Being a photographer for over 20 years, Dan Sandoval says he has completed a lot of exciting yet unpredictable assignments. Originally from the United States, he left life in California as a studio photographer to pursue a career in travel. He has been to every continent except Australia and visited more than 40 countries. He has been based in China since 2008 and has travelled the country extensively, exploring its culture and sharing his experience and expertise through workshops and talks. He also conducts photography lectures for the Canon Caravan Program in China. With that, Sandoval is no stranger to large audiences, making this edition of When I Grow Up suited to The British School of Beijing, Shunyi, which sent more than 150 students to listen to his latest journey between the tips of South America and Antarctica! We feature 10 students who wanted to know more about Sandoval and his career in general. If you have your own questions, Sandoval can be reached by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lena, 11, Germany
How many tries does it take to get a perfect shot?
When you get better and better, it takes less and less tries. In the beginning, I used to take a lot of photos, but now it’s fewer and fewer. Practice makes perfect. But getting the perfect photo, it’s impossible to say. When you’re at the right light and the right time,the photos can be wonderful.
Talia, 11, US
What inspired you to be a photographer?
Honestly, when I was young I always thought I would go into astrophysics. I really love astronomy; I love the science of light. And that’s what actually inspired me to be a photographer and that’s the ability you have as a photographer to manipulate light. It’s really a very interesting thing to be able to capture. Most people take photos as they see them. But one of the things that I tell most people about difference between people who like photos and the photographer is that the photographer makes a photo while people who like photos take pictures. So when you make a photo, you have to consider all of these things and make it.
Andreas, 11, Australia
Have you ever encountered with any of the animals that were in Antarctica? Did any of them go near you?
Yes absolutely. The elephant seals were literally crawling up on your leg. I was lying on my belly to take a photo, waiting for some penguins to walk by, and suddenly there’s something pecking the back of my leg! It scared me quite a bit! It was a big, big albatross that was probably checking if I was dead or not. I was chased by some birds as well!
Daniel, 12, England
Do you like taking selfies?
You know actually, one of the things about being the photographer is that I’m the camera. So I have very few photos of myself. The ones [with me]are usually taken by people whom I’ve been travelling with. I very rarely take selfies. The only times I take selfies are when I’m with a friend.
Laura, 12, South Korea
Isn’t it dangerous to take photos of wildlife, like an aggressive animal, or taking photos from a cliff?
Absolutely. There’s a lot of aspects of the job that are sometimes dangerous. When taking photos of wildlife, animals can really be unpredictable. There was a time that I was hanging from a rope with other rock climbers and that was a scary thing for me. But best thing to do is try to remain as safe as possible.
OT, 11, South Africa
Have you been to the Arctic?
I haven’t been. That’s probably my goal for myself in the next two years, to travel to the Northwest Passage in the Arctic.
Tom, 11, Germany
How long have you been a photographer?
I’m 32 years old, now. I started doing photography, and it has been my personal job, since I was 18 years old.
Maria, 12, Russia
How long does it take to get the right angle for a photo?
That’s a very difficult question! The problem is – it can take anywhere from a few moments to days. There were times when I had been looking for just the right angle and I had completely to get there [to the subject]. There were other times when I get to a place and the lighting’s perfect and everything just lines up. It takes you just as long as it takes to pull out the camera and take a photo. And that’s the fun part of it – the unpredictability. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s hard.
Carla, 12, Germany
When do you prefer to take a picture? During daytime or nighttime or sunset??
Here’s a very easy answer to that; it’s whenever the light is best. Photography is all about light. It’s about planning the best light and the best subject. The best time is whenever the lighting looks best, sometimes that’s sunset, sometimes that’s morning, generally evening, except middle of the day, are good times.
Jay, 12, South Korea
Sometimes when you try to take a photo and you’re not always on [the right]time, is it tiring to wait for the [right]time?
Good question. It’s one of those things that is tiring but it makes it worth it when you take that photo. So sometimes I’m sitting in the cold. There was one time when I was in Xinjiang to take photos of horse riders at sunset. Everyone [other photographers]had gone back to the buses. But I was sitting there, just all these mosquitoes were coming out, and I was just being eaten alive by mosquitoes! But finally the horse riders started coming down and everyone’s just sitting on the bus, comfortable and warm. But it’s pretty miserable given the long wait but I have to work. So when I looked at the final photo, I was super happy with it. I’m very glad that I waited. The payoff was really worth it.
All photos by Dave’s Studio
This article originally appeared on p. 36-37 of beijingkids March Issue. Download a copy here.