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Dan McClanahan


Professionally Dan is a 2011 International Platinum Photographer of the Year (PPA). Personally he’s a drummer, snowboarder, Harry Potter geek and spicy-food-connoiuseur. He runs McClanahan Studio with his best friend and wife, Alex, specializing in high school seniors, high-end weddings and commercial photography.Life is short and should be savored. To us great portraiture is much more than lighting and composition – great portraiture comes from a genuine connection between the subject and the photographer. Content trumps artistry. Our goal is to make images that combine content and artistry. Whether content be an intimate touch on a wedding day or an authentic laugh during a senior session, it’s what will stand the test of time.As photographers we’re entrusted with the task of impacting people’s perceptions of themselves through our interaction and ultimately through how we choose to portray them. We love working as photographers because it gives us the ability to make people feel great about themselves and at the same time it fulfills our natural desire to play and create.

How did you get started in the business? Who helped/guided/mentored you?

I was fortunate to stumble upon photography by accident. My major was writing but late in the game I randomly took a photojournalism elective with the brilliant Dennis Chamberlin that made me fall in love with photo. Alex and I graduated in 2008 with no intention of becoming professional photographers but the economy went sour and we couldn’t get “real jobs” so we decided to start a studio in 2009. Since then we’ve been working hard and have been blessed with great friends (many of whom we met through After Dark) that have helped us immensely along the way.

From Dan:

“I have great admiration for many of the mentors I’ve met through After Dark, but my all time favorite photographer is Parker J Pfiester. I draw most of my inspiration from magazines, movies and music.

If you’re thinking about coming to another After Dark Event, remember photography is endless and there’s always more to learn. Attending a single AD event is like taking a 2-year university program fused with the best house party you’ve ever been to, then dehydrating and shrink-wrapping that experience into 3 days of life-changing deliciousness. Come to think of it, AD should really be illegal. So you’d better attend and feed your addiction while you can because once the government finds out how much fun we have they will inevitably shut us down. If you’ve never been to After Dark Before, have an open mind and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s fast paced so don’t expect to be spoon fed, but the more you engage the more you will get out of it. Don’t be afraid to have conversations with strangers in the elevator. Also, buy a couple 5-hour Engergy’s before you board the plane;)‘Live passionately in all regards and make sure you do at least one extremely silly thing each day for no good reason.’

How many After Dark’s have you attended? Any favorite moments?
I have attended 5. I hope to someday be on the dance floor with After Dark at a wedding reception and win the prize for being together the longest during the anniversary dance:)Favorite moments are watching the chaos that ensues late in the evening. Eyes are lighting up and brains are exploding. Everybody is having a blast with everybody else and great images are being made. ”

Top 5 Skills:

  1. Creativity
  2. Location Lighting
  3. Hugging:)
  4. Viral Marketing
  5. Branding
  6. Photoshop

Contact Info:

Fun Facts:

  • Canon Shooter
  • HS Seniors in Studio
  • Weddings Across the Country
  • Commercial in the Midwest

Majority of Business:

  • HS Seniors 50 per year
  • Weddings 15 per year
  • Commercial Work
  • We could work a lot more but we value taking time off to focus on personal projects and life outside photography.


  • Natural Light (as much as possible)
  • Speedlights on Location
  • Strobes for Commercial