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Capturing ordinarily beautiful faces along Orchard Road, Danny Santos II captivates with his work and showcases his outsider perspective. Hailing from the Philippines and being a graphic designer by trade, he walks around Orchard Road 2-3 hours at a time, photographing people that interest him.

Danny shares about his work and motivations.

Let’s start with the basics, what made you begin taking street photographs?


Well I’ve always wanted to. Working in the creative industry, I have always wanted to recreate the beauty in some of the images that I loved. Plus, coming to Singapore meant that I had a greater opportunity to do so. It really is so photogenic here: landscapes, building, people… I remember when I came to Orchard Road for the first time; I immediately went “wow!” and took out my cell phone camera. It’s also safer, as you can take out your DSLR and cell phone while on the streets without fear of getting mugged.


How do you select your subjects?


It’s pretty simple. I pick out a subject that interests me; someone that stands out. Sometimes people question why most of my photographs are of women, whereas only like 40% are of men. As a heterosexual man, a beautiful woman is naturally more interesting to me.


Do you feel restricted by whether or not your subjects let you take their photograph?


It depends on whether or not I’m using a candid approach. In my “Portraits of strangers” project, it was all about asking for permission and respecting my subjects’ choice. I think it’s just common sense for avoiding trouble and taking the photo as quickly and discreetly as possible. Sometimes I feel obligated to not take the photo, or when the opportunity passes on its own.


In your “Portraits of strangers” project you request your subjects not to smile.


Yes, well people smile every time in front of the camera. And that same smile would have been practiced so many times to the point where it becomes contrived. In the first place when I first saw them, they weren’t smiling.


Do you normally ask for your subjects’ name?


No I don’t. It makes the process “cleaner” and quicker, but more importantly it creates a sense of mystery and a desire to know the subject. I prefer the sense of it being an encounter versus familiarity. Though I usually give them my card after.


With your photography so influenced by your personal view do you think it represents you?


Yes, it is like being identified through your own work. I’m awestruck by this beauty. I guess in that sense, my work represents my view; of what interests me and the diversity I see on the streets.


Any other comments about street photography?


I think it’s all about luck. There are ways that you can “increase” your luck i.e. going somewhere with good lighting or human traffic, but ultimately it’s about chance and it’s always a hit or miss. I used to feel the need to have great shots each time I shoot, but now I understand I don’t have to. It’s hard taking street photography, and some photographers just make it seem so effortless.

Amelia Fong

View more of Danny’s intriguing work at http://www.dannyst.com/.

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