Photographer Daniel Herron has just done that. I had a chance to sit down with Daniel to listen to his unique story. Daniel left the US in 2010 when the economy crashed. He decided he wanted to explore another country while at the same time challenging himself. His thinking is that we grow and accomplish the most when we are “out of our comfort zone” pushing ourselves and finding out just what we are made of.
Starting independently in a new country can be very challenging! There is the language, the culture differences one has to learn and adopt, in order to somehow fit it. It has taken him nine years in Bangkok of chasing work and finally landing some pretty interesting assignments. I know this, as we have been working together for most of the years Daniel has been in Bangkok.
Interviewing countless ambassadors has been fascinating. The events such as the opening of beautiful Park Hyatt and the huge shopping mall IconSiam, spectacular opening events on the Chao Phraya River, are great memories, Daniel says. Then Daniel connected with some Hollywood people that have relocated to Thailand. After establishing a warm friendship that leads to them asking him to work in a feature Hollywood film, starring Jean- Claude Van Damme, Mike Tyson and Christopher Lambert.
This is an opportunity that photographers rarely are able to get on, Daniel admits. It’s an insider track only possible by knowing people in the film industry and having the skills to work under such unique conditions.
Daniel was thrilled at the offer, but also knew the huge responsibility involved as the set photographers are what is used to promote the movie in advance of its release and must convey the director’s vision with impact! Long days and nights, sometimes no less than 12-14 hours, six days a week for at least 4-6 weeks. Filming in the heavy humidity in Thailand, Daniel said he lost around four kilos and was eating like a horse on the movie set.
Daniel says that working with Nicholas Cage, watching his seasoned skills and performance on the set, was absolutely amazing. “We began the film in a 1000 year-old cave, but during the Ottoman Empire. One hundred feet back underground filled with thick dust and smoke created by machines for effect.
“I just love the whole process of film making, watching the crew set-up, the rehearsals and then the performance on the camera. It’s really Movie Magic. To see it all put together on the big scene with music and effects….make it truly magical.” Daniel wants to get into producing and directing independent films as well. The creative process is challenging, but also stimulating and if you love what you are doing it almost always works.
The film shot on Cyprus, starring Nicholas Cage is titled ‘Jiu Jitsu’ and is to become released worldwide this coming spring. I also had to ask Daniel, as we are wrapping up our interview, a few questions I think you readers might like to hear about.
The answer comes quick. “Ridley Scott, the director. I’m impressed with his films. Richard Harris said of Scott, he is the best director one coul work with. He knows his craft so well and is in complete control of the production. I’ve seen Ridley Scott in interviews and he seems really down to earth with a great sense of humor.”
What were some of the most challenging or funny shoots you have worked on?
“Weddings and shooting for women’s organizations such as IWC (International Women’s Club). The ladies are having so much fun getting their photos taken I almost don’t shoot what the events are supposed to be about. It’s all out ‘Selfies Fest’”. Here I can only confess, Daniel is a 100 percent right.
Are where any risky aspects to your work?
“You, Agneta, and I have worked on many assignments together over the past nine years and once we went to Pattaya to interview a medical clinic working on stem cell procedures. We took the bus down from Bangkok and then we were crazy enough to share a motor bike, for a more than 30-minute ride to the clinic.
“This we wouldn’t do anymore, it was dangerous and ridiculous. Today we can laugh at it, but we were shaky when we arrived and I had not even a helmet on,” admits Daniel.
“Anything can happen during shooting, but until now I have been fortunate, no bad accidents. “Among the most touching experiences to me is meeting the Dr. Cleopandh who works at the Bumrungrad Hospital. She is giving 26 abandoned children a warm, safe home and also makes it possible for them to get an education. The money for this, she pulls out of her own pockets. Her Chaiyapruk Children’s Home doesn’t only extend an orphan’s life, but provides love and nurtures independence in each child.”
The Philosophy of Chaiyapruk Children’s Home: More than just the mere extension of life, our goal is to create a new path for the children.
Daniel has been visiting the home several times and got familiar with the kids. “They are so lovely young beings all of them and so grateful,” Daniel says. He is full of admiration for the doctor. The Children’s home is located in Ongkharak-Nakhonnayok, not too far from Bangkok. “I will visit them again at my next trip to Thailand,” he adds.
Unfortunately Daniel will say goodbye again and go back to the US, but he is not ready yet with Thailand, he will for sure, be back soon. “This country has become my second home.”