Every photographer’s path is different. For New York Institute of Photography grad John Daly, what began as a way to survive serving his homeland of Ireland turned to a money-making passion, and he now has a successful photography business far from the front lines, photographing wedding couples embarking on their futures.
At age 19, Daly joined the Irish Defense Forces, and by age 21 he was serving in the mountains of South Lebanon with a UN Peacekeeping Force. He was interested enough in photography that he’d brought along an old Olympus Pen half frame 35 mm, but once “the photography bug really started to bite” Daly invested in a Nikon F301. From that moment on, he hasn’t put his camera down.
On returning to Ireland he transferred to the Air Corp to train as an military aerial photographer.
“It was during this period that I also undertook the course with NYIP. The NYIP course blended very well with the military photographic training, as the military course was very hands-on and with great technical insight. The same could be said of the NYIP course, in particular the in-depth information given at the time with regards to darkroom processes and compositions of various chemical processes,” he said.
Daly’s next assignment was as an aerial photographer, and then he was appointed the Staff Photographer with the Defence Forces Press and Public Relations department.
“This job allowed a certain amount of autonomy and was responsible for giving me the opportunity to develop my skills in Press & PR --- I really enjoyed this appointment,” he said.
“Part of this job involved documenting the work of Irish troops in Lebanon, Cyprus and Somalia at the time. I returned to Lebanon again but this time as the official battalion photographer and spend six months documenting the daily work of the UN troops, a sometimes volatile but great experience,” Daly said. “I ran a major exhibition on this work at the premier exhibition centre in Dublin, the 'Guinness Storehouse' and appeared on national TV to promote the exhibition.”
Daly found that the NYI Course gave him the kind of comprehensive information he needed.
“I also loved the historical background given with some of the modules and the insight it gave me. It was these modules that got me thinking about photography in a social sense and that there is more to photography than just technicalities---the impact photography has on our day-to-day lives and on history.”
Now, Daly’s busy with his photography business at home; in 2007 he was awarded an Associateship in Wedding Photography from both the Irish Professional Photographers Association and the Master Photographers Association; this spring, he’ll be applying to the Federation of European Photographers (FEP) for his Qualified European Photographer (QEP) qualification, which is a Europe-wide professional qualification.
His success as a wedding photographer began while he was still serving in the military by shooting weddings in his spare time for friends. “With the help and support of some mentors in the IPPA & MPA my business became quite successful and I continued to develop my own style, and had great success in IPPA & MPA awards including winning IPPA Wedding Photographer of The Year on three occasions and the Overseas Classical Wedding Photographer with the MPA.”
In his wedding photography, Daly is able to create portraits of the wedding couple, the wedding party, and the guests that make the event come to life. And he does much of this work in black and white and sepia, which he finds is often requested by his clients.
“Black and white is the classical reportage medium, and can focus the viewer on the important part of the image without distracting color elements. It is the classical element in wedding photography from the past, and young couples are used to seeing their parents' wedding albums in black and white and like this romantic connection to the past.
With conversion techniques that make it easy to convert color to black and white, sometimes a photo calls to be converted. And yet, sometimes an image is obviously meant to be seen in color, such as this image of couple sitting in front of the surf shack on their wedding day.” It is just too vibrant an image to use another way,” Daly said.