Dan Kurtzman: A Marin Photographer on a Mission

Dan Kurtzman

Marin-based photographer Dan Kurtzman (@dankurtzmanphotography) shot the cover image of a sunset at Rodeo Beach for Marin Magazine’s outdoor-themed June issue, sprinting to capture the “decisive moment”: the perfect light as it hit the sea stack rock formations. He spoke with us about getting his start at the Redwood High School newspaper, moving on to photojournalism and now making a living as a landscape photographer always trying to “get above the fog.”

How did you get interested in photography?

I was inspired at an early age by my uncle, who was a photojournalist and gave me my first camera. I got my start as a photographer for the school newspaper at Redwood High back in the days when we developed our own film in the darkroom, and have been hooked ever since. I worked for a time as a photojournalist and always felt like that training helped me to visualize and anticipate capturing ephemeral moments as a landscape photographer. 

Where are your favorite places in Marin County to shoot?

Any place where I can get above the fog. I love exploring the Marin Headlands with all the amazing views of the bridge, the city and the coastline. But my favorite place in Marin, and possibly the world, is up on Mt. Tam. I’ve spent many magical evenings chasing fog and light up on Bolinas Ridge. It’s constantly changing and always spectacular.

What other photographers inspire you?

Ansel Adams, Galen Rowell and Michael Frye are some of my foremost influences as a landscape photographer. I also draw inspiration from photojournalists like Steve McCurry and Pete Souza, whose unique talent for capturing the “decisive moment” is something I’m always striving to emulate in my work. 

A post shared by Dan Kurtzman • San Francisco (@dankurtzmanphotography)

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A post shared by Dan Kurtzman • San Francisco (@dankurtzmanphotography)

Where has your work been published?

My work has been published in books, magazines and newspapers around the world — most notably as part of three Rizzoli book collections I edited, titled San Francisco on InstagramLos Angeles on Instagram and New York City on Instagram, featuring photos by many talented photographers. My work has been syndicated globally by Getty Images and featured locally by SFGate, 7×7 Magazine, KTVU and NBC Bay Area, among others. One favorite highlight was when the San Francisco Giants invited me to be their photographer for the day and featured my photos exclusively on their Instagram account.

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A post shared by Dan Kurtzman • San Francisco (@dankurtzmanphotography)

What are your goals going forward?

Exploring more of our national parks and especially more of the American Southwest. International destinations like Banff in the Canadian Rockies, the Swiss Alps, Iceland and Norway are also high on my photo bucket list. I also hope to one day visit every Major League ballpark and document the journey along the way. 

What is your best advice for others pursuing a career in photography?  

Develop your eye by taking photos every day, try all kinds of photography styles, and take a variety of jobs to hone your craft and find your niche. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, share your work and embrace critical feedback. Be a lifelong student of photography and always keep adapting and learning.

To see more of Dan’s work, visit www.dankurtzman.com.

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Lotus Abrams

Lotus Abrams has covered everything from beauty to business to tech in her editorial career, but it might be writing about her native Bay Area that inspires her most. She lives with her husband and two daughters in the San Francisco Peninsula, where they enjoy spending time outdoors at the area’s many open spaces protected and preserved by her favorite local nonprofit, the Peninsula Open Space Trust.