U.S. Naval Bomb Squad Technician Turns to Photography for Stress Relief

U.S. Naval Officer Daniel Dopler with his camera. Photo courtesy Daniel Dopler.
U.S. Naval Petty Officer Daniel Dopler with his camera. Photo courtesy Daniel Dopler.

The creativeLIVE community is comprised of ambitious, curious creatives around the world — and we recently chatted with military professional Daniel Dopler about how he fits CreativeLive into his high-octane life. Daniel has been stationed everywhere from Thailand, to Japan, to Cambodia, and has an extremely high-stress job as a naval bomb squad member. When Daniel’s not jumping out of planes, he’s watching CreativeLive courses to hone his photography skills — and has ambitious plans to starting his own photography business when his contract is up.

U.S. Naval Officer Daniel Dopler in action — and uniform! Photo courtesy Daniel Dopler.
U.S. Naval Officer Daniel Dopler in action — and uniform! Photo courtesy Daniel Dopler.

Education as Stress Relief

“I don’t have cable, so I watch CreativeLive. I fell in love with it,” 32-year-old Daniel told us in a phone interview. “It’s a stress relief, or escape. I am essentially a bomb squad member in the Navy. I have a lot of stress related with my job — jumping out of airplanes, diving, everything else. It’s an escape from doing something that is high‑risk to doing something that is still important but not maybe as risky.”

Daniel said he was initially drawn to CreativeLive because the platform allows him to set his own pace. “It just gave me a lot of clear options,” he said, adding that his photography has grown “leaps and bounds” since he started watching CreativeLive. Over the past three years as a CreativeLive student, Daniel has delved deep into the catalog of photography and business courses, lapping up as much creative and technical education as he can on his off days.

One Skill at a Time

In addition to helping him de-stress and hone his photography skills, Daniel uses CreativeLive courses to augment his traditional business education. “I am also working on a double master’s in Intelligence Management and an MBA,” Daniel explained. “[CreativeLive] courses about business take the abstract academic ideas that I have learned about and turns them into a practical and specific ways to take action.”

Daniel started watching CreativeLive courses around the same time he developed a serious interest in photography — and he now takes photos on an almost daily basis. “I do landscape, and I also do portraits between families,” Daniel explained. “I have done some glamour stuff. Just basically, small stuff on the side to get a portfolio started and going.”

He has limited access to the internet, but often buys on-demand access to the courses so he’s able to tune-in whenever he has down time. “I use Creativelive to target what I am focusing on while trying to learn about [a certain] field,” Daniel said, explaining how he picks what courses to watch. “For basic techniques, I use the courses designed to teach lighting, or posing, or a type of photography, I will watch the experts in those areas.”

The fact that all courses are broadcast (and recorded) live in-studio allows for an added element of trial-and-error, an aspect Daniel finds endlessly useful. “I learned long ago that if I can learn from someone else’s mistakes then I am 50 percent ahead of everyone else.”

Photo courtesy Daniel Dopler.
Photo courtesy Daniel Dopler.

Making Time for Creativity

Creativity has always been an important part of Daniel’s life — when he has been able to make room for it. “I grew up playing soccer — more or less that was my physical and creative outlet,” Daniel recounted, adding that he dabbled in photography in high school, but dropped it upon entering college. “When I went to college, [photography] got away from me, with everything else that was going on,” Daniel said.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most important, Daniel ranks creativity at 7 or 8. While he believes himself to be a creative person, but not incredibly so. “I trained myself out of it,” Daniel said, pointing to “normal education” and his job as detractors from creativity. “Now that I have more time, I have been able to get back to it.”

To learn more about David, check out his recently-launched photography site!

Whitney Ricketts FOLLOW >

Whitney Ricketts is CreativeLive's Senior Communications Manager. Email her at whitney [dot] ricketts [at] creativelive [dot] com.