We had the good fortune of connecting with Daniel Lehenbauer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Daniel, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
With the work I do, I’ve always been inspired by aspects of the occult. I tend to move from one area of it to the next within my work. When I started shooting at 16, I was inspired by fairytales. I wanted to do the type of shoots that made people feel something through the light and the image itself. My goal was simple: make people see themselves in a different light, through the light they’re shot in, then maybe they can see an aspect that was never once seen before. Even though fairytales started my inspiration, I changed my path and started seeing more in the occult and horror movies. Old classics like Scream, Friday the 13th, Chucky, etc. I’ve always been inspired by the type of perseverance those main characters had to face through their own devistations. Sometimes to reach the end and sometimes to not. I find that work isn’t fully linear, it’s always changing and that’s what’s exciting about pulling out those kind of inspirational paths in what I enjoy to shoot.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I think what makes me different or normal from everyone else is that I don’t just focus on only shooting pictures. Photography makes me happy and I know to get the success I seek one day, it isn’t in numbers, fame, or money in that aspect, but reminding myself of the goal I’ve chosen. Today, I read tarot cards when I’m not shooting. I assist executives. I produce shoots. I paint.. It’s never been easy to feel like I have a solid path in photography; I believe that’s why there has to be multiple options for us to face. Our goals are never easy to achieve. Even when we wish to shoot covers, be in editorial, we can do more than just be one facet of ourselves. My work with reading cards has shown me more insight into my own work in photography and how to actively take pictures of people. To see hidden aspects within themselves, even in the simplest of settings. When I assist others to help achieve their goals, it gives me a different vantage. It shows me that my zenith should never be just a simple goal. I’ve learnt that work isn’t work if it isn’t fun. If you aren’t enjoying the process, then you get stuck in a mental grind. But it becomes power you’ve chosen to give energy to. If you can’t make it fun, then we need to see ourselves clearly; quite literally it can also mean needing to stop and view the horizon rather than the next journey we’re about to take. It’s not easy to feel like you’re on the right track. It never is. That doesn’t mean you aren’t though, it just means that maybe you aren’t taking a moment to see just how much you’ve managed to accomplish up until this moment. We can be focused on our goals workwise, but who we become out of those goals is more important than fame or accolade for what we do.
My goals never stop, they change. They always become slightly different from what was originally intended but they become better versions of themselves, even when I hit my own lows and think that I haven’t achieved what I wanted to. That’s when we need to stop and take an overall look. There’s so much to be thankful for.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I were to go anywhere in Sedona, I’d suggest the Oak Creek Canyon. Everytime I drive through the canyon, I find hidden spots to stop at. I find places that are exciting to explore and small areas that just help me end up clearing my mind in the best way possible. I’d also suggest hitting up some of my favorite hiking spots, like Bell Rock, Fossil Creek, Angel’s Valley, Rachel’s Knoll, the Stoopa, Cathedral Rock, and if you can muster it, climbing up to the top of Thunder Mountain has always been on my bucket list for Sedona, too!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I always think about my parents when this kind of question comes up. As much as I can say I only have myself to thank for pushing my work forward, it’s always through their support that pulls me out and pushes me forward. It’s a cliche really, but I think I couldn’t have done what I do in life without them financially supporting a good chunk of those endeavors. Even when they don’t know much about the fashion industry, they were always supportive. They always chose to support the unknown rather than over-thinking it. When I felt like I couldn’t speak out to them and tell them what’s on my mind, they always listened. They always pushed me when I was at my lows to remember that my lows are just moments of power that I’ve chosen to give into. I have my close friends to think of as well- the ones who remind me that not everything can happen in the speed we seek it to increase in, the ones who call you out when you need a reality check. I have a small number of friends; but I find that focusing on developing closer friendships than having thousands of friends is more important to me than ones that come in fleeting moments, more specifically, Annabelle, Kayla, Ches, Kendal, Ariel, and Lauren, they’ve proven to me that things like location don’t matter when it comes to building lasting moments even when we’re hundreds of miles apart. I still think of them- though sometimes I worry I take advantage of their support far too much in life, but I know it’s also a returned streak.
It’s a bit much but without collective support, we can’t see just how much we’ve managed to accomplish over a short amount of time that we have to exist. It takes everyone. I have my boss, Anita, to thank, for always hearing me, speaking out when I can’t take anymore and reminding me of my own power.
Models in order: Khrystyana, Paige Honeycutt, Sadie Pinn, Angela Carpentier, Don Hood, Lluvy, Wyatt Cushmann