In conversation with Alice Bradshaw.

1. How do you define the subject of your photographs?

I like to use found objects and images in my photographs as a kind of sculptural readymade. I am fascinated by what people leave behind either intentionally or unintentionally and I’m constantly on the watch for what we leave in our collective wake, when I am out and about with my camera I'm alert to all sorts of different visual possibilities. To date I have exhibited the resulting images as both individual photographs and as a billboard-sized grid.

2. What is the importance of the shoes' discarded* status in your work?

I suppose if they weren't discarded I wouldn't be interested. I'm not interested in shoes per se. Initially I'm interested in their formal qualities, as a lost or abandoned shoe can be quite visually jarring, especially on the beach. However the way in which I choose to photograph the shoes leads on from that initial interest in the formal to a more open ended interpretation; this can include a projected narrative quality, even if that is purely imaginary. Once printed the works can be read as a visual metonym in which the shoes stand for something else. This has led to some fascinating conversations with people who have read all sorts of meanings into the work.

3. Where do find the shoes and do you actively search for them?

I don't actively search for them, but I am in the habit of carrying a camera most of the time in my pocket and I suppose I like to look intently at the world around me as, in short, I'm fascinated by it, from the frenetic pace of Fifth Avenue to the back alleyways of Margate. This looking or observation involves walking and cycling around a given landscape and taking a large number of photographs which in time become coherent typologies or archives. This has led me to amass a vast collection of images that can be catalogued into various categories. These include shoes, clothing, food, white goods and even discarded sex toys. My photographic collection of abandoned objects and shoes has largely been made on the North Kent coast. However, Greece, New York and Croatia also feature as locations in the collection.

4. You photograph the shoes in situ where you find them – why is this important to you rather than, say, taking them to a studio to photograph?

For me I'm interested in their surroundings as well and how the shoes have come to be there. The natural landscape appears throughout my work as a setting for the manmade detritus strewn across our beaches and streets. Sometimes this detritus itself can be strangely beautiful or seductive, and it is this duality which, I hope, gives my work its distinctive charge. However it's also a case of simple economics. I don't currently have access to a studio so the work I do remains in situ and for the most part on a hard drive. What I do have access to is a cheap digital camera and the landscape, be that urban, coastal or countryside. I can make art using those elements.

5. What happens to the shoes afterwards?

I leave them, although some friends who make sculptures really think I should collect them, and work with them in a metaphysical way. I might do that in the future.

17 Questions for Daniel 

1. How did you get into photography?

When I was a child I had a plastic 110 format film camera which was either a Christmas present or bought with money from a paper round. I remember buying those flash cubes you fitted to the top of the camera in packs of six from Dixons in Margate High Street. Looking back I wish I had taken more.

2. Can you talk about your film making?

It's something i would love to return to one day, i am very excited about the possibilities of moving image to tell stories or for personal expression. 

3. What compels you to capture pictures daily?

I love looking at the world around me, so much excites me visually, I am compelled to try and record it using photography, on the one hand as a form of artistic expression and on the other, to offer comment on what I see.

4. What camera / film do you prefer to use?

I like to work with whatever I can use, digital or film, medium format or 35 mm. In the past I have used cheap disposable waterproof cameras. I got a lot of pleasure out of using those as they are cheap to use and the results can be very surprising. 

5.How many frames do you shoot per scene?

It can vary enormously, sometimes just one shot due to the surrounding circumstances: I may be in a hurry and it will be literally a case of point and shoot or if i get engrossed in a subject, then maybe i will shoot five or six, but when i come to review those it's usually the first one I have taken that I am most happy with.

6. Can you discuss the techniques you use?

I am interested in playing with available natural light, and simple use of flash. I keep my eyes open and am constantly looking for the next shot which will fit into one of my projects. I like to use the found objects as sculptural readymades. The duality of beautiful form and shape coupled with the environmental damage these things are doing is both seductive and repellent. 

7. How do you edit your work?

I like to work on different projects and I tend to amass large numbers of images. When I am reviewing several images from the same shoot to decide which one stays in the project, it often comes down to an instant gut feeling which is based on the assessment of composition, tone and colour. Then you also end up with a file of rejected work which in itself is interesting. 

8. Can you talk about your inspiration as an artist?

I am excited and driven by making art and that excitement can be addictive. It's a compulsion to create things, it can be a continuous process of visual or artistic problem solving, better to create than destroy?

9. What currently excites you about art, film and photography?

I was lucky to see Phantoms of Nabua, a film installation by Apichatpong Weerasethakul in the BFI Gallery recently, I thought that was magic.

10. What have you learnt this last decade as an artist / photographer / film maker?

Stick to your guns, believe in what you do, don't try and be fashionable, and make sure you're happy creating whatever you create. 

11. Can you comment on the Margate scene?

I have been watching it change all my life: my first job was working on the beach when i left school in the 1980s. It's certainly true there are more artists and people in the creative industries moving to Thanet to set up and work, which is a good thing. However, I'm just as excited by places like Dave's Burger Bar and the Joke Shop as I am by the new galleries.

12. What kind of impact do you hope to have with your work?

When I am making my own work I am not really thinking about impact in terms of what an audience might think. With personal work I am fulfilling and satisfying my own artistic desires. However, when I have exhibited in the past, this has led to some fascinating conversations with the audience who see things or gain insights which i didn't intend, that's very rewarding indeed. 

13. Can you discuss the Turner Contemporary Project Space?

I was recently lucky enough to have a tour of the building site, I think it's a tremendously exciting project and I am looking forward to seeing it completed. 

14. What are your thoughts on detritus?

I am fascinated by what people leave behind either intentionally or unintentionally, I watch out for what we leave in our wake...

15. Can you talk about group shows and collaborations?

I really like collaborating as it's a good way to free up your personal practice and can lead you in new creative directions. the archival nature of my practice can be a bit obsessive so every now and then it's good to break out from that and do something different. 

16. Are there any myths about art making you can dispel?

I'm not sure what those myths are, I just keep my eyes open and get lucky, but it's a luck that's earned.

17. What do you think of the photo-book as a medium?

I'm always keeping an eye out in charity shops for photo books, they tend to be very expensive to buy new so when you come across a good one you know you're winning.