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Conversations with Dalton Spangler

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dalton Spangler.

Hi Dalton, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I may get super detailed in this, and if you think we should leave things out, fine. I was a Personnel Recovery and Processing Specialist in the Marines. This would be called mortuary affairs in the Army. Not what I wanted to do, but I was so eager to join and serve. During my enlistment, a pretty rare opportunity arose where I could switch to any branch I wanted and nearly any other job I wanted. I had decided to stay with the Marines, but I was going to start the process of becoming a Combat Camera. I’ve always been interested in photography but could never pull the trigger on buying a camera. (Here is the sh*tty part) You can paraphrase however you want. I’ve never done this before, but it’s part of the story. During my service, I developed a severe addiction to pain killers due to being prescribed them for an injury that honestly did not require that strong of a medication. Because of this addiction, my father and I got into an argument; he threw my stuff out ALONG with my signed-off papers to make a lateral move to a Combat Camera. That quickly, that dream died. My random interest in photography did not, though, after being discharged from the Marines and battling addiction for quite a few years. I started a job in IT, where I met the mother of my child; we ended up living together very quickly, but she was able to pick up on my interest in photography. She got with my Mom, and they bought me a $500 camera with crappy kit lenses, and ever since, it has been my new unhealthy addiction that takes ALL of my money, but I love doing this. After a few photos, people started offering to pay, and I never looked back. I was eventually able to upgrade to my dream camera. The lens alone cost more than double my entire previous camera body, lenses, and other gear I had bought. I’m not full-time, but I’m seriously starting to consider it. I’m a single father, and I still work full-time in IT, so it’s a risk, and I’m just not completely ready to pull the trigger. But regardless of the money, I’m happy to have found a healthy hobby. It’s become more of a job recently, but I still love it.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Working full time, commuting nearly 2.5 hours daily to and from work, being a single father, and still trying to stay disciplined enough to get to the gym as much as possible certainly make it hard to focus as much energy as possible.

After the breakup, I sold my DREAM Camera out of fear and to make ends meet. I never forgave myself for how my Military career ended, making me highly self-critical. Subconsciously I think photography is somehow my road to redemption and self-forgiveness, but the biggest obstacle and challenge is how hard I can be on myself. I often overthink instead of just doing. If someone criticized me the way I criticized myself and beat them up for it, nobody would bat an eye; they’d think that guy had it coming, talking to someone like that. But I do this to myself at times, which can lower my confidence and drive to keep going, but it always goes away, and I keep pushing and working. I am my biggest obstacle. I need to get out of my way a lot of the time.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
The business is named Dalton Ray Photography. I will shoot anything within my financial means, meaning I’m not doing work on projects with massive budgets, just yet at least. But I mostly specialize in portraits and lifestyle photography, as well as some weddings, but I am starting to step away from weddings. I genuinely enjoy taking photos of people doing something they love or that interests them the way photography interests me. I’m not going to lie. Sometimes, I wish I had someone to take photos of me because I’m in my element. When you watch someone does something they love, you can see how relaxed and happy they are. They tend to be much more relaxed, making photography much easier. I prefer unposed and natural photos over posed photos any day of the week.

Other than some of the photos I’ve taken, I’m most proud of the fact that with all of the negativity going on in the world. I found something that not only brings me joy but allows me to be a small part of many people’s happiest days, whether it’s a wedding, birthday, graduation, newborn, etc.. These are all amazing moments that we only celebrate once in most cases. I’m glad I can be a part of so many happy moments.

What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
I love the sports culture and atmosphere of Baltimore city. It is unlike any other City. The food and Bars are amazing. I don’t want this to come off as political or negative, so you can change this however you see fit, but I’m very disappointed in just how unsafe Baltimore can be. It has so much potential, but right now, the crime and social issues don’t seem to be getting any better.

Pricing:

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Contact Info:

Image Credits
My headshot was taken and edited by Carmen Donisi @carmenisabellaphoto The photo of the guy in front of the window and the wedding couple on the beach were shot and edited by myself but I was a second shooter on this wedding with Maddie Berlen @madisonberlenphoto (Madison Berlen Photography LLC)

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