Background photo by Greg Hinson

A Few Words With Dan Cutrona

Dan Cutrona I got my first freelance gig before I even had a car—I had to borrow my brother’s car. This was up in Fitchburg for the Sentinel and Enterprise. I freelanced at the newspaper while I was majoring in photography at Fitchburg State College. I didn’t even touch a digital camera all through college—it was all film. I did an internship with an interior photographer and he got me into more of the magazine editorial side of things. I met my lovely bride from Falmouth, and when it came time to decide whether to be a full-time photojournalist or to try my hand at full-time freelancing, I jumped at the chance to freelance and we moved to Cape Cod.

When I first moved down, I was painting houses, grabbing some Cape Cod Times freelance work here and there, trying to make a living. Cape Cod LIFE was my first regular magazine gig—I was living right down the street from the old offices in Pocasset. I dropped off my portfolio, but I didn’t really know how it all worked. I was on a Cape Cod LIFE shoot assisting another photographer and the staff said to stop by the office. I stopped in and got my first assignment back in 2004.

I can’t specialize—I love everything I shoot. I do a lot of interiors and architectural stuff for homes, and I love that. I love doing weddings. But my true love is the environmental portrait type of assignment. Honestly, I look forward to shooting the Cape Cod LIFE Annual Guide every year.

In editorial stories, you have a little leeway—you can do a nice shot of somebody, you can do a little detail shot, then get an action shot, a nice overall shot. But in this issue, you’ve got to knock it out and tell the whole story in one shot. That’s an incredible challenge and I love doing it.

Before you even pick up a camera, you have to be comfortable with the person. Make sure they trust you, and make sure they’re willing to have their photo taken. Just chat with them for a minute. I never walk up to any of my subjects while carrying my camera. People hate getting their picture taken. You have to make sure it’s not a miserable experience for them in order to make the picture look good. Once everyone’s comfortable, you can toss out some ideas and get a good picture.

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