JRP: This is one interview that I have eagerly awaited, and for good reason. Daniel Matsumoto Perez better known as“DANZ” is a photographer that I became aware of on Flickr. Originally from South America he grew up in Australia. Being part Japanese and Spanish only adds to his worldly vision.
DANZ has an eye catching style, and a devotion to his craft which helps to distinguish and promote his unique talent. The very reason why I sought a Spotlight Interview.
Thank you DANZ for sharing some of your time and talking to us about your photography.
DANZ: James thanks for inviting me to be a part of your Spotlight series. It is really wonderful that you take the time to help others improve their passion and talents in photography.
JRP: Where is home for you DANZ?
DANZ: I am based just out side of Tokyo, Japan in a city called Ichikawa.
JRP: Have you had any formal training in photography or graphic arts?
DANZ: I never had any formal training. I did study lighting many years ago when I was doing 3D Animation and Character Building. I use to build and set up rooms with characters that had up to 16 lights. I use that method today in my photography however with much less lighting than in a computer. For the most part I was self taught in both documentary and studio photography. I was fortunate to have a patient muse who helped me develop my style. When I was not shooting I was always in the company of other photographers gaining from their experience.
JRP: What equipment and software do you make use of in your work flow?
DANZ: Right now I use a Panasonic Lumix FZ-50, and FZ-30 for proofing shots. They are fixed lense cameras with Leica glass. I have several other lens that attach to the camera but I basically use the the standard 35-420 lens that comes with the camera.
I have two strobe lights with different modifiers that vary from spot to honey comb. I also make use of a softbox. In addition I have a lot of slave lights that I use sparingly in the shoots.
There is also a wind machine, and smoke machine so I can create atmospheric shots. Anything from a stadium shot of a baseball player to a chef cooking.
When it comes to back drops I have invested in quite a few. I am experimenting with fabrics at the moment.
One of the essential parts of my studio is the models wardrobe. This is an important investment for a shoot. I never want to be in need of something for a shoot. To overcome this I work with fashion designers, and dress makers who donate clothes to my studio. I have also bought quite a few things for shoots over time as well.
As for software, I use Adobe Photoshop CS, Iview Multimedia, and Canon Easy Print. All my retouching is done with my wacom tablet.
JRP: I became aware of your work on Flickr. Do you have any other sites that you participate in as a member or use to display your images?
DANZ: I am member of Photo.net, Model Mayhem, Model Launch, Jurgita, Facebook, and MySpace. I am always looking for a good place to meet other creative talent.
JRP: Your gallery samples show your passion and well developed eye for fashion. What about fashion attracts you as a photographer?
DANZ: Fashion photography for me isn’t just an image of a moment. It is a representation of how a woman feels and expresses herself to the world through what she wears. It is a part of her, and it is a very personal statement. To capture that statement is a rush that just can not be topped for me as a photographer.
JRP: You also mentioned to me that you have an on going interest in documentary photography. Tell us about that side of your photography.
DANZ: Documentary photography is where it really all started for me. Initially when I got my camera it was solely for taking photos of my toys, but I carried it around. Per chance I took a photo of an everyday scene here in Tokyo, and for some reason I took the shot at the pinnacle second. The expression was at its peak, in essence capturing the moment.
After that I took my camera everywhere I went. For some reason I always caught the candid moment. I always put it down to luck but I’m blessed to live in Japan and there is so much life and energy that thrives in this city. I literally shot every single day and uploaded every single day when I was shooting outside.
Most of all I wanted to show the world what Tokyo looked like from the eyes of a person that lives here. Not through the tourist shots that you see so often. I want you to experience what we see on an everyday basis. The lost moments.
JRP: I really like your lighting. Take us through some of your thought processes as you set up your lighting for a photo session.
DANZ: I have had many opportunities to test out my lighting. When I am working with a client I usually sit down with them before a shoot so I can get to know them. Part of capturing a person is getting to know them. As I speak to them I try to work out what lighting is appropriate.
I notoriously move my lights around during a shoot. I prefer to move the lights rather than to move the subject. Everyone I work with is different and each person requires their own special lighting to highlight their best features.
JRP: What is your workflow like in your digital darkroom?
DANZ: My workflow at the moment is pretty simple but organized. Shooting everyday really requires you to know where everything is. Backup is the biggest thing on my mind. So I have two huge external hard disks. Once the shot is downloaded to the computer, it gets cataloged and backed up! I use IView multimedia for cataloging my shots which works both on both Mac and PC.
I usually create large thumbnails of all the shots from the shoot. Once that is done I sweep through, mark the better shots and hide others. Usually I end up with about 200 plus usable shots per shoot. Then the client will choose which ones they need for their portfolio.
The next stage is Photoshop, and I am running Photoshop CS. I will spend about 5-10 minutes per image. Once the retouching has been approved by the client it will be saved to be printed. Retouching on the images is usually done with the client next me. I try to get prints out the same day when possible.
For now the process is simple and works well for me. Getting results without hassle.
JRP:DANZI ask this question of everyone. What is most important to you, technique or vision?
DANZ: I have always felt that vision and style were important. Technique should follow that. There are too many people that spend time working on technique that inhibits their creativity. Bend the rules to suit your style. Don’t be overwhelmed by specs and brand names. Let your vision and creativity dictate everything else.
JRP: What is the best advice you have received so far about photography?
DANZ: To remember that the camera is a tool. Learn to see how a little light can change the mood, also you should always be inspired. There are so many masters to look at online or at exhibits. For me I surround myself with positive creative people. Whether it be models, makeup artists, fashion designers, or other photographers. I could not have created the images I have if it were not for the special talent, and energy from others whom I have been blessed to work with.
Have fun and always shoot. A photo lets a moment last forever.
JRP: Thanks again DANZ for sharing with us and I wish you continued success.
To view more work by DANZ please visit these links: