What started out as a hobby has become a livelihood for Daníel Starrason. With money saved from a childhood summer job Daniel bought his first camera and began photographing local wildlife. For many years, Daniel continued to explore photography as a pastime. After graduating as an engineer there were limited job opportunities and this led Daniel to consider studying photography. He went on to do this in Denmark, where he graduated from Medieskolerne Media College in Viborg. He now works as a freelance photographer based in Akureyri in the north-east of Iceland.
Akureyri has a population of around 18,000 people. One advantage of working as a photographer in a town of this size means you get to work on a range of types of project. From concerts, weddings and festivals to book and album covers, Daniel’s work includes documentary and portrait photography. Clients are also diverse, such as local cultural institutions like the North Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Hof Cultural Centre to tourism agencies such as Promote Iceland.
Music is a great interest of Daniel’s and also an inspiration. Alongside wider work, Daniel also thinks finding time to spend on his own personal creative projects is important: “I have been documenting the music life of this town for a long time, photographing concerts and documenting musicians. Also recently I’ve been taking portraits of Icelandic musicians”.
Daniel has exhibited his photography locally in Akureyri, but also in the Icelandic capital Reykjavík and internationally in Aarhus, Denmark. Exhibitions often involve collaboration with other local artists. The local creative community is an important resource where new ideas can be developed collaboratively, which also provides motivation to get involved in projects that might not happen alone. Daniel comments: “Relationships with creative people…they can influence me to get to work…and to do new things with others”. Local artistic groups such as ‘Populus Tremula’ have provided an important space to get to know others in the local creative community. Living in a town like Akureyri you can get to know most people that are part of this community. This is also advantageous as Daniel identifies relationships with other creative people as an important source of inspiration: “People inspire me, just talking and communicating with different people”.
One drawback of being based in a small town is the equally small local market. The projects Daniel works on are often short. While he does have return clients, it is difficult to know where future work will emerge from. But Daniel’s reputation has built locally and word of mouth has brought him new customers. He also uses social media to build a wider following and would like to expand his work internationally in the future.