This post is a part of our series "Real Men" where we chat with real life customers about anything and everything: from their first shaving experience to what working hard and growing a career is like in their field. Click here to see our first Real Men feature.
Grant Daniels has been a friend and customer with Supply for a while now. He plays a huge role in our business as the incredibly talented eye behind the lens of all our lifestyle photography. You may also recognize him from some of our video ads since he so graciously modeled for us a few years back. (Note: be careful, if you're our friend. You may end up in our ads.) Long before we met, Grant was building a highly sought after photography business, specializing in weddings, portrait and recently product photography. He also happens to office next door to Supply HQ, so we get to see a lot of one another. If you're in the need of a photographer, look no further.
Tell us about yourself and how you got your start in the photography world.
I’m a full time wedding photographer, but I also shoot lifestyle and products for small brands. I help brands bring their products and vision dynamically to the web. That’s what I love doing, but my bread and butter is wedding photography.
While I started my business seven years ago during college, my love for photography really began in high school by shooting senior photos. I had a really inspirational mentor, who also happened to be my high school photography teacher, who taught me how to shoot and really launched me onto an entrepreneurial track.
So, in college I started shooting weddings, kind of as a fluke thing. My vision of wedding photography transformed when I realized weddings don’t have to be this copy and paste, cookie cutter experience but can actually be unique, artistic, and creative. By the time I was a senior, I was cranking out around 40 weddings a year. I graduated, married my wife Laine, and she joined my team. We shot weddings together for about four years until we had our daughter, June. She stepped out of the business at that time and is now a full time mom.
So - is the high school photography class where you really got started?
Yeah - I took the class randomly. Always been pretty creative, but I didn’t know that I had this untapped creativity there until I started experimenting with the camera. I fell in love with it all. Then in college, the entrepreneurial bug started to really bite, and my business took off.
Tell us about your latest business venture.
I opened The Darkroom here in Fort Worth, which is a natural light studio for photographers. It functions like an Airbnb for photographers. You can bring your clients or rent it for yourself to shoot personal work. The space is beautiful and fully equipped with furniture and equipment for your use.
We’re actually located next door to Supply, and we love being neighbors. Later this summer, we'll be opening a second, larger Darkroom space. My hope is to continue to grow the creative community here in Fort Worth by providing spaces to create art and magic.
You just celebrated your first Father's Day. How has becoming a father affected your perspective on masculinity and being a dad?
Being a new dad, Father’s Day has a whole new meaning to it. I believe the core of true masculinity is humility. Something I struggle with is being humble and striving to not put my needs above others. Now being a dad, I am not having to just look out for my needs or my wife’s needs. I have a whole new human in my life, you know, a new baby girl that I get to take care of. I’m continually being broken and rebuilt to continue to look out for her needs and to stay humble.
My perspective on fatherhood is changing, because I’m having to practice that humility more. The idea of being a servant and loving your family unconditionally has always been something that I have wanted to do, but it’s not always just a point A to point B journey. It comes with a lot of hard work and sacrifice.
Who taught you how to shave and how did it go?
If I remember correctly, I think I taught myself how to shave. I was like 5 or 6 years old when I took my dad’s electric razor and tried to shave hair that wasn’t there. And you know what they say about electric razors, you just can’t trust them, so you gotta go with a Single Edge. (laughs)
It's kind of fuzzy, but my dad taught me how to shave. However, now my world has been changed, because I use my Single Edge. When I do shave, beardman here, I shave my neck with it. It works great. Shameless plug, that’s not paid for. Not sponsored. Real life customer.
What's the best advice you've ever been given?
Personally, I would say reading and knowing the Bible. Any great advice someone could give me will always be a derivative of what scripture says. So, knowing the word, because it gives you life.
The best business advice is to always protect your baby. As in, you have your first business that got you started, and you have to protect it first. Yes, use the momentum to help other businesses grow, but don’t rely on your baby to run your other businesses. Because worst case scenario, your other business could end up cannibalizing your baby.
Last, in terms of photography, relationships are so important. It’s 100% about who you know. What sets good business owners apart are that they are just relational and care about people. Every business has the opportunity to be relational at some level. Knowing your customer, treating them with respect, and just listening to them goes a long way.
Tell us about your morning routine.
Alright - I’ll give you my pre-baby, desired morning routine: Wake up. Exercise. Read my Bible. Drink coffee, and then get to work by 8 AM -- that would be my perfect world, but that doesn’t always happen. Right now, it’s wake up and get maybe one or two of those done. Plus - coffee always!
How do you take your coffee?
Espresso. All the way. I’m a big, self-proclaimed coffee snob. I have espresso machines at my house and office, because I'm really passionate about the process of coffee and sustainability.
A lot of farmers are not getting paid what they deserve, because large corporations have leverage over them. One of my best friends, best man at my wedding actually, works in coffee and has educated me on how the coffee process is done and what fair trade really means.
I drink about one or two espressos a day. I drink my first in the morning, and the caffeine will get me to around 1 or 2 pm. Then, I'll have one more that’ll carry me into the night. Espresso is easier, so much more flavorful, and it’s about the entire experience.
What is your favorite Supply product?
It really depends. Sometimes I just smell my Sierra Ridge Healing Post Shave if I want to smell something good. I would say the Healing Post Shave is one of my favorite products apart from the Single Edge.
The Single Edge is just a really unique product. It’s like nothing I’ve ever used before in the shaving world. I used multi-blade cartridge razors forever, and then I tried electric razors but I'm never going back.
So, final answer, probably the Single Edge or the Healing Post Shave, but they all work together and really complement each other.
What's next for you?
The Darkroom is growing. I’m shooting a lot right now. I’m still going to continue to shoot weddings, but I’m working on shooting more local, editorial and advertising projects. I love working with small brands and am actively trying to grow that part of my business. My bigger vision is to continue to build a creative community and bring small brands to life here in Fort Worth through personal photography, the Darkroom and connecting with others.