Bio: Daniel DéArco, the Compulsive Creative
I had kind of an unorthodox start in photography. Definitely not one of those, "I just, picked up a camera one day and fell in love!", kind of stories. I used to be an acrobat and performing artist––a pretty good one if I'm being honest. In 2011 I was at the top of my physical prime when one day during private training I fell directly on my head and severely broke my neck in two places. Somehow, I managed to make it back home on my own in a semi-paralyzed state from the torso up, and was rushed to one of the top 2 hospitals in Northern California by the time my body went into shock. The E.R. and intensive care unit were my girlfriends for the following two weeks. They had to call in the best neurosurgeon in the county, and when he got there, he showed me the MRI and said: "you know what Daniel.. I want to call you one full person right now, but technically your head should have fallen off. I'm not sure how you made it this far, seeing as how your outer neck muscles are the only thing that isn't broken or torn." Apparently, the broken bones were under 5 millimeters away from piercing my spinal cord, and killing or paralyzing me for life. Suffice to say, I wouldn't be sitting here writing this. For 3 days they left my neck broken because of the diligent planning needed.
Fast forward. It's a couple of weeks later after an 8 hour operation, I have a neck built out of 50% titanium-tantalum metal alloy, re-learned how to walk, the staff nicknamed me, "Miracle", and I'm basically part robot. The only thing was, I was told that physically, I'd never be 100% again, and I would have to give up my dream of being a world class acrobat and Cirque Du Soleil performer.
So... a little depressing. I spent the following 3-4 months doing absolutely nothing at all, lost majority of my essential muscle mass, and had to wear a giant neck support. Sitting around eating junk food and watching re-runs of Grey's Anatomy (I missed the hospital), was pretty much my career plan. I eventually looked back at my childhood memories and realized that my entire life I had been (almost compulsively) a creative person; building things, drawing in a sketch book, sculpting with clay. It got me thinking about if there was another side to me that had been neglected.
One day my cousin bought me a photography book while I was bedridden. I opened the bag, looked at her, and asked, "how the hell did you know I wanted this book?"
She answered: "Oh I didn't know, we just saw it in Barnes & Noble and figured you might like it.
I immediately grabbed my camera and saw this as a sign that I could look into photography as a career path. Within half a year of getting the neck support removed, I was – miraculously, and against doctor's orders – back in the gym training like never before, and I was shooting photography with friends, models, etc. to grow my portfolio book.
Nowadays, I'm a full-time, professional photographer. If it's not fun action-based photo shoots, I'm shooting advertisements, fashion, look books, social media marketing content, and other commercial work for clientele. Recently I've been hired to shoot for Windsor Fashions, GS Love, Blogilates, Sonata Dancewear (Singapore), Popflex Active, and so on.
Outside of photography, I'm a hobbyist fabricator, and spend a lot of time in my workshop building things––whether they be props for photoshoots, equipment, or other inventions of mine. The metal body parts that were installed into my body sparked a personal obsession with metallurgy (material science of metals), physics, and engineering. If I hadn't almost died, I wouldn't be a photographer or a recreational science geek. The good thing is, I still occasionally practice acrobatics for exercise, or pull off some silly dance moves in my video projects!
We all have our experiences. My crucible made me who I am today, and I wear the scars with content.