Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith is a photographer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. I met Daniel at his graduate show at Free Range (London) and was instantly drawn in by the feelings of solitude in his work. I also saw that he was raising money CALM and we had a brief chat about his work. Daniel shares his work Fade Out, a personal project highlighting men’s mental health.

What is your background in photography and how would you describe your work?

I have just graduated with a BA in Professional Photography so my photographic journey is really just starting. My personal work is a chance for me to visually explore themes and concepts that matter to me.

How did the concept for your project Fade Out come about?

The idea to create Fade Out came from my own personal experience with depression. I drew inspiration from music (Radiohead, Neil Young, Amber Run to name a few) as well as from TV (the colour palette for the series is influenced by True Detective). I like to fully immerse myself in any personal work that I produce and often draw inspiration from other forms of art.

Have you always used photography to explore mental health difficulties, or is this your first project in that field?

I have explored it twice previous to Fade Out but I feel as though this is the first time I’ve been successful with it.

I’m curious about the process of creating the images. Was each photograph carefully considered, or do you shoot the images in accordance to your mood?

I kept a research workbook where I compiled all sorts of inspiration (lyrics, paintings, photographs, poems, quotes from books, sketches). I spent a good 3 months almost completely dedicated to making the series. This meant I had a lot of time to plan and create the shots in my head before actually picking up my camera.

Do you shoot the images alone or with someone? What are you thinking about/feeling when making the work?

I shot most of these with another person. Either my girlfriend/assistant or my friend who is the subject in most of the images. Great question. I think I was able to detach myself from it when I was behind the camera. I actually felt more emotionally when I was editing them later on.

Has making the series impacted your experience with depression at all?

Greatly. By doing lots of research into depression and male suicide, I understood my own condition better. The final images also serve as a reminder that I’m not alone and that there is work to be done.

What has it been like sharing the images? What kind of response have they received?

It has been incredible. People have shared their own experiences with both depression and suicide with me. I believe something special happens when people who have or are struggling with depression open up to one another.

What do you hope others take away from Fade Out?

I hope it raises awareness about the scale and impact of male suicide. If the same amount of men died every year from another cause, we would be talking about it and try and find solutions so why not suicide?

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