has had photographs published in almost every newspaper on the East End, he shoots fashion for Newsday and he has been known to document a wedding on occasion, but the Sag Harbor photographer is a fine artist at heart.
While his commercial work has long been well received, Gonzalez recently earned some serious recognition for his fine art photography. His picture entitled “Corn Wheat Sky” won an honorable mention in the Americana category of the Photography Masters Cup, an international award competition for color photography.
"I entered as a professional and not an amateur, which is pretty prestigious," Gonzalez said, noting that this was the first time he entered the Masters Cup, and he only submitted one photograph.
The image, taken in Bridgehampton, appears almost as if it is a minimalist painting, with a layer of golden wheat growing just below green corn stalks and a cloudless blue sky. “It’s fine art,” Gonzalez said, explaining that art photography is where his passion lies. “I do the other stuff because I need to make a living.”
Gonzalez, 51, has been a professional photographer for 20 years, but he began taking pictures at age 16. “I was into art big time,” he said, but when he began traveling around the world, at first with his family, Gonzalez found photography best suited his needs.
“I couldn’t draw fast enough,” he said, describing his need to document his travels in a creative, visual way. Gonzalez picked up his first single-lens reflex camera in Singapore and he never stopped shooting.
The photographer grew up in Laguna Beach, Calif., and then moved to Hawaii before finally landing in New York City, where he met his wife, architect and artist Raun Norquist, and attended classes at the School of Visual Arts and the International Photography Center.
Gonzalez and Norquist moved to Sag Harbor after his landlord died and the couple needed a new space. A surfer and lover of the sea, Gonzalez said the East End was a nice fit. “I love shooting nature,” he said, explaining another reason he stays in Sag Harbor. “I shoot a lot of osprey,” he added. “I love it.”
Along with his success in the Masters Cup, Gonzalez was also nominated for an award in the portrait category in the Black and White Spider Awards. His portrait of a young punk rocker, entitled "Wild Child," did not win, but getting the nomination was quite an accomplishment in the professional class.
Gonzalez said he enjoys capturing people’s portraits on film, and his work has been compared to Diane Arbus, but his approach is different than that of a lot of other photographers. “I don’t just take their picture,” he said of his subjects. “Just think of the word — 'take' — it’s horrible,” Gonzalez remarked. “I have a conversation.”
Currently, when he’s not shooting real estate, architecture, art, fashion or news, Gonzalez is putting together a children’s story called "A Bee-Mitzvah," about Sag Harbor beekeeper Mary Woltz and her efforts saving a hive of honeybees. He pointed out that the hive was attached to an old printing press shed outside the on the property of in Bridgehampton. “It was like a time machine,” Gonzalez said of the shed and its contents.
Gonzalez is also focusing his lens on dance and how it brings people together in a wide array of cultures, places and eras. The final collection of photographs could be exhibited in one of the galleries where he has shown work over the years.
For more information and images, visit www.gonzophotostudio.com.
Editor's Note: Daniel Gonzalez is a contributor to Patch.