Daniel Kosoy – Just Occasionally Satirical

A visual raconteur, Daniel’s work of even the mundane is intriguing and commands your attention. Check out his story below. 


Say hello to Daniel:

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Where are you from?  Where have you been?

I’m the son of a jeweler and a seamstress, both from Kiev. They raised me in West Hollywood where I spent most of my life. I have recently been living in Morningside Heights and Brooklyn. In terms of where I’ve been,  mostly in the country – I head up the I-5 every now and then.


What’s on your “bucket list” of ideas to create?

Many projects involving travel – for one, I plan to take the Amtrak across the US and spend some time on every stop, or at the very least the ones that pique my interest. I plan to visit Ukraine as well and join the art scene there for a while.

There’s a lot to experience, I’m still young and stupid…I’m sure my disposition will help me a bunch, like encountering the unexpected. What I’m trying to get at is that this “bucket list” of mine really leaves a lot to chance.


How would you describe your visual style?

Composition heavy, technically driven, occasionally sardonic (for good measure).


What response do you hope to evoke from viewers of your work?

Reach for checkbook.


Tell us about your shoot with Jesus.

Jesus, formally known as Kevin, is my neighbor. I’ve known him since I was a kid through just being around West Hollywood and encountering him on the street enough times – the guy walks everywhere. He attracts a lot of attention too, you know since he’s the dude that died for our sins. Makes it really hard for him to get anywhere on time, though that works to my advantage – I sort of just let the people do their thing and trail him for a while. When he manages to escape the crowds, he would pop into a store and there would usually be good enough lighting and I’d just begin firing away. He went to art school in Pasadena, CA and enrolled in a really good program that I can’t remember off the top of my head. He has very specific ideas about how his character should be portrayed, so it was a real collaborative effort between us.


Tell us about your career.  How did you get into it?

Though still in the adolescent stage of my career, I can say that I got into it because of a great teacher who pried out whatever talent he saw in me. After high school, I was a photography major at Santa Monica College taking photos for good grades and positive crits. I began to desire experience in the industry and moved to New York. There, I began working in studios and found my way into Milk Studios – I learn a lot in their digital department and applied it to a few DT and assistant gigs, eventually landing an apprenticeship with Brad Elterman, that still goes to this day.

When I’m not working, I tend to take a camera around wherever I go, photographing friends, strangers, and the environment, framing them all. My career up until this year was a personal one, really focusing on the fine art aspect of photography. Recently, I’ve pivoted to a more editorial approach, still preserving the identity of my past work.  I now live in Los Angeles and New York, constantly evaluating which will bring me more work. I hope to be living in neither soon.


What is the strangest situation you’ve ever faced as a photographer?

I encounter a lot on the road – one place sticks with me especially, Bakersfield. I’ve seen some things there. Drive through 24th St some time…. Dude standing in the middle of the street with a buck knife right as you get in… Some real dark shit went on there too.


What has been your biggest setback as a photographer?

Just the cost of everything from processing to new equipment, and the fact that I’ll never really stop paying for things. Renting isn’t any better since they still require a hold on the item for full price.


Photography is competitive.  How do you stand out?

When I shoot, I try to forget about what’s expected of me and focus on what’s around me. I know that there is something in the space around me that will elevate this shoot to the next level. So I try to control everything I can within the frame and its surroundings, and I think hard about what I can get out of every location, outfit, pose, prop, etc… Basically, it’s a lot of meticulous planning and being careful of what I’m dismissing.

Doing my own thing helps too. In terms of not clinging on to what’s hot – what every dude with a camera is trying to replicate. It really makes my head hurt sometimes, when I’m looking through Instagram’s discover page and I see the same themes being spun to oblivion.


What’s the best advice you can think of for someone just starting in photography?

Take criticism.


What is the best thing a model can do to make the most of a photo-shoot?

In terms of wardrobe, bring every piece of clothing you love and bring items that have sentimental value to you as well.

Also, never compromise your values. Do not let someone depict you in a way that you do not want to be shown to an audience across the world. There are always alternatives and that requires a lot of communication. I really can’t stress enough the value of communicating.


What was your most memorable photoshoot?

Definitely, the day I spent with Jesus because of the insane amount of attention he would attract. I felt like I was in God’s entourage – that probably has some good benefits to it.  


What’s the funniest story you have from being a photographer?

Looking back, it’s kind of funny – I had a shoot in Joshua Tree a few years back. We got up extra early to get there and all that – once we arrived, the lighting was absolutely horrible. So I just turned around immediately and just left…didn’t take a single photo.


If you could photograph anyone in the world, who would it be?

Stephen Malkmus – I grew up on the guy’s music. I remember seeing him play on Space Ghost, impersonating the Beatles and just screaming Space Ghost. I was like seven years old, watching Adult Swim in my room while my parents were asleep. I thought it was incredible at the time – I still do honestly. I just want to hug the guy and maybe get a lock of his hair or something. Hey SM, hit me up some time!


Who was the most unforgettable model you’ve ever met?

I don’t know. I met Bieber once – he models sometimes. He has a full security team do a sweep before he enters a room. When he came in, he just pitched an app that was basically a knockoff of Instagram. Really inarticulate too. Please don’t disappear me….


Who do you want to give a shoutout to?

Shout out to Brad Elterman, you’re like my photo dad now. Shout out Richie Davis for putting me on (insert 100 emoji).


What’s your philosophy when it comes to being a great photographer?

Understand that progress isn’t linear; also, keep a novice’s mentality and stay humble.


What’s a deal breaker for you when deciding to do a shoot?

The weather and wardrobe, usually.


How do you bring out your model’s personality in a shoot?

Before the shoot, I like to grab a coffee with whomever I’m photographing. There, we talk about our respective visions for the shoot. We establish boundaries as well – I like to know what the model is and isn’t comfortable with, then adjust accordingly. Trust is really important, and it reflects in my images.


What do you think is the biggest thing holding you back in your photography?

Money.


How do you express yourself through your photography?

I photograph what I want to see.


What’s the most inspiring photo you’ve ever seen?

I can’t attribute it to one, but if I had a top 10, the G.O.A.T. James Nachtwey’s photos would be in all of the slots.


What photography advice do you wish you had when you were first starting out?

Take advantage of all institutional help – pretty soon, you’ll be paying for everything from ink to advice.


What are 3 tips you have for aspiring photographers?

  • Start shooting what you know the best.
  • Learn how to write a damn good email.
  • Take any opportunity that would further your career.

What are 3 tips you have for aspiring models?

  • Reach out to student photographers – they can help you build a solid book that stands out.
  • Cultivate a personality and style that is true to yourself.
  • Add to your talent.

What kind of gear do you have?

I love to use the Hasselblad 503cw because I only want to see the world through the Hasselblad’s viewfinder. It honestly changed my life – I recommend trying it some time.


What’s one lighting tip you’d like to share with other photographers?

Everywhere you go, carry a c-stand and one of those 8 in 1 reflector / scrim / diffuser things in the trunk of your car.


What’s one post-processing tip you’d like to share with other photographers?

I don’t trust scanners much in terms of color calibration – be prepared to do a lot of color correcting on your own. Also, calibrate your laptop’s. It’ll drive you crazy if you don’t.


Do you have any projects you’d like to show off?

Yes, a project on Voyeurism I will be adding to for a while.

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What is your most life-changing event?

Living on my own in New York and struggling – it taught me a lot about myself. Struggling got me to appreciate where I could be if I took my work seriously.


What’s something no one knows about you that you’d like to share?

I hate musicals – I just can’t do it. Seriously, if you put one on, I’ll just leave.


Who’s your biggest hero in your life?

James Nachtwey.


What’s one of your biggest fears?

Exposing one of my rolls of 120 film…. They really aren’t that secure from light leaks.


What will you be doing five years from now?

Traveling the globe and taking portraits of those that I encounter and telling people their stories.


What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

I went outside without a camera once.


What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?

Travel with my expenses covered.


For anyone that wants to get in touch with Daniel, here’s some contact information:

FStop: Profile

Instagram: @Danielkosoy

Tumblr: Page


Daniel, thanks for taking the time to interview with us!

If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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