Daniel DeArco: Photographer, Filmmaker

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 hospitals in Northern California... by that time my body went into shock. The E.R. and intensive care unit were where I lived 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. After an 8 hour operation, I have a neck built out of 1/2 titanium-tantalum metal alloy, re-learned how to walk, the staff nicknamed me, "Miracle", and I'm basically part robot. 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.

I spent the following 3-4 months doing absolutely nothing at all, lost 80% of my muscle mass, and had to wear a giant neck support. As depressed as I was, I had never been more set on living life with a purpose--it was almost as if I was kept alive for a reason. You wouldn't believe it, but within 6 months I was back in the gym training and regained most of my physical abilities.

Within that recovery period, my camera was the one thing that distracted me from negative thoughts. I fell in love with taking pictures everywhere I went, and developed an understanding for the lighting and composition as I grew my portfolio. Shooting action became somewhat of a specialty of mine, but over 6 years later, I've done commercial work for a variety of companies: Windsor Fashions, Popflex Active, Sonata Dancewear, JLE Industries, Blogilates, GS Love, California Sunday Magazine, etc.

Outside of photography, I also have an obsession with hobby engineering and science. Because the doctors told me that my body was part metal, it sparked a strange curiosity––a curiosity that eventually led to me investing in a personal workshop, where I learned how to build props for shoots, robotic camera rigs, and other fun things (more on my youtube channel). Cameras, movement, and mechatronics are my obsessions.