Inside this issue
I was born in Brooklyn, NY, USA. As a teenager I became enamored with street photography. When I graduated from college I started working in commercial photography until other events pulled me in a different direction. About 20 years ago I got back into photography and now do macros and intimate landscapes.
In 2012 I paused by my local river and everything changed. I’ve moved away from what many expect photographs to be: my images deconstruct the literal and reimagine the subjective, reflecting the curiosity that water has inspired in my practice. Water has been my conduit: it has sharpened my vision, given me permission to experiment and continues to introduce me to new ways of seeing.
Where we start in photography is rarely where we end up. Education and career choices don’t always favour or follow our interests; the important thing is to maintain these until life and time combine to allow us to pursue them more single-mindedly. For this issue we’re returning to Colorado which is home to Dan Baumbach, to find out more about his photographic lives and loves, and how he is finding life after work as a full-time artist.
Would you like to start by telling readers a little about yourself – where you grew up, your early interests and studies, and what that led you to do as a career? How did your father being an artist affect what you did, and didn’t, want to do?
I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, USA. My father was an artist and though he brought in some money from art sales and teaching, my mom was the main breadwinner of the family. I think that affected me a lot in that I initially went into commercial photography and then became a computer programmer and earned a good living for my working life.
Art was extremely important in our household. My parents would go to Manhattan most weekends to visit art galleries. For the summer we often vacationed with other artists in places like Woodstock and Provincetown. I was exposed to a lot of painting and painters, but I never saw myself as becoming a painter. Cameras and taking photographs always appealed to me, beginning when I was about 8 and my mom gave me her Kodak Brownie box camera. When my older brother took a photography course in high school, I too became more involved and started playing with candid photographs of people on the street.
I knew very little about the history and art of photography but I would use my 127 film SLR to shoot candids. One day when I was 15 I met this boy with two Nikon Fs on his shoulders doing the same. I was just playing, but Stephen was very serious. Steven turned out to be 16 years old Stephen Shore. He became a mentor and friend to me for a number of years, encouraging me to get better equipment, and opened up the world of street and art photography for me.
I loved the art of photography, but from my father and his friends, I wanted nothing to do with being an artist so when the opportunity to assist one of the top advertising photographers in NYC came up, I grabbed it.
This early love led initially to a career in commercial photography. What prompted you to move away from that, and then to again pick up a camera after a prolonged period away from photography?