Luke Daniel - Photographer


Primary Print and Photo recently chatted to photographer Luke Daniel about his career to date, his inspirations and influences. Keep an eye out for his upcoming exhibition.

When and what made you take up a career in photography?
In 2008 I got handed a point-and-shoot camera, and just began to photograph things that were very familiar to me – nights out with friends, landscapes, suburban happenings. I guess that’s my first real experience with photography. Eventually I became a bit more focused with my work, completed a diploma course in photography at City Varsity, and apprenticed under a few commercial photographers.  I enjoy photographing the world around me – sometimes I get paid to do it. I’m not sure if that’s the definition of a ‘career in photography’, but that’s my experience with it.

Is photography your main source of income or a supplement? If the latter, what other skill do you possess to keep yourself sustained?
Photography and owning a photographic studio (South Line Studio) in Diep River serve as my main source of income. But, I’m always doing odd jobs, too. Anything to pay the bills, really. For me, photography has never been about making stacks of money – especially not in documentary work. If I can scrape a living together, just through documentary/reportage photography – I’m happy with that.

What gear do you shoot with?
I keep it pretty simple. I shoot on a Canon 5D MK II – with a few fast lenses, for low light shooting. I’ve always got a Speedlite with me, too.

Are you a digital or a film man? And why?
I’m a digital man, with film ethic. I shot on film, and developed in the darkroom for years. Film is more manual – every frame deserves more thought, more contemplation. Also, it’s expensive to shoot on film – so, you’ve gotta make every shot count, ya know. Digital has just made photography more accessible to the world – and has made everything more instant, more automatic.

Who inspires you?
I’m inspired most by non-photographic work. Music and writing inspires me. Also, people inspire me – ordinary, extraordinary people. I guess that’s why I’m attracted to documentary work. I’m far more interested in psychology and humanism, than I am in photography. Photographically, I’m inspired by renowned documentary photographers - Robert Frank, Mary Ellen Mark, Leonard Freed, Robert Doisneau.

What motivates you to shoot in the style you do?
The fact that we live in a bizarre and beautiful world – which can be cruel and caring all at the same time. I’m just privileged enough to have a tool to capture that dynamic (or at least try).

What's the bazaarest/most exciting shoot you have had?
Documentary work always takes you into some bizarre situations – but that’s the point. I did a commercial job for Red Bull earlier this year, where I was flown out to cover an ongoing event, all around the country. Fly out of Cape Town at 5am, shoot all day and rush back to the airport to be back home 8 hours later. A month of that – bizarre and exciting, all at the same time.

What do you look for in locations?
It depends – but usually I’m attracted to locations which are rich in texture and tone. I like gritty, dirty environments. But, I am a sucker for a breath-taking landscape.

What do you hope to achieve with your photography going forward?
I just want to photograph as much as I possibly can. I want to travel more, exhibit more and attempt to be a photographic story teller, more than just a professional photographer. Making a living from that makes me very lucky and very grateful.

Any planned exhibitions? If so, what gallery would you select if you had the choice, and what substrate would you print on?
I do have a section of my work lined up as part of an exhibition later this year. The work is from my ‘LANGA’ project – details will be revealed soon! I’d love to have my work exhibited in the Stevenson gallery – huge prints on Hahnemühle Alpha Cellulose paper would be a dream come true.

Do you have 10 fingers and 10 toes?
For now, yes!

Do you hire models or are they mostly volunteers?
99% of the time I work with volunteers or amateur models.

Do you ever mix peanut butter with marmite on toast? If not, why not?
I’ve never done that – but, now that I think about it… 

How can one make contact with you?


Facebook (studio):

Twitter (studio):


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