Meet Dan Tom
When I was a kid in my childhood, I drew a town. And that's, I think, where my interests for the arts, my interests were the creative really started. I used to draw Disney characters like Jasmine from "Aladdin," Belle from "Beauty and the Beast," the Simpsons, all these things. And I would draw them and repeat the drawings. I would actually do the same drawing like over and over again, to try to perfect it. And I don't think I realized it at the time. But now that I know that about myself, it's easy to see how that has impacted actually my photography especially editing. Then in college, I majored in art. I knew I didn't want to be an engineer, I knew I didn't want to be a lawyer. Wasn't interested in bio. From there, I got a job as a designer. That was kind of the practical art thing to do back in the day. And I've been a designer ever since. I think there's a lot of overlap with design and photography in the sense of composition, just seeing things objectively and really kind of seei...
ng how it translates to people and how people are taking that in. It's really a good way to communicate. It's a visual way of communicating. And I think that has influenced my photography as well. When I was working in LA, I was working for a small fashion company and my good friend who was also the designer, was just us two. So anyways, he encouraged me to get at my first SLR camera. So that's, I finally saved up enough money to get the camera. It was Nikon D70, the one of the first SLRs to shoot video at the time. And I literally took that camera everywhere with me. It barely left my hands. So I would document and take photos of like the traffic in LA, my commute. Photography was really my outlet and I began to fall in love. I was so interested in learning as much as I could. And so I used my friend as a resource. He kind of introduced me to like editing a little bit. So I just was photographing everything. And shortly after that, I got my first iPhone. I think it was an iPhone four or five and downloaded Instagram. I began to follow and found all these amazing photographers. And I think that's how I really kind of dove into it more deeply. I began to realize that their photos look much different than my photos. And I was like, what are they doing to their photos to make it look a certain way? And so I remember going through all their hashtags that they were labeling their photos with. And I found a couple of apps, Snapseed and VSCO that I still use today. But those are the apps that really kind of opened the floodgates for me. I fell in love with editing. I love the process, I love the post process. I love seeing how you can control the photo after you take it. There's a lot to kind of explore there. And that's become a huge piece of my photography, my process, and how I like to tell stories. I began to grow following on Instagram and then got into the suggested user list that bumped me up to 30,000. And then it's kind of just been a slow growth and build from there. But I began to realize that, hey, maybe I've fallen on something great and I'm doing something right. Because a lot of photographers that I had followed early on, they started following me. And that was almost like confirmation that, okay, maybe there's something in photography for you. I began to travel more. I had never really traveled much prior to Instagram. And that's actually how I get inspired to go to a places actually through a photo. Usually, I remember I moved back to San Francisco seven years ago. My good friend's wife showed me a photo from Turkey and it was in Cappadocia, which is where they have the hot air balloons. And I was blown away. I was like, "Where is this place? I'm gonna go there." I had two weeks between my move. And when I started my job in San Francisco and I booked a ticket to Turkey. I had a friend come with me for that week and then I went to Greece. But that was kind of my first taste of traveling independently. And it wasn't until in my twenties. And so I think I feel super appreciative of the fact that I found photography eventually. And I think falling in love with taking photos and really being inspired through that medium, has really impacted the way that I see the world, how I like to visually create stories, but also how I get inspired. So I'm actually a full-time designer. I've been a designer for over 10 years, but most people think that I'm a full-time photographer which is not the case. I think there's a lot of overlap and there's a lot of influences from design to my photography. And in particular, I think composition. Composition like a lot of the visual things, I think you can kind of translate from design to photography. But I think even more so than that is like the concept and kind of the story behind your design, behind your photography. And I think telling a cohesive story, being able to communicate that story visually is probably the biggest thing that has influenced my photography from my design. So that's my story, let's get into the workshop.