News, Reviews and Interviews

Interview with Dan Carmichael

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Founder of 1stAngel Arts Magazine Social Area Manager on Fine Art America An oil painter by profession, it is actually my digital work which has been exhibited. I enjoy bringing art to non artists and artists to other artists. I have interviews on my magazine from all kinds of artist, writer and musician. I hope you enjoy them and my site as much as I do

Somewhere in a wilderness area, or off the beaten path, you will often find Dan Carmichael with his cameras and gear, searching for that elusive photo not yet taken. Seeking to capture the beauty that surrounds us with his unique eye for composition. Showing us our world in a fresh new way.

Later, in his North Carolina studio, you can find him pouring through image after image, looking for that unique composition that brings together the perfect mood, emotion and message. Once it is discovered, he will carefully craft the perfect traditional fine art photograph. He will often use that perfect print to create a painted photograph version, spending hours, perhaps days, creating a work of art that is truly as original as an oil painting, a work that can never be exactly duplicated again.


When did you first become interested in art, in general?

Probably around 2006.  I had been interested in photography for most of my life, but used film.  I began dabbling in digital cameras in the late 1990′s, but did not get my first professional-grade DSLR camera until 2006.  At that time is when I also began exploring Photoshop.  I quickly became proficient in photoshop and as a result of altering digital photos, began my first serious attempts at creating art from photographs.

When did you first become interested in photography, specifically?

As a child, probably around 1959 or so when my late grandmother gave me her old Brownie Box Camera

Symphony of Shadow - a Tranquil Moments Landscape

In what other forms of art do you also work, if any?

None, other than those related to photography.  I have hand-colored black and white prints with Marshall’s Photo Oils

On which style(s) of photography do you specialize?

Mostly landscape / scenic photography.  And within that genre, I always try to produce one traditional version of a taken photograph but also one altered (art) version of the same.

Has your style changed from when you first began? If so, why?

From the year 2006 when I purchased my first professional-grade DSLR to present, not much.  But from the old film days to the present digital, my style has changed enormously.  This is due to the ability to alter a digital photograph in Photoshop as compared to the old film days processing in chemicals.

Small Flower in Moss - Greensboro North Carolina II

What kind of equipment do you use?

I use Canon DSLR camera equipment and Photoshop on a Windows-based PC system.

What made you choose that equipment?

In my first point-and-shoot digital days, I used Nikon equipment.  But when I purchased my first professional DSLR, I chose Canon because at that time Canon was generally known to have better quality lenses and a better selection of focal lengths within those lenses.  And as any knowledgeable photographer will tell you, “it’s all about the glass.”

How do you choose what you’re going to photograph?

As simple as it may sound, I go to an area and look for things to shoot.  However, that simple answer may make it sound like not much effort is spent, which is not the case.  I spend long hours and work hard at my photography.  As a general rule, I like to be at a location at least one hour before sunrise to grab first-light, and typically shoot all day until past sunset.  Some locations have been hundreds of miles from home which necessitated a drive of over 5 hours to get there before sunrise.  Once in an area shooting, I work non-stop and do not break all day.  I retrofitted a vehicle with storage which enables me to carry all supplies needed for the day.  From food to water and from toilet paper to insect repellant, I am totally self-contained.  The ability to shoot continuously and not have to break for meals or otherwise enables me to maximize my time.  I have been known to work continuously for almost 20 hours per day, sleep for 4, then repeat the cycle every day for a week.  As I said, I work hard at my photography.

Painted Shipwreck on the Outer Banks

How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?

The answer to both questions would depend upon the image.  Some images are best left as a traditional photograph, and others are turned into art.  I shoot pictures in a camera format called RAW.  RAW images files always need at least a little work such as contrast, brightness, colors, etc. because they are not processed and enhanced in the camera automatically as the JPG format is.  For the images that are also turned into a work of art, I can work on it as little as a few hours or as long as multiple days (digitally) hand-brushing / altering the image.

How do you know when a piece is finished? Is it easy to walk away?

I know when an image is finished when it feels right.  I may work for hours or days on an image trying to produce an artistic version of a photo, but when it is all said and done, if the result does not feel right, it is trashed and the image is published only in the traditional style.  And yes, if it does not feel right or look right, it is easy to throw away.  It is disappointing after having spent a lot of time on it, but nonetheless if it needs to be trashed, it is.

Fall on Steroids - Blue Ridge Parkway

What do you do to overcome a ‘block’?

I typically do not experience blocks when in the field shooting.  The only time I really feel a creative block is when producing art on the computer.  The solution, then, is to go out and shoot some pictures.

How well do you take criticism and how do you make use of it?

I take criticism well and have gained knowledge from others with it.  Generally, I know what my vision is for a work and can achieve it.  The criticism that has helped me grow the most is on smaller, subtle points that I overlooked because my focus and concentration was on the larger vision as a whole.

Blue Ridge Parkway - Foggy Country Road and Trees - H

Who is your favourite photographer
As strange as it may sound, I don’t really have one.  I realized a long time ago that a key to successful photography is for the photographer to develop a style of his or her own.  Because of that, I purposely resist idolizing other photographers and copying their styles.

Which one of your photographs is your favourite?

There is no easy answer for that, either.  Favorite in which style?  Traditional?  Artsy?  Surreal?  Abstract?  I can and do produce them all, plus more.  My favorite would probably be the most recent work created.

Boat Beached by a Tropical Storm on Pea Island Outer Banks North

Have you exhibited any of your work in galleries?

Yes as well as in other locations ranging from libraries to the Governor’s mansion.

Will your work be included at any upcoming contests or galleries?

Not in the near future because I no longer enter contests and galleries, like so many other business, have fallen on hard economic times.  Over 70% of the galleries located in my immediate area have closed over recent years.

A New Beginning - Blue Ridge Parkway Sunrise

What are your plans for the future?

To continue shooting in the field, and processing in the studio.

What advice do you have for budding photographers?

Study the basics.  Understand and know how to manipulate things such as exposure, depth of field, etc. automatically, without thought.  Know your equipment.  You should know how to utilize every feature or setting on your camera and lenses no matter how insignificant or small.  Develop your own style.  And finally, shoot everything.  Don’t be just a “sunny sky / fair weather” photographer.  Shoot everything, at all times, and under every condition (being safe, of course).

Have you done any courses to help you?

No.  I am completely self-taught.

Do you use social networking in your day to day life?

Not as much as I should.  I tend to not like the world of social media, but am told it is the key to increasing sales.  I plan on developing my presence in it more.  At present, about the only social activity to follow would be my images galleries online and the blog, both of which can be viewed by first going to and clicking on the links.

Are you available for work (commissions)?

Yes, but acceptance of the work would depend upon the nature of it.

Have you got hobbies?

Yes, photography.  LOL.

Where are you based?

The beautifully diverse state of North Carolina.

White Boats

© 2013, Isabella Francesca Abigail Shores. All rights reserved.

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  1. Melissa Bittinger /

    Wonderful interview, fascinating to learn a little about someone's process. Dan's process is apparently quite focused and that attention certainly shows in the quality and unspoken stories of his images. Thank you 1st Angel and thank you Dan Carmichael for sharing some of your process and devotion to your craft.
    Melissa Bittinger
    North Carolina

  2. I didn't know all those things about Dan! He is a visible presence on Fine Art America, it is great to know that someone with his background is adding to the "culture!"
    My recent post Venice Carnival Masque And Cloak by Suzanne Powers

  3. Dan Richards /

    I liked this. So much of this is what any artist would realize. Even when we are not out doing one project, we are often working on another. An so true about the glass as well, a camera is nothing without the glass, and when the camera is nothing, so is the photographer.

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