We had the good fortune of connecting with Elizabeth Daniels and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elizabeth, other than deciding to work for yourself, what was the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?
In my 20s, I was finding it hard to break into photography as a paid profession I got to the point where I thought I’d never pick up a camera again. I took a job in photography that had nothing to do with shooting what I wanted. Photos of restaurants for a company that no one knew at the time. How would this help me get anywhere? The decision to take that job altered my life and built my career. It also led to lifelong friendships.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m most proud of a photo I took recently in Tijuana of something related to a human rights story. It hasn’t been published yet. I think the power of photography to cause a perspective shift in people is it’s most important use. The second photo would be a shot I got in Naples a long time ago. The image is how I felt at that moment. I had a similar experience in the USSR in 1990 (when I was 16). I shoot a lot of mid-century architecture, and I try to hear the architects when I’m shooting their buildings. It’s exciting to be alone with a building and watch the light move over it and change it throughout the day. When it’s quiet like that I can hear them better. I took my shoes off when I was shooting the Salk Institute and could feel the stone cooling as the sun set. It felt epic. I also was lucky to the shoot the Ennis House alone for hours. The hard cold marble floors were a constant reminder of the haunted ancient temple feeling in there. Sometimes I get focused and distracted by all the shapes I’m trying to organize and understand and forget where I am. The physical reminder if I can connect to it is always grounding.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would start with the beaches in Malibu. Malibu Kitchen sandwiches picked up one the way. A walk thru UCLA campus to look at all the buildings there. Moving east I would go for lunch on the terrace of the Sunset Tower Hotel. My dog Penelope would be along for the ride for most of this and she’s welcome there. They even have a dog menu. A night drive down Sunset Strip and see some music at the Troubadour then dinner next door at Dan Tanas. Griffith Observatory, VDL Neutra house and a drive thru the Hollywood Hills and up Beachwood to see the Le the Hollywood sign. Drinks on the terrace of the Chateau Marmont at sunset. Dinner at Canters on Fairax or at Sushi Time on Beverly. Downtown I would go by the Easter n Columbia, Ace Hotel (drinks on the rooftop), dinner at a taco truck. In Silverlake Cafe Stella for a drink and Pine and Crane for food. Also shopping on sunset in that area. In downtown MOCA, DWP building and Disney Hall downtown. A movie at one of the old movie palaces if there is one on or a walk to look at the exteriors. Grand Central Market and McConnells ice cream (the cookies and cream is my favorite) and a walk across the street to the Bradbury building. Hollywood blvd walk of fame stroll and dinner at Musso & Frank’s. There’s so much to see and do in LA. We are so lucky here.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I had a teacher when I was 12 until I was a senior in high school-Mr. (Kevin) O’Malley who showed Blow Up to my 7th grade class. He didn’t police us like every other teacher. Photography felt like a path to freedom because of him, and I remember feeling sure this was what I needed to do with my life in the middle of one of his slide show presentations. I ended up writing my college essay on a photo of Annie Leibovitz (I caught her after a book signing at Book Soup before she was obscenely famous) I took that with a 4×5-she helped me with the technical part of it. It was for an assignment but it what I was into at the time. When I was young it was easy to approach people I thought were doing cool work, and I did that all the time.
Other: 2 more instagrams @elizabethdaniels.02