These Environmental Portraits Put the Emphasis on Artist Studios

In this portrait project by Danny Santos II, we get to see how looking beyond our own creative fields can give us inspiration for photography projects.

At its core, the goal of portrait photography is to tell us something about the subject, their personality, their passions, and even a sense of mystery in their gaze. A portrait project of Singapore-based Danny Santos II gives us all of those and a little extra: we also get a glimpse of the creative spaces where his artist subjects make their masterpieces. We’ve reminded our fellow photographers not so long ago about the importance of having other hobbies and exploring other interests outside of photography; this series could give you an idea about which one to pick up!

According to Santos, he has always been intrigued by the creative spaces that enable artists to practice their craft and make great art. “I’ve always been intrigued with seeing different artists’ creative spaces and getting to meet and ask different artists their way of working. I guess this was also my way of getting inspiration and tips on doing good art.”

Many portrait photographers would typically do a location scout ahead of the shoot — or a recce — to pick out the best spots to shoot and map out details like composition and lighting. Santos wasn’t able to do one, but he and his team were grateful to the artists for letting them come to their private workspaces and accommodate the shoot.

“Each artist was a challenge as we would go to their studio without a recce, determine the composition and lighting, and most of the time move furniture around for the sake of the shot and positioning the lights. We were very lucky as all the artists were very accommodating. It was an amazing experience as they welcomed us into their private workspace. Each shoot was a chance to learn something new.”

The result is a straightforward yet inspiring portrait project called The Artist’s Studio — a selection of portraits that put the spotlight not only on the artists themselves (14 all in all), but also their chosen profession and their tools of the trade. Painter, calligrapher, graphic artist, illustrator, tattoo artist, chef, sculptor, leather crafter — just to name some. It’s certainly a fascinating glimpse into the spaces where the magic and beauty of art begin.

Check out Danny Santos II’s website and Behance portfolio to see more of his personal and commercial photography projects.


Photos by Danny Santos II. Used with Creative Commons permission.