The name Shan Dan Horan rolls off the tongue effortlessly, but more so due to the artist’s formidable presence within the Talenthouse community. His signature grim, Burtonesque style of work has garnered him much attention within the past year, earning him Talenthouse’s 2012 Photographer of the Year Award.
Having much success with previous Creative Invites and establishing a dedicated follower base, it is clear that Shan Dan Horan’s dark and twisted aesthetic is rightfully deserved.
Talenthouse caught up with Horan to glimpse through his artistic lens.
TH: Any photographs that you’re most proud of, and what do they mean to you?
Horan: I’m proud of the more simple model photos I’ve done. Strictly a model a white backdrop and some ring lights. I didn’t even use photoshop for the majority of them. Just a well set up proper photo shoot. It makes you appreciate beauty without having to fake it in post.
TH: What do you think makes a photographer good?
Horan: A great photographer is one that doesn’t stop learning and trying different concepts (even if they don’t work out). If you quit learning, you become stagnant and irrelevant. At one point in time, I got in a three hour conversation with a photographer that refused to use a dslr. Now he is so far behind that he gave up on his craft entirely. To master your craft (which hopefully I will one day) you really need to devote your time to learning every aspect of it, Everything from developing your own homemade pin hole camera film in a dark room to complex edits from a $30,000 camera. Learn as much as you can and don’t stop.
TH: What’s the best advice someone ever gave you?
Horan: The best advice I’ve been given was a quote from an old mentor of mine. He would always say “ready, fire, aim.” It meant something completely different to him in the world of business, but what I took from it stayed with me for life. Any project that seemed to complex, or if the plan still wasn’t organized to an unquestionable 150%, I would push forward regardless. The funny part is, those projects always would come out the best! It just goes to show, don’t let anything hold your creativity back, and try things on set you hadn’t planned on trying. They just might come out being the crown jewel of your portfolio.
TH: What other creative outlets do you use?
Horan: I love to shoot video. In the past five years I’ve been getting really into animation and 3D modeling. At this point I’ve made everything from music videos, lyric videos, to advanced cgi compositions. The interesting part of hopping into this realm is how relative a background in photography is. Lighting, exposure, lenses, depth of field, it’s all relative.
I long for projects that make me lose sleep, those motivate me.
TH: How do you keep yourself motivated?
Horan: The key is a lot of caffeine, and a positive outlook. It’s also good to work on projects you enjoy that you can invest your creative passion into. I’ve worked on a ton of projects strictly to pay the bills, and it’s boring sometimes. I can’t help but relate to the tattooist who tattoos the same butterfly flash art on someone’s lower back 5 times a day for five years straight. It pays the bills, but you’re not going to be laying in bed at night thinking of that piece.
TH: Describe your photography in three words.
Horan: Dark, Diverse, modern.