Dan Marker-Moore flies.
Check his Instagram account (@danorst) for proof. He pretty much skies over every city he visits and takes out an iPhone like, “That looks good.” He shoots an incredible city skyline or a beautiful landscape and then lands on the ground to edit the images for his followers. Then, he does it again. And again. And again.
When he isn’t flying, he’s hiking to great heights. One day, I saw him drive through the blur of white fog up a winding road towards Mount Wilson, a short drive from Los Angeles, California. We hiked through a tunnel, a rocky, dusty road and saw the fog below us as Moore set up his tripods. It was like his backyard, the way he knew where to turn and where to shoot.
Through this effort, Moore has documented the nearly forgotten art of #payphoneography. Though many payphones are disappearing from existance, Moore has found a way to keep them alive through photography, shooting the payphones he finds, whether they are still working or simply a payphone carcass of what used to be. The #payphoneography tag has also inspired others to document the relics of the streets and the tag has taken off with close to 8,000 images on Instagram.
Through @payphones or @danorst, Moore has been able to document his life and art with great dexterity. On or off his iPhone, he’s crafted work that inspires the viewer to find the beauty in the ordinary and the magnificence of exploring the unknown. Whether he is flying, hiking or running around a concrete jungle, Moore is a photographer whose talent soars.
A. Everyone seems to have either a defining moment or a series of minor moments where they fell in love with their art form. What was this process like for you? When did you fall in love with photography?
D. Instagram. I took photos before Instagram, but I didn’t have a place to share my photos. With Instagram I was able to share new photos everyday with people. I got so wrapped up in it I made a second account, @payphones, so I could share even more photos. It was that daily schedule of publishing photos that really taught me a lot about photography and gave me a lot of hours of practice behind the lens.
A. How about mobile photography? When did you realize this was going to be something you focused on?
D. Mobile photography is awesome! It’s astonishing how advanced these pocket cameras are, and with apps the possibilities are endless. Having a camera in your phone gives you constant access to photo opportunities… and for the first year or so on Instagram I took all of my photos with my iPhone. This January I got the Olympus EM5, a micro 4/3 camera, that is much like a DSLR but much more compact like a rangefinder. This camera is like an iphone on steroids, it has super powers like the ability to see in the dark and optically zoom across town. It lets me take the photos not possible on an iPhone. I feel there is no reason to limit yourself to taking photos on your phone. Most of my newer photos on IG are taken with the EM5.
A. You’ve done a great job of using the filming feature on Instagram. How do you think this feature adds to the app in general?
D. Video is fun. It opens up another dimension to the visual experience of IG. You are limited to the iPhone camera and IG’s software but you can make the most of it by shooting only in excellent light, like golden hour. I’ve had fun playing around with time-lapse video on IG. I’ve recently purchased a kitchen timer to help me time out intervals.
A. You also alternate between the mobile photography and add a different camera to your feed. But this is sill instant. Can you explain to readers how you use an SD card to make it instant?
D. I have the Eye-fi SD memory card which has it’s own ad-hoc wifi network that syncs your photos from your camera with your phone. All the newer cameras have this built in and some of the newer cameras have apps and let you run Instagram right in your camera.
A. Do you edit those images on your phone as well?
D. When I post a photo on the spot I’ll do some adjustments on my phone. Usually PhotoForge2 and Afterlight. The rest of my photos get sorted and edited in Lightroom on the computer, I also store my archives of iPhone photos here. You definitely have access to another level of control working with a computer.
A. As a part of the Los Angeles community of Instagram users, what are three of your favorite Los Angeles locations?
D. I take a ton of pictures of the L.A. skyline, so I’m always looking for new perspectives, but time after time I return to some classic spots. The Hollywood hills has many vantages, one of the best being the Bowl Overlook. From the top at night you see the US101 traffic as a river of light flowing right into downtown. The bridges downtown are another great view. On the East side of the Whittier bridge there is a low fence with a hill on the other side. From that hill in the Summer you can watch the Sun set right behind downtown. Warning this area can get sketchy. City Hall has the best view of downtown, it’s open to the public, just register with security and ask to visit the Tom Bradley room. At the top you find an amazing 360 view of LA.
A. You’ve done some traveling as well. What have been your favorite places to photograph around the world?
D. Favorite is a tough call. One time I rode on a helicopter with my girlfriend (@fattymcfattersonmcgee) into the Grand Canyon at sunrise and landed for breakfast…that was pretty fun.
A. How has photography altered your life?
D. I definitely catch a lot more sunsets, climb more mountains, and fly around more cities than before.
A. Your Moonrise Time Slice got a lot of attention. How did that project come to fruition?
D. Lately I’ve found myself tracking the moon and following its path. I’ve taken several time-lapses of the moon rising and setting. This particular rise I managed to line up with downtown and have the moon come from behind the skyline as an orange pumpkin and rise up through light clouds morphing into a glowing white ball. I posted a video of this on my site HERE along with a still collage and a looping animated gif. That was my most popular blog post to date with 150k+ re-blogs including the Huffington Post and Gizmodo.
A. Where did you shoot that from?
D. I shot that from the roof of a building I was working at in Fairfax village.
A. What apps do you consider to be the golden, most important apps for mobile photographers to use? Why?
D. My go to app is Sun Surveyor. This app lets me use a map or 3D compass to tack the sun or moon at any time or date. It’s real helpful to plan where you want to be and when. A lot of my moon rise / sun set photos would have been a lot tougher with out it.