Meet the accomplished Leeds photographer who has come back home after travelling the world
and live on Freeview channel 276
The 35-year-old grew up on a council estate and said that, at that time, he believed that people like himself either “end up in prison” or “don’t get caught” – and he knew he wanted “more than that”. But he did not expect photography to be his getaway car.
The first time Dan had access to a camera was at the age of 18 when he took a class at Leeds City College. Much to his surprise, Dan fell in love with the activity. He began taking photography more seriously at the age of 24, when had the money to buy his own camera.
He told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “I found something where I can focus on it and it didn't feel like an effort. It felt fluid, felt natural. It's been an absolute whirlwind of a journey since then, travelling all over the world, making photographs and writing about photography.”
The photographer moved to London for greater opportunities and spent the years from age 25 to 30 in the capital as he honed his skills. It was his street photography that caught the eye of publishers and slowly began to get his work featured in galleries, magazines and books.
He said: “I kind of just got stuck into that niche, if you will, and then the Guardian published one of my travel photographs. From that point I was like, ‘Okay, well, all right, I get the signs’.”
At 30, Dan decided to act on the desire to travel that he had from a young age, and was only growing stronger, and he fell into the world of travel photography. His life since has been unconventional, becoming a photojournalist along the way, but Dan said he would not change a thing.
He added: “I wasn't being paid to travel. That was my choice, but because I was travelling and seeing all these different places and taking photographs, I had quite an interesting perspective which a lot of the photography publications wanted me to write about. It was kind of an unintentional career that just came out of nowhere.”
Dan recalls once being flown out from New York to Los Angeles by Adobe to report on its new products, and how he had felt like he had “made it”, as someone who grew up on a council estate. In March this year, Dan made his way back to Leeds with a new-found appreciation for the city.
He said: "I never had the mindset that I was better than Leeds, but I always had the mindset that I wanted more and I kind of disregarded the city. Then, as I got older and went on a little bit of a spiritual path, I had this overwhelming desire to kind of go back to where it all started.”
But it has not been easy for Dan; the city holds many difficult memories that he is having to overcome. Dan said: “I'm not gonna say I'll be here forever but I've fallen back in love with the city. I've got a sense pride about where I'm from for the first time in my life – and it’s interesting.”
He has spent the past few months photographing the city and its streets and sharing them with the friends he’s made across the world. He said: “All of them are like ‘Wow! Leeds looks like that.’ I'm not trying to big myself up here, they're just saying Leeds looks beautiful.
“I'm not far from Leeds Dock and the playhouse and the city has developed so much in the last 10 years. It's a lot more vibrant. There's a pulse to it that maybe wasn't there when I was growing up, or maybe I just didn't appreciate for whatever reason.
"Coming back to Leeds and actually being here, and not only making it work, but having positive emotions related to the experience, I'm very proud of that. And I'm very proud of the city as well.”