Meet Dominic Dähncke, a visual master with a spontaneous eye for capturing unique compositions and storytelling moments. Learn about how magic can be made without even knowing how or why until it has manifested.
In your Stocksy biography, you mention that you combine chance and creativity in one click. Could you elaborate on what this means and how you put this into practice?
Not long ago, in all the talks and courses of photographers, there was always a reference to a piece of advice: “always carry your camera with you, because you never know when and where you will find a good photo”. I admit that I have always followed that advice, carrying my camera on my shoulder, even if I went to the corner to buy bread, but for a few years now, I no longer do it.
Why? Well, because smartphones have advanced so much at the photographic level that all I have done is change the chip in my mind — break my prejudices about the mobile — and tell me every day that with my phone I can capture all those moments and situations that I find myself in as I walk down the street. It is there where those opportunities appear that I comment on in my bio.
Do most of your works come from random moments or do you also set out on specific walks to try and capture new work?
Before, when I did landscape and nature photography, I would go out at a premeditated time and place in advance; On the other hand, in my current photography (which I still don’t know very well how to define it, street, perhaps?) I have never planned when taking the photos. I find everything. It can be while doing my daily exercise, while going to the supermarket, while walking my dog, or while eating with a friend. I am very much a follower of spontaneity.
Do you have favorite places, times of day, weather conditions, or even cities that you like to go to capture your work?
I admit that I love the environment and context of cities. I live between two islands in the Canary Islands: La Palma and Tenerife. In the first there are no large cities; in the second there are. So whenever I can, I go to San Cristóbal de La Laguna or Santa Cruz de Tenerife to walk with my camera and my mobile. Another city that has me in love for this purpose is Madrid. I try to go two or three times a year. As for the time of day, as long as there is sun so there are shadows, I find charm in any moment: in the early and late hours of the day its long shadows, and in the central hours harder shadows. If I had a remote to control the angle and intensity of the sun, I would be very happy. I’m going to search AliExpress to see if they sell any.
Has the beauty of patterns and objects in our daily life always inspired you?
In order to answer this question correctly, my subconscious should do so. But I will do what I can. I was never aware that, from my beginnings in photography, I was always attracted to the patterns and textures that surrounded me. I really realized this a few years ago when, reviewing my first photos, I discovered that even then I was attracted to them and was photographing them. Now, ten years after getting started more seriously with photography, I have almost left the landscape and nature photography that I started with and have stuck with the style of photography that really inspires me. I think we are all sensitive to beauty, what happens is that “beauty” is a word that contains a very broad and personal meaning for each of us. In my case, this beauty is transmitted to me by the objects and visual patterns that surround me.
What does a moment or a scene need to do to make you stop, get out your camera, and capture a photo?
It is my intuition that stops my feet. Suddenly I find myself standing in front of some reason and/or situation, without really knowing why. I take the photo, I get home and I still may not know why I took it. Sometimes it takes days for me to make sense of it. I guess that’s how long it takes my subconscious and my conscious part to agree. Many people ask me if my photographs and the texts that accompany them (I am talking about the ones I post on my Instagram — @dodafoto) are premeditated. I always answer no. I find the situation, I take the photo, and, afterward, I create the text for it.
For this reason, I cannot say what prompts me to stop in front of a moment or a situation. It is pure intuition. I consider myself creative afterward.
“I quickly got the message: don’t follow fads; be yourself.”
Do you have any plans or goals for the coming months?
In relation to the Stocksy community, in the coming months I would like my style to mutate little by little towards the point that I also want to reach in my personal facet as a photographer: to not abandon my conceptual style (to call it in some way) while placing people in my photographs. In the photographic world I am very shy (not so in my real life) and perhaps that is why it has been difficult for me until now to relate to people when it comes to introducing them into my photographs. But it’s something that I feel I want to do. And this is where the magic of the Stocksy community happens, since it is like a catapult that makes it possible for you to advance in your personal goals and grow together with it.
Do you have any hidden talents besides creating your wonderful work?
Well, I don’t know for sure, but there is something that tells me that I may have a certain talent for the world of writing. During confinement due to the pandemic, I started taking courses, workshops and reading about the script, and I was fascinated. In my family we have always been very good liars (“good” lies, the kind that we say so as not to say no, as an excuse) and I always fought against that, but thanks to the script I have discovered a world where to create a truth (the story) based on lies (the ideas) is possible. I may have a hidden talent in the craft of creating stories. I do not know where I will end up, but what I do know is that I love it.
Are you “always-on” or do you need your moments to disconnect to recharge?
I tend to be more active than I imagined years ago. Sometimes I am surprised by the long period of time that I am able to be “connected” with creativity. But several times a year there will be a moment when my mind says “stop.” It’s time to stop and that’s when I look for moments of withdrawal, whether as a couple, with friends, or alone. I really believe that I am able to maintain that creative rhythm so often thanks to the (solo) walks that I do every day: I grab my compact camera, put on my sports clothes and go for an hour or two walk, without thinking about nothing in particular; I let the thoughts come and go and relaxation takes over me. I guess it is a form of meditation actually.
If you need to recharge, how do you normally recharge?
When one of those “stops” that my mind asks me comes along, what I usually do is leave the camera in the closet for a few days, read books, travel, and do things that have nothing to do with creative matters. Something that works for me very, very well, it is a technique that I really do every day, but on “stop” days I notice that I apply it much more and better: it is called the “morning pages” technique. I learned it in the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. It is about creating the routine of writing every morning, as soon as we wake up, all the thoughts that randomly come to mind, without judging them. A kind of diary but without a filter of “this is nonsense, I don’t write it; I do not like this…”. I highly recommend this technique. It helps me a lot to (re)connect with my subconscious and my creativity.
What is the one bit of creative advice you wish you knew from the start?
Creativity is not like a cake, where there is only one slice for each of us and where, if my neighbor is creative, I cannot be. Creativity is infinite, and if you share it, it becomes more infinite.
Creative blocks can happen to everybody, what works for you to get out of them?
I anticipated this question and, on the one hand, I answered it with the “morning pages” technique. Technique that works great for me to get out of a blockage, because I connect with my subconscious, which is the most powerful creative tool we have and to which we listen very little. So thank you very much Julia Cameron! Another thing that helps me with creative blocks is to acknowledge (myself) that “I am in a creative block.”
I believe that our ego does not allow us to recognize ourselves as “creative blocked”. “It’s impossible,” we tell ourselves. “The blocks are for others, I am super creative, always”, another lie we tell ourselves. In the end, it is our ego that does not want to appear weak. The moment I recognize myself and say to myself “Dominic… the moment of a creative block has arrived, nothing happens”, it is the moment when I calm down and, little by little, I begin to come out of it.
Do you have a favorite piece of gear? And why?
I do have a favorite piece (and fundamental for my photography): my sports shoes. I am not one of needing expensive clothes, not at all, but when it comes to sports shoes, I always try to buy as comfortable as possible, even if that implies I pay three figures on some occasions. With experience, I have learned that thanks to comfortable shoes, I walk more and better, which directly affects my photographic style, both in terms of quality and quantity. It is easy to understand, but It took me many years (longer than I would have liked) to do it. Just three days ago I threw away a pair of sports shoes that were already very worn and I bought new ones.
Do you have any advice for contributors just starting out at Stocksy?
I’m going to tell you a piece of advice that a member of the Stocksy photo review team gave me that I can’t remember his name (sorry not to remember and thank you so much for the advice).
That they trust his photography style, that they don’t follow trends. If you did not enter Stocksy as a lifestyle photographer, then do not switch to this genre once inside. If they are inside it means that their photo style caught the attention of the Stocksy editor team, which means that thanks to their particular style, they have surely entered the community. I particularly made that mistake. My total attempts to enter Stocksy were four: the first three applications rejected me and the fourth I was accepted. I always did it with my style of photography, but only in the last one (the fourth), they accepted me.
Once inside, I tried to upload a lifestyle session that I did because I saw that it was more commercial. Well, this is when I got the message from the Stocksy member commenting at the beginning. He would say something like this: “Dominic, we have selected your work to enter Stocksy because you have a unique point of view for the motives of the street and the routine. Keep boosting it and offer us those wonderful photographs”.
I quickly got the message: don’t follow fads; be yourself.