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Interview with Writer and Photographer Dana Crandell

I grew up learning to appreciate the outdoors, the universe and every living thing. I feel more at home and much more energetic when I’m out there, connecting with nature.

By Cendrine MarrouatPublished 6 months ago 7 min read
Top Story - August 2023
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Dana Crandell - Photo courtesy of guest

Today, I am excited to spotlight Dana Crandell, a wonderful member of the Vocal community.

Dana Crandell is a husband, father, grandfather, poet, writer, photographer, and artist with a profound love of nature, dogs, and the written word. Born an Arizona desert (b)rat and currently stuck in Texas, he will soon be returning to Wyoming where his heart is at home.

Cendrine Marrouat: Hello Dana! How did you get started as a writer and photographer? And what came first?

Dana Crandell: I’ve been writing for myself since childhood, but I was first asked to write for others in 1993 or ‘94, when I started coding websites for my friends and first clients. I was surprised to find people were willing to pay for my versions of their business descriptions, etc. It was also 1993 when I won my first contest with one of my poems, which was a huge surprise.

Photography really took hold when I bought my first “real” camera: a Canon AE-1 Program SLR in the very late 70s or early 80s. It wasn’t long before I was driving everyone at home and at work crazy, shooting anything that didn’t move and most of what did. I built a basement darkroom with some advice from a friend and of course, after that I never looked back.

So, writing came first overall, but the lines are a little blurred.

CM: How does creativity speak to you? Do you make art every day?

DC: I’m always creating in my head, so I guess creativity just never shuts up.

I don’t find nearly enough time these days to draw or paint. I’m hoping to change that soon. Photography happens all the time, but not on a daily basis. I might be out in the backyard photographing the moon or the stars on any given night. When Pam and I travel for any reason, the camera is always along for the ride.

I have art projects in different stages of completion all over the house.

CM: What art form influences the other more? And why do you think it is the case?

DC: That’s an interesting question. Photography lessons and tutorials are a big part of the writing I do for clients, so there’s a definite influence there. I’ve used my photos as inspiration for poems and stories, so there’s an influence there, too. I suppose, in terms of quantity, my photography has more to do with what I write, at least in the business sense. It’s not quite the same on Vocal.

CM: One of my favorite poems of yours is “Grains.” I am particularly moved by the last stanza: “Feel the ground underneath you. / Feel the birds in the air. / Be at one with the cosmos, / And I'll see you out there.” Why is nature so important to you?

DC: The answer to that one goes back to my childhood. I grew up learning to appreciate the outdoors, the universe and every living thing. I feel more at home and much more energetic when I’m out there, connecting with nature. I believe the idea of “recharging” through that connection is more than an idea.

CM: Photographer Yousuf Karsh advised to “look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.” As a photographer yourself, do you agree? Why? And how does it translate into your own photographic work?

DC: Hmm. I agree, mostly. The heart and mind definitely come into play, but I lean more toward the heart in creating. For me, the mind comes into play much earlier. I’ve spent years learning the tools, “rules” and techniques. Composition, exposure and the technical aspects are almost instinctive now, and I usually have my camera settings chosen and locked in ahead of time. When I’m actually looking through the viewfinder, I trip the shutter when the shot “feels” right. My heart knows what I want to say with the final image.

CM: What are two images that you feel sum up your style as a photographer?

DC: This is a really tough one for me, since I’ve never really analyzed my “style.” I play around in a wide number of genres and I think the style probably varies. I finally asked Pam to help and we’re going to go with two nature photos: one that the Vocal community has seen and one they haven’t:

  • “Dark Enough,” because I wish more people would take the time to look at the night sky and wonder. I can’t NOT do that and I want that wonder to show in my photos.
  • “Apple Blossoms,” because flowers are a favorite subject, because of the layers of intricacy Nature builds into them, not to mention that the ones in this photo will become Golden Delicious apples. That’s an amazing transformation.
Dark Enough by Dana Crandell

Apple Blossoms by Dana Crandell

CM: Who are your favorite artists?

DC: Assuming we’re talking about visual art, I’ll skip the Old Masters. There are things I admire about their works, but I’m not what I’d consider an art critic or connoisseur. I’ll skip my artist friends too, because there are just too many whose work I love and I wouldn’t want to leave anyone out.

I love Frank Frazetta’s work. I was introduced to it on the covers of books I read as a teenager. It’s full of tension and movement, and it’s alive. And I love Shel Sivlertein’s fun little Illustrations in his books. Both are outstanding in different ways.

CM: What advice would you give an aspiring artist interested in making a difference in the world?

DC: The first advice I give people is always, “Don’t ask me. I have no idea what I’m doing.” That said, I think I’d say, “Be authentic, even when you’re creating pure fantasy. Pour yourself on the canvas or into the photo or on the paper and your message will come through.”

Oh, and, “Learn the rules. All the rules. Then go out and break them.”

CM: What is one of your writing quirks that you feel makes you unique among your peers?

DC: I’m so glad you said, “one of.” I have a lot of quirks. To be honest, I have trouble seeing myself as anyone’s peer. I follow so many amazing creators and for the most part, I’m just hoping to achieve their level one day.

CM: What do you want people to learn from your work?

DC: I hope they’ll learn to stop and look. There’s so much to be seen in the world, but we’re focused on our careers, our goals and our problems. Watch a sunset. Look at that crazy, old tree. Investigate an old farmhouse. And please, take the time to look at the stars.

CM: According to you, what role does art play in society? And do you see this role changing in the near future?

DC: Wow, you really saved the hard questions for this interview! I think art lets us escape. It transports us. Not necessarily to something more pleasant, because sometimes we need to step out of our own little world and see someone else’s. Or maybe more importantly, the same world from someone else’s perspective.

I hope that doesn’t change and I see no real reason for it to.

CM: Anything else people should know?

DC: Let’s see… First of all, I’m grateful to the writers in the Vocal community for helping me restart my creative engine. I’ve been writing content for other people for too long. I’m finally getting my act together and looking into publishing some of my works in print.

Along with some of my work on Vocal, that will include books I’ve been planning to write for too many years.

I “officially” became a dad just after my 18th birthday. Although I started working when I was 14, I spent the first few years as a father working any and every job I could to provide for the family. I’ve shoveled sh*t for minimum wage. I finally got a break and landed an industrial “career” that lasted almost 10 years. I haven’t always lived this glamourous (Hah!) writer’s life.

The most rewarding job I’ve ever had was teaching the Arts to kids and adults with disabilities and encouraging them to pursue artistic careers. I learned more from my students than I ever taught. I miss it.

What else… I’ve been a web developer/programmer for over 25 years and I operate a small hosting and promotion service for artists. Because, you know, I don’t want to get bored.

Support Dana Crandell’s work!

That's it for today! Thank you for reading!

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Interested in being featured too? I would love to hear from you!

Check out my guidelines below:

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Cendrine Marrouat is a writer, photographer, podcaster, blogger, anthology editor, and the co-founder of Auroras & Blossoms and A Warm Cup of Cozy. She has authored and co-authored more than 40 books, including The Train: A Short Story (2023), In Her Own Words: A Collection of Short Stories & Flashku (2022), After the Fires of Day: Haiku Inspired by Kahlil Gibran & Alphonse de Lamartine (2021), Rhythm Flourishing: A Collection of Kindku and Sixku (2020), Walks: A Collection of Haiku (2019-2020), and In the Silence of Words: A Three-Act Play (2018).

Cendrine's work has appeared in many publications. She is the creator of the Sixku, Flashku, Sepigram, and Reminigram; as well as the co-creator of the Kindku, Pareiku, Vardhaku, and Hemingku.

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About the Creator

Cendrine Marrouat

Writer & Author⎜Photographer⎜Artist⎜Co-founder of Auroras & Blossoms / A Warm Mug of Cozy⎜(Co-)creator of literary forms

"The Train: A Short Story" is out!

Website: https://creativeramblings.com

Donations: https://ko-fi.com/cendrineartist

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Comments (35)

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  • Shirley Belk2 months ago

    Dana, I'm a big fan of yours and this interview was pure gold! I promise to stop and look more this new year!

  • Abdullah4 months ago

    I loved this interview

  • Heather Hubler6 months ago

    Loved this look into one of my favorite Vocal creators! What a wonderful interview, Cendrine :) Dana, you always create stories that captivate me. Your writer's voice, thoughtful wording, humor, authenticity, they all combine to make such wonderful things. And your photography is simply amazing. I enjoyed this one so much!

  • Jenna Tidd6 months ago

    Great interview with thought-provoking questions and equally thoughtful answers. Loved the whole vibe of this and the message to savor and feel the beauty in life.

  • Kristen Balyeat6 months ago

    I loved this interview, Cendrine! Wonderful question! Dana is one of my Vocal FAVES, and a pretty rad dude! Dana– So fun to learn more about you, and resonated so deeply with your responses. You know I'm a big fan of your photography, and I'm pretty obsessed with those two images you and Pam chose! I loved the whole interview, but these responses just made me so happy: "Be authentic, even when you’re creating pure fantasy. Pour yourself on the canvas or into the photo or on the paper and your message will come through.” and "I hope they’ll learn to stop and look. There’s so much to be seen in the world, but we’re focused on our careers, our goals and our problems. Watch a sunset. Look at that crazy, old tree. Investigate an old farmhouse. And please, take the time to look at the stars." Just so GOOD! Great job to both of you!

  • Caroline Jane6 months ago

    A fabulous interview! Lovely to get to know Dana more. Those photographs.. wow!!... talented man!

  • Paul Stewart6 months ago

    This is a lovely interview, Cendrine! Like Jason and so many others, I'm glad you interviewed Dana and your questions were brilliant. Very much tailored to him and you got the best answers out of him and we got to learn more about the man! Dana, well done for doing this - was awesome reading more stuff about you, pal! Congrats on the Top Story - So so so deserved!

  • JBaz6 months ago

    I am so happy you picked Dana, and I loved how you asked questions that gave us an insight to who he is. Also, I have to say to Dana, Frank Frazetta’s is one of my sons favorite artists as well. Congratulations on Top Story

  • Chloe Gilholy6 months ago

    I liked this interview. Especially love how he said his creativity doesn’t shut up.

  • Test6 months ago

    Great interview, and so fun to hear more about Dana, who is so awesome in so many ways. You can really feel him in his writing. Now we know just a little bit more of his philosophy and have seen his distinguished face and some of his photos. Happy happy happy💙Anneliese

  • Melissa Ingoldsby6 months ago

    Love Dana’s creative ways and writing☝️A very in depth perspective and interview!!!

  • Dana Stewart6 months ago

    There it is, congrats to you both on a job well done

  • Celia in Underland6 months ago

    A really great interview with an awesome writer! The questions were really thoughtful and well constructed, Cogratulations on Top Story! 🤍

  • Naomi Gold6 months ago

    Congrats, Cendrine and Dana! 🥂

  • Natalie Wilkinson6 months ago

    It is interesting to hear what motivates someone to write. Nice interview.

  • Teresa Renton6 months ago

    Great interview! Well done to you both. What a fabulous way to get to know our favourite writers 🤗😍

  • Dana Stewart6 months ago

    Great interview! Dana, you are right, art is an escape. Your photography is stunning, I love both photos featured here. Well done to you both!

  • Absolutely incredible ❤️📝😉💯👌👍Thanks for sharing, Dana❗

  • C. H. Richard6 months ago

    Amazing interview! Really enjoyed learning more about Dana and his vast experience in art, photography and writing. His pictures are stunning. Great job Cendrine 🌺

  • Phil Flannery6 months ago

    An interesting expose` of a man who loves what he does. Thank you both for this. The Dark Enough photo is amazing.

  • Oneg In The Arctic6 months ago

    A really well done interview, with some great questions, and wonderful photography :)

  • Babs Iverson6 months ago

    Fabulous interview Cendrine & Dana!!! Loved Cendrine's question which contained this quote, "The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera." Loving Dana's response too!!!

  • Dean F. Hardy6 months ago

    Dana is a boss. Thanks for doing this Cendrine.

  • Tiffany Gordon 6 months ago

    What a fun look into Dana's life! I thoroughly enjoyed this piece! I enjoy Dana's creations! Great job with the interview Cendrine!

  • Lamar Wiggins6 months ago

    Excellent interview with the man who created Dale. I love Dana's work. He has a wonderful attitude towards nature and life. He has also taught me a thing or two along the way through sharing his excellent skills and advice. I appreciate the both of you for making this interview come to life. 💖💯🍻

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