Daniel Cheek is a photographic artist and educator currently living in Rock Springs, Wyoming. He received his Master of Fine Arts in Photography from the University of Arizona in 2013. Daniel’s work examines the ways people experience the world around us. Whether working in national parks or museums or his neighborhood, he is interested in looking for authentic experiences and the ways we directly interact with our surroundings. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums across the United States. His work was part of a three person, fifteen venue, touring exhibition funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Western Arts Federation. Daniel is currently teaching photography at Western Wyoming Community College.
Project Where We Go has been awarded with the 3rd Place Award in Outdoor category at Photogrvphy Grant 2016.
How did you get interested in photography? Do you have an educational artistic background?
I took photography in high school and haven’t wanted to do anything else since, the medium was uncannily natural to me. I studied photography at all levels of higher education and eventually received a Master’s Degree in Photography from the University of Arizona in 2013.
Where do you get your creative inspiration from? Is there any other artist or photographer who inspired your art?
My parents started a company the year I was born treating lakes for weeds and algae, this led to a fascination with looking at human’s interaction with nature. I spent much of my time outdoors and still prefer to make work outside. I have been lucky to have many mentors and have worked hard to contact the artist’s that have been influential to my work. I studied with Frank Gohlke in graduate school, and the work of Richard Misrach, Nicholas Nixon and Robert Adams have been especially inspiring and helpful.
How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph or series of photographs? Do you have any preferences regarding cameras and format?
I start most series organically and intuitively. I photograph the things that draw my interest in the landscape and later suss out what the underlying themes and ideas are in the studio. I have a lovely 8×10 inch Phillips Explorer that I am in love with, so this is my main camera, I will also use a 4×5 inch Speed Graphic and a 6×7 medium format Koni-Omega.
Tell our readers more about your award winning project „Where We Go”.
I had this idea that the majority of us have never experienced wild, pure, “nature.” While living in the San Francisco Bay Area I noticed that we all drove to nature parks to experience the out of doors. “Where We Go” examines this phenomenon, I’m looking at how, for the most of us, we travel to places to have an experience that is premeditated by someone else, and is mediated by interpretation from a very specific set of values.
Where is your photography going? What are you currently working on and do you have any photographic plans for future?
My recent work is re-examining that mediated experience. Living in Wyoming, where the entire state’s population is less than half of most major cities, the experience of the out of doors is very different than in heavily populated areas. The ideas of what the land signifies and what it’s particular use should be is heavily debated and very political in this state. I’m rethinking what does nature and wild mean and what does that mean for how we experience it.
What are your three favourite photography books?
Robert Adams: Cottonwoods, Edward Weston’s illustrated version of Leaves of Grass, and Carleton Watkins: Photographs 1861-1874.
What do you do besides photography?
I teach photography (is that enough of a distinction from practicing photography?) and raise a son.