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PFRE Idol For June: Daniel Milstein

June 2nd, 2009

Congratulations to Dan Milstein (flickr handle: Chrome Dome Dan), of NY just voted by PFRE readers and flickr group members as PFRE Idol for June! See this flickr thread for the detail voting results.

The following is Dan’s photographic background in his words:

Just a kid – a late 1971-built Nikon F in hand… No, it’s not the start of another Stephen King novella, but the start of my unplanned journey from little kid with a camera to a big kid making a living with a camera. Thinking back, it’s probably a good thing that I held that Nikon for only moments. It was only fair that my dad continued to use it until we bought him a new Nikon body in the late 1980’s. The years to come introduced me to the Brownie, Kodak Instamatic, a really silly Vivitar 110 that survived a trek through the desert, a pile of awful compact point and shoot “Toys,” and a wonderfully simple Nikon FG-20 SLR (used from 1984 to 1999.)

1999 – the digital year – While I still thought Kodak Ektar 100 was high tech, and Tri-X 400 was the ultimate mood film, Nikon released the Coolpix 950. A stunning 2.1MP with manual controls and both tele and wide angle lenses. Heck, it even had an optional fisheye that covered just over 180 degrees! I lost track of the FG-20 for a few years. Working for a global technology company, the Coolpix gave me everything I thought I wanted.

2001 – A dark year to enter the pro arena. That November, a tragic turn of events led to the gift of a Nikon D1X with loads of additional gear. The CF card inside the body had a few final landscape photos that I still keep on a drive today. I started shooting in Lower Manhattan that month. By January of 2002, I was taking assignments through personal contacts and connections. That year even included a wedding.

At the urging of friends, I picked up a Real Estate sales license in late 2002. You guessed it – I photographed my own listings. With professional equipment and an eye for pleasing candids, I got by for a few years with no sense of how to light a room, no appreciation for the true vertical nature of walls, and certainly no reason to leave real estate sales. Was it really worth leaving that behind to make a lifetime of snapshots into more than a way to save a few marketing dollars and capture memories of my daughters as they grew into fashion and gossip? Heck… of course!

After shooting a $6,000,000 home for a friend, I started a frantic search online for more information about how to properly photograph a mansion.

“A PFRE blog? REALLY?” I had to check it out.

A month with the likes of Jeremy Esland and Dale Charles throwing in advice on my images, and I was hooked. Jeremy even managed to suck me into the dark world of DxO and Viveza. Google ‘em!

Endless calls to agents, a couple of shots traded for the right to use the agent’s images as “Before” shots, and a couple months dogging a “Big RE Company Marketing Department” paid off. I had clients!

Pressed by a close friend, I am now shooting with a whole mess of gear that no longer fits in my car, and I’m tackling weddings, company events, more real estate than sunny days allow for, dance, sports, portraits, and even some product photography.

2009 – The passion that started with my father’s 1971 Nikon F is a living. While it’ll never join me on a property shoot, it’s next to me now as a reminder of why I do this. My father, my idol, passed me that camera and gave me a little nudge to learn to use it.

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2 Responses to “PFRE Idol For June: Daniel Milstein”

  • What a great story Dan!! Congrats on the award.
    My Dad started me off as a 5 yr old, so I can relate to what you have written..brings back wonderful memories.
    Keep the passion alive!!! 🙂

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