We had the good fortune of connecting with David A. Lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi David, every day, we talk about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Truth be told, “David A. Lee Photography” was not conceived or developed with much forethought. My photography business just sort of happened… Growing up in Rochester, NY as a “Kodak kid” (my dad worked for the company for 33 years), I took photos first with Instamatic cameras, moved on to borrowed film SLRs, eventually bought my first “real” 35mm camera, and then was off and running with a full-fledged photography obsession. After many years working in the airline industry, and in business management (human resources, and training and development). I was bit by the digital photography bug. Within a few years of shooting and sharing photos, I started to be asked to photograph myriad projects—both in Los Angeles and where I primarily live, Palm Springs—including portraits, real estate, and special events. Before I knew it, I had a true business.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My work as a professional photographer has always straddled business and art. Whether I’m shooting food for a restaurant, an elegantly decorated ball room for a 2500-person sit-down dinner gala, or a portrait for a book jacket, I work hard to find the best angle, the best lighting, and the perfect way to present my subject. Of course I have to make sure that MY vision also works with that of my client. Thankfully that’s rarely an issue, as I’m told often that my “eye” is the reason I was hired in the first place. I also love shooting for myself and creating art I feel is unique and beautiful. One of my signature looks is night photography, especially architecture and landscapes, which I shoot under a full moon. Someday I hope to have a gallery show of my moonlit photos, which due to long exposures can often look as bright as day shots, but also contain a full starry sky.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.?
Palm Springs is a beautiful city located in the Coachella Valley of Southern California, surrounded on all sides by beautiful mountains. Because of the location and topography, we get little rain, and in the summer, intense heat. But most of the year our weather is beautiful and we’re charmed by a gorgeous ever-changing light show of sunrises and sunsets. There are so many fun things to do in the area that visitors find little time to be bored… Although a “boring” day by the pool, cocktail in hand, can be exactly what some visitors crave. But for those looking for something a bit more active, there are hiking trails in every direction, plenty of flat biking trails, museums, and opportunities for nearby day trips. Joshua Tree National Park, Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, and outlet shopping centers are just a few places to keep visitors busy. And the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is always a crowd-pleaser, whisking us up 8,500 feet high into the San Jacinto Mountains. There are so many amazing restaurants and night spots that it’s hard to choose where to take guests. A few favorites include Eight4Nine, Tac/Quila, 533 Viet Fusion, and one of my all-time favorites, Johannes. Palm Springs caters to a large LGBTQ+ community, so there is plenty of night life and restaurants that welcome all. Palm Springs is also famous for events that bring visitors from around the world, including Modernism Week, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Fashion Week, and a host of fun and entertaining charity fundraisers.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There is no question that the love and support of my husband, Daniel Vaillancourt, has contributed greatly to my photography business’ success. He has been a constant cheerleader of my interest and talent as a photographer, and always encourages me to be the best I can be. Daniel is a full-time writer, and he and I are also a writing team (TV, film, awards shows, journalism). We often work together where he–or he and I together–write, and I contribute photographs. It’s a collaboration that works very well for us.
Linkedin: David A. Lee Photography
All photos © David A. Lee