For Daniel de La Fé, his photographs represent more than just a pretty landscape or a clean editing job. His photographs remind him of his best memories.
As de Le Fé fondly looks through his portfolio of pictures, he remembers a quirky man putting his bunny slippers into a mountain lake on a backpacking trip and taking pictures during a 12-mile hike despite unbearable mosquitos that forced him to synch his hood up all the way. He remembers sleeping in all day during a camping trip and finally getting up to take a picture of raindrops sitting on a leaf and traveling across the country specifically to take a picture of a scenic lake but skipping stones for hours beforehand.
“That whole day is that photo,” said the senior at Colorado State University studying sociology. “It’s so much fun.”
De La Fé specializes in nature photography. He often goes camping with friends while he takes his pictures. For him, those good memories are “frozen in time” through his photography, even if it is the worst photo he has ever taken, he said.
De La Fé first got into photography when his dad let him borrow his camera during his senior year of high school, eventually giving him that camera when he began his freshmen year of college. At first, he used photography as a way to document his life.
“I like going places,” de La Fé said. “I don’t keep any journals or anything. So, I see things and I can go back to that memory with pictures.”
After buying a new camera along with new lenses, de La Fé soon realized that his hobby was an expensive one. He then branched out to other forms of photography.
“I like doing nature photography the most, but people make me money,” de La Fé said.
De La Fé is a part of the Khi Alpha Christian Ministry called Outpost and is in the Air Force ROTC at CSU. According to him, a lot of his friends from these groups get engaged.
“A lot of my friends get engaged, so I’m like well if you don’t wanna pay a lot of money and I need some new camera gear, let’s see what we can do,” de La Fé said.
De La Fé shoots engagement photos for friends and charges two-thirds of what other photographers charge, he said.
“If people want photos but can’t afford it, I work with them to get a price they can afford,” de La Fé said.
Carter Stoudt and his fiancé knew de La Fé from their Outpost Christian group. They hired de La Fé to take their engagement photos.
“We really like the photos he had done for our friends so we decided to use his,” Stoudt said. “We wanted to support our friend and his photography hobby.”
De La Fé took their photos on CSU’s campus.
“It was really easy because we both were comfortable around him,” Stoudt said.
Although de La Fé’s focus is on landscape photography, he likes interacting with people, he said.
“I love engagements,” de La Fé said. “Engagements are awesome. The more the people love each other, the better they turn out.”
Blue Willis is a friend of de La Fé’s and gets photography help from him.
“I was interested, and I came to him when I wanted to buy a camera,” said the CSU student majoring in human development and family studies with a minor in Spanish.
As they grew to be closer friends, they would go on photography trips when de La Fé would give him instructions.
“He’s awesome,” Willis said. “One of the coolest people I think I have met in my life, just super energetic and always loves. Every time you see him, he’s got a smile on his face. He might be the only person I’ve known who likes to hug people more than I do. As a photographer, he’s awesome there too. I look at his photos a lot for inspiration.”
Willis is most inspired by de La Fé’s landscape photography.
“His landscape photos are awesome,” Willis said. “I’d say that’s where he’s helped me with the most.”
During his career, de La Fé has presented is work in the Fort Collins community. He had a three-month exhibit at Big Al’s. He takes pictures for Skye Luxe Clothing, Air BnB and has worked with the “Fashion Report” magazine. He has also done private graduation photos, family shoots and photos at wedding rehearsal dinners.
According to de La Fé, he will have his dream job after he graduates. He has been selected to be a public affairs officer in the Air Force. For the job, he will be able to use photography and videography to make commercials for the Air Force.
“I think he’s going to be really good at his job,” Willis said.
De La Fé said he believes that photography is special because he can truly capture a unique moment.
“You’re never ever going to see a shot that you took every day,” de La Fé said. “It’s never going to be the same. 6:15 on July 12 will never look like that again. My goal is to capture and present it the best way that I can.”
For de La Fé, photography is what makes him happy, he said. He would not mind doing it for the rest of his life.
“Photography is what makes me forget to eat, sleep and poop,” de La Fé said. “I can do this forever. You can always find something cool to take a picture of. You can always put a creative twist on something.”
De la Fé sells his landscape pictures printed on glass, canvases, aluminum or steel. His photography can be found on his photography business’ Facebook page.
Collegian Arts and Culture Editor Zoe Jennings can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @zoe_jennings4.