Seattle Photographer Daniel Berman | Seattle editorial photographer | (206) 387-3767

Everett helping homeless for Cityvision | Seattle editorial photographer

Got approached to do a cool shoot for my longtime client, Cityvision, last month, focusing on the innovative efforts of Everett to combat the issue of homelessness.






By opening new shelters and affordable housing, and stopping the revolving doors of the criminal justice system, Everett is finally doing something productive on the matter.


The magazine’s art director had coordinated access to do the shoot on top of the Wall Street Building in downtown Everett. In my naivety I thought, ok, we’ll get to the highest floor, pop out a roof hatch, and be shooting in no time.

12525697_10205778635976888_6287405650679162124_ophoto by matt mills mcknight

But when we got to the 10th floor, the PR person let us know we went on foot from there. We emerged on a sub level of the roof, surrounded by a 6-foot-tall parapet. I couldn’t understand why we would do the shoot there — you couldn’t see anything. Then he pointed to the ladder. Did I mention I hate heights?


My assistant, Matt Mills McKnight, and I worked out a plan to get the lighting gear up to the actual roof. We packed two heads into the beauty dish case, which I put onto my back. Matt carried my camera bag. Then we held on for dear life. The most impressive part though is that all three of our subjects were game to participate and climb too. What troupers! If nothing else, this job makes for some very interesting bar stories. Many thanks to City of Everett Lead Prosecutor Hil Kaman, Deputy City Attorney David Hall, and Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson.



2011 Portraits of the Year — Seattle editorial photographer

Hello folks,

I know it is a few days into 2012 but I wanted to share some of my favorite portraits from the past 12 months. Portraiture is something I really enjoy because it can be such an intimate experience — or, in contrast, something very fleeting. It’s a total dance photographers do with their subjects. We are trying to elucidate a story visually, and make a connection with people. We want that glimpse at soul. Sometimes it is a delicate thing to do — but I love it.
It’s always a thrill to set up my lights (or recognize great natural light and rock that instead!). You’re trying to turn an unknown environment into something storytelling.

I have been fortunate enough this year to work with some fantastic new clients, such as DataSphereCityvision Magazine, Financial Advisor Magazine, The U.S. Department of Energy and Northwest Leaf and Seattleite. My assignments represent a huge gamut of subject matter, but I love thinking on my feet and bringing my own photography style to whatever I shoot — that’s part of the wonderful challenge of working with clients.

And to that end, I wanted to share a little bit of the back story behind my favorite portraits this year:


DataSphere, a Bellevue-based internet advertising firm, hired me to make portraits for their website. The client wanted to showcase their fun, unique corporate culture, for recruiting and marketing purposes. Along with my faithful assistant Mark Malijan, I photographed more than a dozen setups in a day all across their expansive three-floor office. It was a rush but a lot of fun to take my style and apply it to the client’s needs. I don’t think I will ever get the chance to set up an employee shot like the guys at the arcade one again. It was such a blast and definitely stands out as a very memorable assignment, this year and in my career as well.


Cityvision Magazine

I have completed eight or nine assignments for Cityvision and it is just so rewarding to be working with them regularly. They run really interesting, informative pieces, that shine line on complicated issues in a relevant way. They do a great job, and my assignments have involved photographing politicians, mayors, and state senators, for stories discussing their governance work. It’s neat to meet people with power and try and make the same kind of connection I would with anyone else, to make a compelling portrait.

This was an interesting shoot because it all hinged on access to water — visually it would be tough to photograph a water story without it — but when I arrived, the fountain was turned off! A quick call from the Mayor’s PR staff to the control room staff for the arena helped get it turned on just in time. Remaining calm was key, and the mayor was a good sport about waiting for a bit to begin the shoot.

I also photographed more stories on water and on cities being inundated with public record’s requests.

Financial Advisor Magazine

My assignment was to photograph Saturna Capital’s Nick Kaiser for Financial Advisor Magazine. Saturna Capital has become renowned for their Amana Mutual Funds, which invests according to Islamamic law — and has done very well from their unassuming offices.

Nick Kaiser - Saturna Capital - Bellingham

Nick Kaiser of Saturna Capital poses for a portrait at their downtown Bellingham offices October 24, 2011. Photo by Daniel Berman/ for Financial Advisor Magazine

I worked with two Alien Bee 800s firing into a simple 40 inch umbrella and a bare 7″ reflector, plus some nice afternoon sunlight fill, to make most of the pictures.

Nick was really generous with his time and worked with me to make some pictures the client and I were happy with. More from this shoot in my recent post: Nick Kaiser for Financial Advisor Magazine.


I also did a shoot this year for Seattleite, an online cultura and lifestyle magazine that started in 2011. The assignment came courtesy a friend of mine, Erik Simkins, working as their photo editor at the time. My task was to photograph Jay Friedman for a story about his food lecture series, Sexy Food. He uses humor to make the connection between the things we eat and the stuff we enjoy. I wanted to make a portrait that captured that same fun quality. We shot inside of a beautiful old classroom on the University of Washington campus. No assistant for this one, like on most of my shoots, but atleast I got a workout dragging my lighting cases up three flights of stairs. No elevator. The new client was happy and I made some pictures I am happy with too, and that’s all you can ask for right?

I had an SB-800 firing into Photek Softlighter II up high and above him, with a bare sb800 firing for the rim-light in rear.

This is the one the mag ran online.

Personal Work

Sometimes the best assignments are the ones we take on for ourselves. It’s important to try out new ideas, test new techniques, and cover the events we want to cover — even if no one is footing the bill. Sometimes we are fortunate for a client to license personal work after the fact; but that’s not the goal. I do self-assignments to keep me sharp for when the phone rings. It keeps my portfolio current and lets me push new work out more than waiting for assignment work. It’s fulfilling and a big part of my personal goals for 2012.

The Emerald City Comicon was a self-assignment that ended up being licensed for But before that happened, I bought my own ticket, rolled all my lighting gear through the concourses and hoped to heck nobody was going to ask me to leave. I set up in an empty corner of a well-trafficked area of the main room, and looked around for interesting people to photograph. There was no shortage. In contrast to most portrait shoots where I have between 5 and 50 minutes to photograph someone, I spent only a minute or two with most of these Comiconners. I think it kept them authentic. The hours I put into the shoot paid off because it was a great day.

I also went down to Occupy Seattle and made some simple portraits of some of the protestors. I wish I would have been able to go back down, but other assignments and work kept me away. Even so, the windy, blustery evening I spent down there was informative and useful. I made some pictures I am happy with and can at least say I photographed a little bit of a very important movement, in my own backyard.

Northwest Leaf

I also did a lot of assignments for a Seattle-based publication called Northwest Leaf that deals with medical marijuana patients and the industry. It has been so eye-opening to have the access I do on these shoots, and it pays off, because I am making images that are not being made anywhere else. I am getting a grounds-eye view of this burgeoning movement, and I am excited to see where it takes me next year.

This was such a simple lighting setup. Just a single 45″ Photek Softlighter II off to my left, in close to the subject, on about 1/4 power. No fuss, no muss, just nice soft light that let more attention go to the stuff in his hands…

2011 has been a great learning experience. I really pushed myself, fell some times and grew stronger from those mistakes. It’s only a mistake if you can’t learn from it, I feel. I just want to keep driving towards my goals and keep learning and growing with my photo family, as my buddy Pittsburgh photographer Jared Wickerham said so aptly. 2011 has been a great year, a fulfilling year and probably one of my strongest years. You have to really want it in this business, and I think about that everyday. I am so blessed to be doing what I love and know the amazing people I do these days in Seattle and across the country. The kinship and community in photography is like none other!

Thanks for looking, and if you made it this far, thanks for joining me on this journey.


Water conservation for CITYVISION Magazine | Seattle editorial photographer

Olympia Mayor Doug Mah, Karla Fowler of LOTT, Erin Keith of Lacey Water Conservation and Tumwater city manager John Doan at LOTT's Regional Services Center in Olympia, WA. Photo by Daniel Berman for CITYVISION Magazine.

Olympia Mayor Doug Mah, Karla Fowler of LOTT, Erin Keith of Lacey Water Conservation and Tumwater city manager John Doan at LOTT's Regional Services Center in Olympia, WA. Photo by Daniel Berman for CITYVISION Magazine.

The business of governance and politics in Washington State is the domain of one of my favorite clients, CITYVISION Magazine. They investigate issues that sound like they could be boring on their face and make them approachable and relevant and a great read. Plus they run awesome illustrated covers. Lucky for me, when they call I usually get to photograph someone with a stake in something pretty cool. And shoot it my way.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson poses for a portrait in downtown Everett by the sculpture Trivergence by Ulrich Pakker August 11, 2011. Photo by Daniel Berman for CITYVISION Magazine.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson poses for a portrait in downtown Everett by the sculpture Trivergence by Ulrich Pakker August 11, 2011. Photo by Daniel Berman for CITYVISION Magazine.

During what became a very busy week, I got the opportunity in August to photograph Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson and Olympia Mayor Doug Mah. Their cities and regional partners have been doing great things with water conservation and the article tells it a lot better than I could. It’s a great read. And I am really happy to be able to show these now that the story has ran!

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson poses for a portrait in downtown Everett by the sculpture Trivergence by Ulrich Pakker August 11, 2011. Photo by Daniel Berman for CITYVISION Magazine.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson poses for a portrait in downtown Everett by the sculpture Trivergence by Ulrich Pakker August 11, 2011. Photo by Daniel Berman for CITYVISION Magazine.

Click more for the behind-the-scenes details on this interesting shoot! (more…)

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