Location: New York, NY
With vivid work that spans the gamut from editorial assignments to fine-art landscapes, Dan Saelinger has his camera on the pulse of today’s in-demand looks. His dramatic studio still lifes show a balanced combination of concept, technique and postprocessing savvy. The results are images that keep his phone ringing.
I received a BFA in Photography from Penn State University in 2001 and an MFA in Photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2004.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned either from a teacher or mentor?
Trust your vision. Studying for an MFA really enforced the notion that you need to find your vision and follow through on it. It’s very tempting to see a photographer garner a ton of attention and success for a certain style and want to copy it. I’ve learned that you need to articulate from your own visual voice, and while that may not always be the current trend, you’ll find more success and happiness photographing how you see rather than forcing a style upon your work.
What was your first job?
I started pretty early on. My very first job was as an intern for my hometown newspaper The Daily Item when I was 16. Back then, I assumed I’d be a photojournalist and didn’t really comprehend the possibility of being a commercial shooter in New York.
What advice would you give to a photographer who is still in school?
Be religious about knowing the work of the photographers out there doing what you want to do. When I was in school, I looked up to photographers like Fredrik Broden, Mark Hooper, and Giblin and James, never realizing that one day we’d be up for the same jobs. Your heroes today are your competition tomorrow. The only way you’ll succeed is if you can bring something to the table that can compete with the caliber of the top talent out there.
What inspires you about photography?
The fact that every photographer out there has a unique vision. You can place an apple in front of 10 different photographers and end up with a different interpretation of that apple from each one. We all see in our individual ways, and I love that photography celebrates that, offering a precise moment of someone’s individual vision.
What kind of camera equipment do you use?
I use a range, depending on the situation. On location, I’ll pack a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with a range of lenses. In studio, when I’m locked to a stand, I tend to shoot with the Hasselblad 501 series with a Phase One digital back. Broncolor is my go-to for lighting as I’m a control freak, and those Scoro packs are absolutely killer for light control. For video, we use the Canon EOS 5D Mark II rigged with a Redrock Micro grip. Due to the variety of what we shoot, I’m always in flux on gear.
What’s your favorite piece of Canon gear?
Since we’ve made the leap into video, I’d definitely say the EOS 5D Mark II. I was blown away when I saw what this camera was capable of. It has been a game-changer for this industry and myself, and is a really powerful tool for photographers at the moment.
To see more of Dan Saelinger’s work, go to www.dansaelinger.com.