Daniel J. Armstrong

Hey, I’m Daniel and I’m a solo-traveling photographer and ‘digital nomad’ from the U.K. but currently based in Asia.

When not working, I spend my time solo hiking, attempting to talk to strangers in foreign languages (I speak decent Japanese and passable French), and taking lots of photos of the ordinary yet poetic moments in our world that strike my curiosity.

I’ve been playing with photo and video since I was around 6 or 7 years old, but it wasn’t until I turned 21 and started traveling that I really fell in love with candid photography.

Ohrid, Macedonia

I’ve always had a curiosity for the different ways people live around the world. It’s the small details that really get me – like how the Japanese still bow to greet, thank and apologise to people, even if they’re on the opposite side of the street… Or how in Albania it’s still common to get around using donkeys. Or how kids in northern Finland use skis to get to school in the winter and elderly people go to the shops on stand-up sledges. I could talk about this stuff all day long, and I believe this curiosity is often present in my photography.

警察 (police) in Tokyo, Japan

The other curiosity captured in my images is probably my somewhat romantic view of the world and my love for the ordinary. I often become interested in scenes that others likely couldn’t care less about. I watched American Beauty for the first time in 2020 and really related to the guy who filmed and fascinated over the plastic bag in the wind and other mundane things. This is kind of how see my own perspective of the world – I believe there are beautiful scenes everywhere we look. It just depends on the viewer and their interpretation.

Ohrid, Macedonia

But the gold standard of beautiful scenes for me is when time spent in the field pays off and the elements of a moving picture come together naturally. A woman and her child walk into an idyllic composition with soft lighting. They stand in the right spot, hold hands, and become the best subject you could ask for. Now you can take a picture that feels more like a painting than a photograph and elicits unforgettable emotion – if not from the viewer, then from yourself. These are the moments that make photography worthwhile for me.

Equipment minimalism: the less, the better

I’ll be honest – I’m not a gear person, and I don’t like talking about it much. I don’t like to think that equipment is that important as long as it doesn’t significantly inhibit you. I much prefer thinking and talking about the art and philosophy of photography.

However, the one thing I would say is key about my equipment is its size, or lack of it. I use a small Fujifilm X-Pro2 and compact 50mm prime lens. I’d like to go even smaller soon and try the X100V (which doesn’t even have interchangeable lenses).

At one point I used a lot more equipment – full frame cameras, bulky zoom lenses, etc., but I downsized for the sake of convenience, portablility and style. I much prefer the agility and aesthetic of being able to walk outside without a heavy backpack and just a small, stylish piece of metal that’s about the size of my hand.

Photographing Venice without any tourists

Since leaving home in 2018, I’ve spent most of my time in Asia. But I also really love Europe. One of my favourite locations in Europe has to be Venice. 

A quiet Venice during the pandemic

In fact, I’d put my one-month stay in Venice during the thick of the 2020 pandemic up there with my most memorable experiences. I remember being in Venice in 2019 and thinking “wow, being able to go back in time and see this place without all the tourists and just the locals living ordinary lives would be surreal”. In 2020, I was lucky enough to actually experience that. I wonder if we’ll ever have that opportunity again. Being able to see and photograph Venice as a regular town rather than one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world is something I’ll never forget.

18 months in Thailand

My impressions of Thailand before arriving and after leaving are near polar opposites. I thought I’d have fun, but I didn’t anticipate it making as warm an impact on me as it did. I now spend most of my time going back and forth between Thailand and other Asian countries and consider it my second home. 

The people, the food, the scenery. The diversity of culture and landscapes between north and south. I love Thailand and the lifelong memories I’ve made there.

Koh Larn, Thailand

And as a photographer, there’s little else I could ask for. People are so friendly that I feel so comfortable taking photos in the streets. Most people seem to love having their photo taken. As for environments, Thailand offers a bit of everything. From the sprawling megacity that is Krung Thep (Bangkok) to the atmospheric hills and villages of the north and tropical islands of the south.

Other highlights

Some of the other locations I’ve enjoyed the most as both a photographer and ‘digital nomad’ include:

  • Taiwan
  • Japan
  • Bintan, Indonesia
  • Cornwall, England
  • Iceland
  • Ohrid, Macedonia
  • Anywhere in the Alps

You can see more of my photos on my website or Instagram profile.

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