Photographer Dan Monick’s Untame Life in 12 Shots

Tall, thin, chill, Minneapolis-born, East Coast-educated, Los Angeles-based Dan Monick is a professional photographer by default. Commissions have come from PaperSpinSwindle, ESPN, DwellXXLOutRolling StoneFoamArkitip, and Fortune. Monick’s shot ads for Dell, PACSUN, Stussy, Target, Virgin Mobile. He’s shot celebrities, such as Jamie Foxx. He’s shot wildlife, such as the coyotes indigenous to his L.A. neighborhood.

This introduction only scratches the Dan Monick surface: Go here for a sense of the depths.

The Skeeve: In what ways is photographing wild animals different and the same as photographing wild people?

Dan Monick: Same: Its kind of a cagey affair of figuring out each other’s ultimate intentions. With animals, like coyotes and raccoons, it’s kind of that freeze and stare vibe. When they realize that it’s only a flash, and they won’t get hurt, sometimes the animals literally start posing. Same with people. Then one just takes a leak in front of you, and everybody realizes it’s all not that big of a deal. The picture is awesome and everyone lived. The difference? I’m not fearful of getting rabies from a person. Well, most people. 

The Skeeve: While you’re photographing people in an extended shoot, do you end up liking them more or less, and what does that depend on?

Dan Monick: You know right off the bat. Now that I think of it, I’ve never gone from being happy about a shoot to unhappy. Usually it’s consistent with the initial feeling (good or bad), or it goes from unhappy to happy. It basically depends on everyone eventually relaxing and realizing that the more fun we have, the better the photos will be. It’s a super abstract activity to begin with; so it makes sense that the vibe starts out weird. I’m not a real big planner; so people can get nervous (or people’s people) when I say we are just going to hang out and take photos. But once we start going, and the vibe is right, it’s always a blast. 

The Skeeve: Why photography?

Dan Monick: Cause I got rejected from a writing class for writing a pornographic story, and got accepted into Photo 1 on the same day. This whole thing also involved lots of booze, a pseudo intellectual guy named Bear, a key necklace, Sebadoh’s third show, Hadley, Massachusetts, and Georges Bataille

The Skeeve: Are you based in Los Angeles by default or by choice? How come?

Dan Monick: By choice. I’m from Minnesota and was really over winter. Also, it seemed everyone I knew hated Los Angeles; so moving there seemed like a good idea at the time (2001).

The Skeeve: What’s the story on you and zines?

Dan Monick: Zines to me were the social media of my childhood. Quick thoughts and conversations about specific topics. Very imperfect, but got the point across in a no-fuss manner. I release zines on my imprint—Cash Machine—that are all of the same format: 20 pages 8.5×11 staple bound. No computer printouts, everything cut and pasted or glued in. It sets limitations that free you from having to make too many choices. Liberation by restriction. Then it all gets melted down through the beauty of the copy machine. Perfectly imperfect. Details get lost and transformed, and no two sheets ever come out exactly alike. It’s like Polaroids: They were never meant to be mechanics of a final product, they were just supposed to help you get there, to create the blueprint. I’d like to bet on how many blueprints were a hell of a lot more beautiful than the physical buildings that got built. 

All photos copyright Dan Monick.

Allan MacDonell Administrator
Director of Skeeve Allan MacDonell is the author of ‘Prisoner of X’ and ‘Punk Elegies.’
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