We’re happy to present Daniel and Lindsay Stark, of Daniel Stark Photography in Portland, OR. They were cool enough to write a really great narrative — enjoy their story.
How did you get started in Photography?
First we want to thank Fundy for having us as the featured photographers. You guys rock!
We met in darkroom photography class in college in 2002. People sometimes ask us if we made out in the darkroom. Yes, yes we did. In all seriousness, Daniel comes from a family of photographers. His dad photographed for the local fire department growing up. His older brother is an architectural design photographer in San Francisco. So, it was a natural talent from birth I guess. Daniel is a photojournalist at heart. He worked as a photographer for the college newspaper for years and also interned at the city’s local paper before starting weddings. Lindsay has more of an art background in photography and really fell in love with film and developing prints in that darkroom photo class. She still has binders and binders of old film negatives and stacks of prints from years ago.
Eventually a friend asked us, “Do you guys ever photograph weddings?” Our response, “No but what the heck…sure!” We photographed her wedding in a city park and took classic photos like the wedding party all lined up on a footbridge.
But it was the excitement and constant rush of emotions and feelings that go on during a wedding day that hooked us. We loved the fact that we were asked to document what is easily the most important day of someone’s life. From there, we just kept the momentum going and started photographing weddings left and right. A few years went by and we moved to Portland to expand the business and work in a larger market. That was 2008 and our business has grown with each year. We always take a moment to realize what an honor it is and how much trust our clients place in us. We never tire of weddings. Each one is different, each couple is unique and we are always striving to be better than our last wedding. We attend workshops, study our favorite photographers and artists and simply never give up on creating images that will be timeless in their composition, lighting and human emotion.
What’s your favorite part of this job?
Daniel: Being creative. Making art. Meeting amazing couples and people. And the food. Lindsay: Witnessing raw emotion. Surprising myself. Father of the bride toasts. And the cake.
What has contributed to your success?
Early on, we looked toward the best photographers, wedding and non-wedding, and studied them. What do they shoot, who did they study, what books did they read. We reached out to them, made connections, sought their advice and knowledge. We continue to work really hard on our craft. We never settle. We want to learn more and more and get better and better. On the business side, we have always put the photos first. That might not be the smartest thing but in the front of our minds is always the photos. We want our couples to have the best. We want them to get their photos back and say, “wow.” And we also truly care about making art. We’re photographers first and at the end of the day, we want to create something that not only our couples will love but will make us fulfilled as artists. We’re getting better at the other aspects of running a business but truly, we want to make really, really, really good photos. That’s what pushes us, keeps us going, creates our drive and feeds our passion.
What is the most important thing for your continued success?
Like Steve Jobs said, “stay hungry, stay foolish.” It’s true. The most important thing for us is to always be learning, push the boundaries, and to find something new and different with each shoot.
We also value our relationships and the people we meet. We love to make new friends and learn from everyone we meet. Oh and we take lots and lots and lots of photographs. All day, every day.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Smile a lot. Be a good listener. Don’t be afraid to go after what you want, in the photos and the business. And get a great accountant (we finally did that).
What is most important in your photography?
We were taught early on that the most important elements to a good photo are lighting, composition and emotion. All three make for a fantastic image. But we have learned that emotion trumps all. We want to capture real emotion in a real moment. Not a staged one. That’s what is going to last. When a bride looks at her photos in 20, 30, 40 years, sure, it’s nice to remember how pretty everything looked. But what we really want is for a bride or groom to remember how they felt. The way they looked at each other during the toasts. How happy her grandma was during her first dance. How mom had a few too many glasses of wine and got crazy on the dance floor. That’s good stuff! But we don’t just want to take photos of it happening. We want to capture those photos in an artistic way. Which brings us back to compositions and lighting. See, we never settle! It’s frustrating because it would be a lot easier just to shoot with no forethought. But that’s not good enough for us. We can thank our photographer mentors for instilling this never-ending quest for perfection in us! (You know who you are, thanks guys!)
Lastly, (Lindsay loves quotes), this is our favorite quote: “Photography is an art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” -Elliot Erwitt We’ve modified it a bit and repeat it to ourselves constantly: “It’s not what you see but how you see it.”
Photography allows us to see the world in a way that most people don’t. It’s a gift and we’re so happy we’ve chosen to follow this passion and see where it takes us.