Dan Frievalt is a photographer that enjoys blending creative light with graphic design to create artistic images that evoke drama and tell a story. Dan’s formal education includes an Associate degree in Marketing Communications and has worked as a Graphic Artist for 12 years before changing his career path to photography in 2005. “I always enjoyed photography but ever since digital capture I have found a new voice in creating images by combining my design background with my eye for photography.” In 2011 Dan was named Wisconsin Professional Photographer of the Year as well as earning the Canon Par Excellence Award and Platinum Photographer of the Year by PPA.
How did you get started in the business? Who helped/guided/mentored you?
The entire After Dark mentor team. I feel that everyone who has been a mentor or is a mentor at After Dark is top notch and I have learned and admired everyone of them in my photographic journey and I will continue to learn from them. I feel honored and blessed to be a part of this awesome team of individuals who selfishly share their information with others.
I have a passion for photography, cinema, art and fashion. My photographic style is derived from all of those inspirations. I love what I do for a living and feel very blessed that everyday I get to use my passion to create images for my clients whether it be a high school senior, a wedding couple or a model.
Photography is my life and I enjoy sharing what I have learned. I believe that if you surround yourself with talented people your skills will improve. Simply put the best way to learn is by doing, that is what I love about the After Dark experience. I have sat through far too many lectures about photography…lets get out and shoot! Let me show you what I am doing, have you try it so that you can go home and implement it ASAP. I firmly believe that is how creative people learn and that is why I am excited to be a mentor for After Dark.
My advice for anyone attending After Dark for the first time is to really do your research on each mentor before coming. After you have found a few that you really connect with their work, stick with them like glue for the entire three days. With so many great mentors and pods going on at one time you will be tempted to jump around and try to see everyone. If you do that I feel you will be overwhelmed and walk away with less information than if you stick to one or two people. Focus on what they are doing and come home with a few techniques that you can implement right away. I also recommend that before coming schedule a day when you get back with a friend or model that you can practice what you have learned in your own backyard right away. So many times we go to learn these great things and then we jump right back into the grind catching up and its easy to forget or not implement what we just learned. If you find yourself doing that, make sure you plan a day right now for the day you return to practice otherwise you are wasting your education. I would also suggest that you pick one person for photography and one for business, because without both skills your business will fail. You will be tempted as a creative person to just pick the fun artistic pods, but I urge you to spend some time on your business. Going along the lines of what I said above I would also suggest spending a day going over your business plan when you return as well. Take a day and go out of your studio to do this, go to a coffee shop or somewhere where you will not be temped by any photography related or personal distractions.
I would suggest that people attend more than one After Dark for the reasons I listed above. There is no way you can attend one After Dark and walk away with everything from everyone. With so many mentors and so much information you could attend every single After Dark and still learn a ton of great info, or just be inspired and recharged. Plus Dave is always bringing in new talent, so the mentors are changing and the regular mentors are meshing with each other as teams to bring even more awesomeness to the table. Also the connections you will make with other attendees are priceless. It’s great to meet someone from another market who you can follow, watch grow and bounce ideas off of. I have met and become friends with so many of the returning AD photographers and I enjoy seeing them succeed in business and life. I also love seeing them at each event, its like a big family reunion with my AD family.
Why is education important to you? How long have you been teaching? What made you get into teaching? What do you get out of being a mentor?
I feel education is very important so that I as a artist am always on the cutting edge. I also feel that I will never truly know everything about photography, but I can always push myself to learn as much as I can. Once you stop learning, you stop growing as a professional. I always want to keep growing.
I have been teaching for about two years. I got into teaching by being asked at my local photography group (WPPA) to do a one night program. After than I had several other photographers ask me to teach and so I started doing workshops at my studio and teaching to other groups and conventions. After I went to my first After Dark in Minneapolis, I knew that I wanted to be a mentor for them and thankfully they accepted me.
I believe that I learn so much by being a mentor for After Dark. When you are put into a teaching position you really have to know what you are talking about and be able to communicate it to others. Teaching has defiantly made me a better photographer. I also like the feeling of helping photographers and seeing those new to the industry grow and become successful. I know I wouldn’t be the photographer I am now if it wasn’t for other photographers teaching me, so this is my way of giving back.