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CANVAS OF LIFE The Photography of Daniel Pullen

It’s no secret there’s a high concentration of professional photographers on the Outer Banks. It’s our scenic environment and thriving wedding

industry that make for a perfect breeding ground. It can be hard to keep up with photographers on the beach when they’re springing up like wildflowers, but one that stands out is local artist and photographer Daniel Pullen.

From shredding his way through publication in Surfing Magazine to adorning the pages

of The Knot and Outer Banks Bride, Pullen has certainly made a name for himself as one of the more diverse image-makers on the beach. It’s difficult to define his specialty because he seems to conquer any genre he attempts, but his most exceptional work captures the true, local essence of the Outer Banks.

“My passion is making photographs,” Pullen says. “To me there’s more enjoyment in going out and shooting landscapes and surf photography, but there’s also that same feeling when you’re shooting a wedding and the couple is in love and it really comes across in the photos.”

Having lived in Buxton the entirety of his life, Pullen fits the mold for Hatteras native more than he does for professional photographer. He’s humble about his work and appreciative of his local upbringing. He got his start as an artist by painting surfboards for a local shop; canvases came next, followed by his first interests in photography. “I was seeing guys who were coming down here shooting photos, selling them, and making money. They were just coming down here two weeks out of the year; I live here year-round,” he says. “I would go and buy the Fuji

Photos by Daniel Pullen/ Story by Daniel Barlow

disposable cameras from Conner’s Market and just start shooting stuff around here.”

Beginning his career by selling work in local galleries, Pullen says it wasn’t until a friend encouraged him to break into the wedding business that he really began shooting full-time. “I was shooting, but always had to have side jobs,” he says. “It wasn’t until about two years ago I stopped doing everything else and just focused on photography.” And it seems putting everything else on the backburner was the right move for Pullen. Over the past two years his work has graced the cover of Outer Banks Bride, and won Best of Weddings in The Knot in 2011 and 2012.

Pullen enjoying some down time. Photo by Daniel Barlow Photography.

It’s sometimes easier to work with lighthouses, landscapes, and surf scenes than it is a bridal party, according to Pullen, but the images he’s truly passionate about are those that reflect the love of the newlyweds he’s working with. “I’m passionate about weddings, but I want the couple I’m photographing to be passionate,” he says. “It’s different when you show up with a couple and they’ve only been dating for like eight months. It’s still fresh and new and that comes across in the photo—there’s a huge difference in how they’re acting and reacting with each other.”

Capturing images of passionate newlyweds as well as awe-inspiring scenes


of the Outer Banks aren’t the only things that inspires Pullen. In fact, if that’s all he did, he would call his talents all but wasted. He feels a particular calling in his life to use his skills to help those in need. “There are so many people in this world that don’t have anything, that are hurting, or that have some sort of issue, or awful living conditions,” Pullen says. “My thought was I could go to these other countries and photograph these living conditions and maybe bring awareness to how these people live.”

Pullen says when he and his family

vacation, they make it a point to visit a place in which they can help, whether it’s working with orphans in Nicaragua or photographing children playing in the streets of Costa Rica. “God’s given me a gift and I feel like it’s selfish to keep it all to myself just to make money for myself,” he says. “In the grand scheme of things you’re better well-served to go and help people than try to build your name up.”

Modest, yet determined in his career,

Pullen never had any lofty expectations or dreams of becoming a rockstar photographer in the big city. His goals were simple when he set out to create images. “When it started to become a reality, my dream was being able to support my family by shooting photos, and to be able to go and help people in some small way. I feel like that’s what matters.”

FALL 2013

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