20k, it’s ok! Cameras are rated up to 200k.
Click on the images to see further details of the camera and the lens!
His YouTube page has great stuff and tells a bit more about his career! Enjoy!
Take a look as some of his beautiful work:
Photo Credits: All Courtesy of Dani Diamond