Venice Beach has always bred fine photographers. Legends like Craig Stecyk and Dennis Hopper used the city's landscape to create iconic imagery. From the grit of the city, the beauty of the beach, hardened thugs, mad transients, affluence, graffiti and tech, Venice is a bouquet of inspiration. It has the scenery to encourage the blandest, most civilized individual to pick up a camera and snap away (or at least use an iPhone). There’s good reason the biggest fashion houses in the world come to Venice to shoot their latest campaigns; yet for the last 10+ years, there hasn’t been a photographer from Venice to rise up and take the role, until now. That man is the wonderful Dan Regan, a born and raised Venitian. Dan represents everything that Venice once was, he’s tough but fair, community driven and puts his friends first, but that doesn’t make him a great photographer. What sets Dan apart is his unique ability to illuminate a hard canvas. Through his affinity with film he makes a gritty, unrelenting landscape appear inviting. Today Dan, an internationally recognized photographer, is shooting everyone from Band of Outsiders to Gucci, Stussy and more. He even makes time for his pals at General Admission and has been the lensman behind our last two campaigns. I tracked Dan down in St. Lucia and asked him a few questions for the zine.
All photos of Dan by Steven Traylor
GA: Best memory growing up in Venice?
Dan: Thats a tough question - I think for me it would have to be between going to cafe 50s in the back of my friends dads Volvo he had one long earring and it smelled like pot and he played in a band and none of us would have wear seat belts because we were sat 5 across the back seat or my sisters boyfriend at the time taking us fishing and getting us fire works to light off of the pier teaching us how to slap box or surfing early In the morning before school, going to Venice high football games on Friday nights , shooting dice. Whatever it was we did Venice felt like our backyard.
GA: If there was one thing you could resurrect in Venice what would it be?
Dan: All of it - just wish it hadn't changed so fast - the graffiti pit - glencrest barbeque - rose market - Venice originals - the superba store - sideshow tattoo - Allan's Aquarium - Hal's - the Garter - Jungle video - Muni's leaving out so many and not to mention the families and homes we grew up in, feels like every week Venice loses a little more of what made Venice, Venice. I wish we could bring it all back.
GA: What do you think of all the fashion/designer brands trying to tap into the Venice scene and using it for their branding benefit?
GA: Which era of Venice culture do you wish you were alive to document and be apart of?
Dan: I like my era I wouldn't trade it for anything I wouldn't say its any where near some of the highly romanticized eras for Venice at all we did the best we could to work with what was there for us and represent Venice well to respect our elders and carry the traditions that had been passed on to us.
GA: With all the international travel you’re doing these days does Venice culture still inspire you?
GA: You recently shot a Gucci campaign, did you ever think you’d be shooting high-end fashion and did that place a lot of pressure on you?
Dan: At the time I laughed about it had only been taking photos like that for a little over a year. The environment I was stepping into was so opposite to my life so far, I was always a creative kid but also very troubled and I couldn't have grown up further away from that world. I had taken a real alternative route to get to where I was so far and photography for me was border line working and not working out at the time, and the next thing I know my boy phones me up and asked me to come on this job
GA: You’re hugely film based, what's your affinity with film?
Dan: Sometimes I feel like digital is cheating - I feel like we have gone too far to digitize everything we do now, my plan has just always been to go backwards I want to drive an even older car and shoot on an even older camera listen to old music and try to maintain a classic feeling - to me film feels more honest, it can't be manipulated as much and for me that's what photography has always been about and that's telling the truth.
GA: What was the first camera and photo you took that made you want to get into photography?
Dan: Man, I think it was one of those Polaroid joints or a point and shoot Olympus or something, it was probably stolen, there were a lot of cameras that came thru that year and I had probably traded some kid for it that nicked it at a house party - I wasn't more than 16/17 years old and I would just document my life at the time. I really lived between my own eyes and ears only, so to me what I saw my world that I had created interested me the most. I documented the characters in my life, the neighborhood, my dogs - I was breeding blue nose pit-bulls off brooks, the old school cars we drove, it was just all just for fun and I miss that and still miss that - just taking photos for no reason. If you would have told me than years later that I would be doing it as a profession I would have never believed you. It never crossed my mind as even a possibility. I put the camera down for about 4 of 5 years before I picked it up again.
GA: Best photo you’ve ever taken?
Dan: Not sure I'll just say that I know I haven't taken it yet. I do have a series I've been working on and I think some of those photos are some of the stronger of my photos that I have taken in my life but for now I'm sitting on them and continuing to learn and get better.
GA: Favorite person or people to photograph?
Dan: It's always the kids; they're the most honest. Real people in general are the best. It's beautiful to be simple.
GA: As a photographer how do you want people to see your work?
Dan: In coffee table books, hanging on walls, even billboards are good. Nahhhh I hope someone finds all my work one day way later after I'm gone and appreciates it. The photos I took for my self that I never really showed.