Daniel Prakopcyk has found a way to combine two passions in his life: photography and music. After having assisted a well-respected name in the photography world like Danny Clinch and recently going on tour with John Mayer, today, we talk to him about his career journey and main takeaways from it.
Daniel Prakopcyk is a New Jersey native photographer currently based in Los Angeles. His love for photography runs deeply, especially in the genre of music. From years of experience in the field, Daniel’s track record is impressive. His work has been featured in GQ, Playboy, Complex, Rolling Stone, and Spin shot. He has also worked with artists such as G-Eazy, John Mayer, Maggie Rogers, and many others, and collaborated with big brands like Spotify, Daniel Wellington, KFC, and Leica.
In this interview, we talk about his career and the experience of going on tour as a photographer.
Tell us about yourself. Who is Daniel Prakopcyk?
I am a photographer based in Los Angeles. A New Jersey native with a background in music photography.
How did photography come into your life?
I first started shooting in high school as more of a hobby and in class. When I went to college I decided on a major in graphic design and business, and at the time I was also shooting a little bit more. But it was in my sophomore year that I really started getting into it. I watched this documentary directed by Danny Clinch and that made me go online and look at his work. From that moment on, I decided I wanted to do what he did.
Have you always wanted to work in music photography? How did you get into it?
I have always been a music historian. I don’t have musical beat in my body but I enjoy the stories behind bands, musicians and everything in between. I love reading musician biographies – one of my favorites is the Keith Richards book. The stories they share are like no other and they always intrigued me. Growing up, I remember sitting in the back of my dad’s car listening to mostly Bruce Springsteen – in the typical New Jersey fashion – but also to a wide range of music that went from Dean Martin to Led Zeppelin. There was always something I never heard before and that kept me interested.
What was it like to train with Danny Clinch?
I can’t say enough good things about Danny. I truly wouldn’t be in the position I am without him. When I went to intern at his studio, I showed up in a full suit to the interview. Needless to say, I stuck out and his studio manager gave me a shot.
I wanted to be there and wouldn’t leave. I did anything they asked me: logged scenes for a documentary, scanned negatives, help with his book. Anything to learn from him I wanted to do. I learned how to read light, how to talk to talent, how to handle managers, but most importantly how to be in the moment.
And since then, how would you describe your journey towards becoming a full-time professional photographer?
I’ve only really been on my own for less than 2 years. I was living in NYC and doing long distance to LA with my now wife. After a few long talks, I decided to move to LA and start my career. Once I moved I actually immediately went on tour. When I came back, I decided to look for a studio and started to shoot there as much as I possibly can. The transition from being an assistant to a full-time photographer, and on top of that moving to the other side of the country, is definitely challenging but I can’t complain too much!
You work with big names in the music industry and last year you were on tour with John Mayer across America and Europe. How did you gather such an interesting collection of clients?
Most of this was really networking. While shooting shows you are emailing with managers, PR people, and agents. I started by shooting smaller shows and those people are usually part of a bigger company or have multiple artists. Staying in touch and following up is the just start. After that, it snowballs.
Is going on tour still common for photographers in the music scene? How did the opportunity emerge?
I think nowadays it does. Artists want to have content every day because of social media. When I was first working with Danny I don’t think there were that many. He would go on tour with some bands for a few weeks but that was it. Now it seems a lot more common.
What is the preparation required to go on the road as a photographer?
So John Mayer’s tour was the first one that I did and I had ZERO idea on how to prepare. I definitely brought way too much stuff and of course, the crew on the tour made fun of me because of it. Now I know it’s traveling with only the essentials, and when it comes to gear, bringing only the stuff that really I need. I shoot with a lot of different cameras and, on the first run, I made the mistake of bringing all my cameras. It’s not fun when you are trying to rush out of a venue late at night.
How does it actually work? Where do you sleep, where do you eat, and to what extent is your presence required?
I was on the crew bus with most of the backline guys, which I loved. We slept on the bus and ate at the venues. They had been on so many tours… they really showed me the ropes.
I heard loads of road stories and had a blast. I wasn’t with John ALL the time, I gave him space since the tour was so long.
How do you establish your workflow in order to be able to capture the best moments from artists while still having enough time to edit and work on your pictures?
When I’m shooting most of the time I know when I got “the” shot from the night and I mark it on the camera immediately. When I would import, I would look around the photos I marked and most likely those would be the best ones. I would then edit them and send them to John that night for him to post. We got it down to a science and I would send him about 40 images a night.
Is there a less exciting part about going on tour?
I would have to say sometimes the 3 in a row shows were not so fun. Only because you almost forgot what city you were in.
What was the most memorable moment for you?
I think the first week of the tour. It was exciting to be there and be surrounded by such interesting people.
What are your plans for the future?
Working towards shooting more portraiture work. I have a studio in downtown LA where I have been shooting. I want to try to break into the editorial world but also stay in music as much as I possibly can.
To see more of Daniel’s portfolio visit his website or have a look at his