#WhyIRide: Daniel

Daniel Stewart, 19

You were born and raised in Chicago. What keeps you in Chicago?

There’s a certain vibe about the people here. I’m really drawn to the architecture as well. I’ve been to New York and stuff like that, but it’s not for me. I just can’t see myself leaving Chicago. I’ve got a certain connection with the city. No matter how long I’ve been out here, there’s a lot of stuff I know I haven’t seen yet.

What do you think makes Chicago unique?

We have a different breed of people. From my experience in other places, people are pretty rude. I don’t know what’s going on, man. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got our fair share of rude people too, but it’s different.

I do a lot of street portraiture, and I go up to people in the street and be like, “Yo, can I take your picture?” They’re typically all for it, as long as they didn’t have a bad day.

How long have you been taking photos?

Four years. I’m self taught. There was no photography class in my high school, so I decided I wanted to teach myself. But I feel like I started getting good a year and a half ago.

That’s awesome. What inspired you to start taking photos?

Not a lot of people know this, but I used to want to be a car designer. I used to draw a lot. Certain instances came up where I stopped drawing, but I still had my passion for cars. If I can’t draw anymore, I figured I would try taking pictures of them.

As cliche as it may sound, Instagram started to get popular around then, and I realized it was a great opportunity for me to shoot photos. I didn’t think much of it at first.  It wasn’t until I started seeing how serious people were on Instagram, the amount of passion in the community as far as photography goes. It goes beyond selfies. That really pushed me to want to try harder.

I would look at a photo and think, “Wow, that’s really dope. I wonder how they did that.” I had questions and different techniques I wanted to try. So, I did research. I started reading books. I started learning about photography. I guess I owe it all to my love of cars and Instagram, so shout out to that.

This campaign is perfect then? *laughs*

Right? *laughs* It’s the perfect mix of both.

Yeah. How would you describe your personal style when it comes to photography?

I try not to stick to one singular style. I’m a pretty vertistle as a shooter. I can go from having a bunch of street portraits to cityscapes to going underground, which is cool, but I’ve kind of ventured away from that for now.

If I had to compare my style to anybody, it would be like Henri Cartier-Bresson. He was a street photographer, but, like, the original street photographer. A lot of my work that I don’t show people are along that style. Just capturing the “the decisive moment” as he used to call it.

Your photography is really inspiring. Moving on to Uber, what’s been your most memorable trip so far?

One day, I was with a couple of friends. We were just going around the city, finding new and old spots, you know? We were actually pretty far away from this one spot we wanted to go to. So, we called the Uber, and he came and got us.

We were blasting music because the driver liked our taste. When we finally got to the location, it turned out that my driver was really deep into photography. We talked about that for a minute. We actually sat in the car for about 15 minutes just talking. I thought that was pretty dope. Just that we had a connection like that.

I actually ended up taking some of my best photos that day. The spot we had went to was somewhere I’d never been before. The mix of the spot, how we got there, and what happened when we got there all molded together to make for a great day. It may seem like my driver had a small part in that day, but the little stuff like that has a big impact.

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