Becoming a Full-Time Photographer Before Age 25



hi how are you thank ya ready for the game huh they're not in the game but I wouldn't wear my clothes always there in spirit that's it all right you have a good one definitely well thank you morning guys so for those of you who don't know who I am my name is Daniel d'arco and I am a full-time commercial photographer the question though is how did I get the at this point in my life in my early 20s before age 25 well it turns out there's this entire timeline this entire storyline that i haven't really shared with anyone at least online about what it took to get to where I am now realistically and I want to throw that out there today and to talk about that let's go on a quick Drive the story doesn't start here I just really love 7-eleven so after being hospitalized and learning how to walk again I'm back in college okay great now what let's go way back to the very beginning back in college photography was something that I was really interested in I wasn't really sure how to even become a free lunch in the first place so in my spare time at this point I was working three day jobs and I was also in a relationship dating somebody one day I got into a really big car accident which cost me the car that I was driving and I figured to myself you know what if I'm going to end up fixing this car or having a car to drive in the first place I've got to get a better paying job one week later our solved job listing wallows on campus for a photography assistant and I landed the job I got the gig as a personal assistant to a photographer named evangelist arrow who's actually a really good friend of mine now she taught me a lot of the fundamentals and the essentials of running a business in the first place how to even make that jump what it takes to sustain income and overall what it was like to be a freelancer then I started taking my own photography kind of seriously I would wake up two hours early and every single day I would go to the local Barnes & Noble down the street from her office I would sit there for as long as I could work on my website or I would be doing research I ended up dropping out of school I ended that relationship and all of my focus was just on me trying to better myself as a creative person about one year later I was 21 years old and I get a call from a creative staffing agency the agent says to me hey we saw your work online as a photographer and retouching would you want to interview to be on a creative team within a corporate office it paid better it was something like 20 bucks an hour maybe full-time you know 40 hours a week and I had never worked corporate before so it was a big change for me if I got it turns out I got it next thing you know I'm called I was what you call a production artist and the production artist is somewhere between a retoucher and post production as well as a graphic designer and they do other stuff like asset management I was the youngest kid instead of this entire office I want to say there was between 50 and 100 people inside of the office and I was some kid who dropped at college I I went to the interview I had skills and something that I really enjoyed personal experience they never asked me what my degree was what college I went to even in advanced about that I went to this whole job just seeking more knowledge and wisdom about what it's like to run a business especially in e-commerce and at some point even the creative director here had me shooting in studio with the other photographers two years of waking up super early maybe 6 a.m. every single morning getting ready commuting anywhere between an hour and an hour and a half away because there was a 40-mile drive working you know eight eight and a half hours then going back home and then trying to freelance that was my hustle I was shooting for different companies different clients and sitting down some roots in the Bay Area as somebody who is doing this professionally and it was working you know but it was definitely hard so I figured that I would take a step away from this job after two years and I would go into freelancing but before I did that there was one more thing that happened between that back in my hometown Vallejo California I eventually moved into a large 1400 square foot studio it was beautiful what in floors 3 7 foot tall southern facing windows for natural light I had two skylights a kitchen and bar area a changing room a really big parking lot and a gigantic art community surrounding it it allowed me to have a large creative working space on the cheap and really statement lay it wasn't exactly expensive I was only paying about fourteen hundred fifty dollars for 1400 square feet which means about just over a dollar per square foot so even though I was still working corporate full-time and I was doing freelance work there was one thing I knew for sure and it was the fact that if I really really wanted to do I would always have a creative space to project and it was because of those infinite amounts of projects that I could do instead of that studio that I started expanding my horizons outside of just the Bay Area then I started venturing more into Los Angeles so for about eight months I was visiting every single month up until the point where I started realizing you know what I want to break my studio lease and actually make a jump to LA you know I thought I was special that's when the craziness really started back in LA the old elevator and deaf we go so this all brings him back to my first year in LA full time freelancer now is 2015 I left corporate and I'm in a new city things just kind of seem to be falling like right into place I had done a monthly gig with the magazine which had me come out in San Francisco forgiven of every single button just enough to pay my thousand dollar rent and live life by the bare minimum the first three months were pretty good but actually would have been lines out a bit rocky three months later I ended up unfortunately losing that contract with the magazine client because of the distance I ended up starting to fail with freelancing fail with freelancing I couldn't really paid bills anymore they were paying even before they cut the contract they were paying me about a month or two late sometimes and it was I was having trouble finding new work because I was the new guy in town didn't really have committee connections me being really far away from friends family never Lee having too many people to talk to at all and also being very financially unstable I was kind of an emotional wreck became very cynical negative lost my sense of humor stops shooting test work and because of all these things that happened me emotionally I ruined a lot of friendship to do like a lot of new friendships that I made in LA because I was just not very happy things got a really dark for me in 2015 I think was a bad time to know me because I changed drastically in a negative way I sort of lost myself as a creative person as you know photographer um I wasn't sure what to do with business and just all in all personal life I wasn't being me I made a lot of mistakes and I kind of was at a standstill because I had a pork row decision do I stay in LA try to stay in LA do I quit photography completely or do I move back to the Bay Area I basically left behind all of the prospects all of the clients that I had in the Bay Area in Northern California I kind of lost all of them because of this passionate / romantic decision of moving to LA and I thought it was a huge mistake one year later so nearing the end of 2015 that was my Park Road do I move back I was leaning forward yet but it didn't and 2016 got much better it just came with a cost let's talk about that you I was not about to let all of my efforts go to waste so I decided I give myself one more month one more try it and if it didn't work out I moved back home from LA get a normal day job about two weeks for my personal deadline ended I get a call from another agency and they tell me that they have a fashion company client who needs a photographer temporarily maybe about a week max so I immediately said yes grabs all of my gear went to the meeting the next day with the creative director and I did a test shoot with them that one week's gig turned into two weeks which turned into three weeks that a month and slowly I started regaining confidence that I could sustain and live in stead of Los Angeles on my own and I shop it in weekly after about three months or so they asked me if I wanted to come in house full-time and I accept it because my plan was to stay for about six months half a year rebuild and regain my client base outside of the studio and then charge back into freelancing just like I did the first time around the only difference is this time around – I would have more access and opportunity to everyone in the industry and overall I can make more friendships and long-term relationships I did at some point return back to my happy positive more creative version of myself and to complete that loop it was a necessity for me to run my own business again in July 2016 I put my two weeks notice in and by that time I had a completely different approach to both life and business I was more humble I was more strategic smarter and that was a good thing to do because now life is pretty amazing I'm shooting frequently commercial work for quite a few fashion companies including the one that I would full time with I'm back to doing test work I have a new apartment so I moved I have a little workshop for doing creative building projects and all my other side stuff and I've actually never been this happy in my life before and you know I think at this point you're probably wondering you know well what are the secrets to becoming your own boss but I've actually been laying them out this entire video I ended up dropping out of school all of my focus was just on me trying to better myself as a creative person I was the youngest kid inside of this entire office working eight and a half hours then going back home and then trying to freelance you know I thought it was special that's when the craziness really started all of the clients in Northern California I kind of lost all of them because of this passionate / romantic decision is moving to LA the only difference is this time around – I would have more access and opportunity to everyone in the industry and overall I can make more friendships and long-term relationships I've learned that life doesn't really start until you give yourself a whole something worth stealing the highs and lows for and whether or not you live a flat line is entirely up to you

38 Replies to “Becoming a Full-Time Photographer Before Age 25”

  1. Some people will never understand the journey or sacrifice that you have to go through to achieve what you want in life. Awesome video man ✊🏽 I can relate to The Ups & The Downs

  2. Damn dude, that gave me chills and shit ! I am turning 23 in 2 weeks. French filmmaker based in Lisbon, working full time for a company. Nothing related to video but I do my stuff on the side. I am about to make a moove and try to find a company I can work for as a creative. Thanks a lot for sharing man !

  3. I'm only here bc Mango Street name dropped you 😉 Seriously, the transparency of your journey in this video made their recommendation worth it. I needed this. Thank you, Daniel.

  4. I needed to watch this and hear truth. THANK YOU! And many, many blessings and abundance to you 😊🙌🏽💫🙏🏽

  5. Learn how to sell your photography here and Make a lot of money http://www.cameracareer.com/guide/?hop=vanliving

  6. I was listening to Sara Dietschy’s podcast “That Creative Life” and found your channel. This video was amazing. It was one that I needed to see at this stage of my life. So thanks for putting it out in the world. Best of luck to you. I will for sure keep watching. Also thanks for the inspiration!

  7. After watching this video, & you for the first time. I just had to subscribe. Please k ow that you are truly an inspiration to allot of us. You proved us that life isn't always a bed of roses but that we need to pick ourselves up and NOT quit when we fall. 😊 Thank you.

  8. I'm a senior graduating from high school this year and this is the video I have been searching for. Jumpstarting me to choose a path that might not please my parents but it's worth it to me, thank you Daniel. I can do this!

  9. I appreciate your vulnerability and the way you outline your journey. I just turned 20 and am attempting to do exactly as you did. In New York, every company wants someone with a BFA or BA in Photography. It's quite difficult being young and passionate while trying to make a living. This really inspired me!

  10. This just encourage me to a next level o hate photo graphic and arts some I stubble across your video and now I am looking to buy a camera.

  11. Yo you lived in concord? That's where I live right now! and I believe the college you're at Is Dvc? That's super cool!

  12. This video is two years old and i just came across it and wow I'm speechless. i lowkey needed to hear some of the advice you've given ♡ Thanks! also, new subbie here 😊

  13. Wow Daniel! It is not y random chance that I have found this video and your channel. Extremely inspiring and perfectly timed as to where i am right now. THANK YOU

  14. Amazing, truly. Great story here. Inspiring indeed. It's what I needed to hear and see. Definitely need to keep shooting. Peace and love.

  15. Amazing I’m from Vallejo trying to make my dream into a full time job as a videographer you inspired me to keep going

  16. Thanks for making this video. It was inspiring as person that is going into photography at a later point in life.

  17. The only thing this guy became was a full-time bullshitter. Full-time commercial photographer, but begging for money on Patreon. And all the idiots fell for it.

  18. Extremely late to seeing this video, but thank you for it. Very inspirational and helped me a lot.

  19. It's cool that you have historical footages of your life experiences. How do you store your videos and photos?

  20. Wow super inspiring and motivating.. We are all sitting and waiting for better days…And finding excuses.. Time to change my game and step up..Thank you so much for helping me. So young yet so smart..

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