Last time you ate a pancake?
Favorite day of the week?
|Favorite website besides your own?
I've been reading boingboing.net for years. It's my go-to source for interesting, odd, and informative ideas.
Give us a brief description of you and your work.
I create abstract, dream-like images out of the simple and overlooked parts of nature, such as leaves, sticks, flowers, and seeds. My photographs reveal the character, complexity, and subtlety buried deep within these forgotten fragments of nature.
What’s your goal as an artist?
Nature is so big and overwhelming, it can be hard to grasp. But when I hold a single leaf in my hand, it's a part of nature that I can actually relate to: it's more tangible, more solid, more real. This is what I try to do with my art: bring the grandeur of the natural world down to a personal, more human scale.
From where do you draw inspiration?
The more simple and humble a piece of nature is, the more it captures my attention. Maybe this is because I am very nearsighted, and I just got used to paying attention to what was right in front of me! For example, the last time I visited Yosemite National Park, everyone around me was staring at the impressive view of Half Dome. But I had my head down, captivated by patterns of the pine needles scattered on our path.
Why do you choose to show your artwork on Plywerk?
My art is of the natural world, so I love that Plywerk is also a work of nature. There's something almost poetic about mounting a paper print of nature against pure wood, with nothing else to obscure or distract from the intention of the art.
Where do you find the natural objects that you photograph? Do you ever purchase items or do you serendipitously stumble upon them?
I find most of my subjects while walking through my neighborhood. While walking the dog or waiting for the kids' school bus, I'll habitually collect the "scraps" of nature I find in my path — the leaves, sticks, flowers, or seeds that have broken and fallen to the ground. My favorite time is right after a storm has blown through, scattering leaves and seeds everywhere. I drive my family nuts when we go for walks, but they have learned to just keep walking, and I'll eventually catch up.
Do you use natural light or studio light when photographing your work?
A little of both. Natural light is nice, but it's hard to make the sun stay where you want it! So most of the time, I use a collection of lights - whatever will do the job. My favorite right now are the daylight-balanced LED lights: they are small, bright, adjustable, and don't burn you when you are composing the scene.
Do certain types of botany photograph better than others? Dried versus fresh? Round versus linear?
My favorite subject to work with is leaves. I never pick a leaf off a tree - I only work with ones that have naturally fallen. They seem so simple and familiar, but reveal such a depth of character and complexity. I've been photographing fallen leaves for over 12 years, and I still see new things in them. I work with most of my subjects after they have dried, mainly because I work so very slowly! I love to watch the changes that happen as the leaf dries over time, revealing a unique "personality" shaped by it's life, the storms it endured, the summer heat it experienced.
Is there any one technique that you could share with others who are interested in photographing abstract and/or macro subjects?
The first thing most students ask me about doing macro photography, is what kind of equipment they must buy. I tell them to just jump in, and don't worry about having the "right equipment". Just explore the possibilities of the tools you already have. Most cameras have a macro mode that will get you started, or you can buy a cheap reversing ring to flip a standard lens around on your SLR camera. Try anything that will let you get close to the details.
What was the last full album you listened to?
Music is constantly playing (loud) in my studio. Today I am listening to the recent solo albums of Lindsey Buckingham (of Fleetwood Mac fame). I love listening to musicians who's years of fame are behind them, and even though no one is paying attention now, they have gone on to create some of the best music of their careers.
If you were a car, what make, model and year would you be?
Ford Mustang, from 1967, the year I was born. It is the pure essence of car-ness.
What kind of jelly do you like on your PB&Js?
Nix the jelly. Why sully the pure wonderfulness of peanut butter with jelly?
Favorite coffee drink?
Iced double espresso.
Favorite deceased artist?
Charles Schulz has been one of my favorite artists since I was a kid. He may be “just a cartoonist”, but more than any fine artist, Schulz’s art has had a direct influence how I see and understand the world. With a few simple strokes of his pen, he had the ability to create emotion, depth, and resonance.
More about Daniel
Daniel grew up with photography and spent many hours in his family's basement darkroom. Later in life, he discovered his talent for graphic design and became the Creative Director for Yahoo!. At some point along the way, he decided to focus on his own artwork and has been doing so for the past decade. He has a successful business creating ketubah's and is on the board of trustees for Morris Arts, whose mission is to make art the center of community life in Morris County, New Jersey.
Win a Daniel Sroka print on Plywerk
Post a comment below and you will automatically be entered in a drawing to win a Daniel Sroka print mounted on 3/4″ bamboo Plywerk!!! We’ll select a winner at random at the end of the month so make sure you come back to the blog in early September to see if you won and to check out the new featured artist! We’ll ship it anywhere in the continental US for free. If you win and need it shipped internationally, you’re on the hook for shipping costs. Sorry to be so mean.