We had the good fortune of connecting with Danny McGee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Danny, do you disagree with some advice that is more or less universally accepted?
The typical advice that I got and almost everyone else gets is to “Go to college and then you’ll be successful”. That advice is ingrained into us since the time we’re little kids. Successful and “smart” people go to college. Less successful people don’t. I don’t know why this is so deeply pounded into our heads from such an early age, but in my experience it could’t be further from the truth. There are SO man incredible things you can do without a college degree. Trades, starting your own business, doing what I do. But usually and definitely in my case when I told everyone I was dropping out of college most people kinda looked down on me. Everyone told me I was really screwing up but in the back of my mind I knew I wasn’t. College isn’t for everyone, and honestly some of the most successful people I know never went.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a full time adventure photographer / videographer. I shoot stuff mostly in the travel sector working for brands like Google, Redbull, United Airlines, GoPro. DJI and more. With my photos / films, I really try to tell a story with every one. There’s so many incredible stories to be told all over the world, simple ones, complex ones, beautiful ones ugly ones. With all the content I put out I want people to take something away from it. I want them to learn something, realize something, get a good laugh, make them smile. In a world saturated by incredible photos / films, I set myself apart by just being real! As with anything worth doing – it definitely wasn’t easy. It took years and a million “no”s before I finally started to get enough “yes’s” to sustain myself. In the beginning no one really understood what I meant when I said I want to travel, take pictures and make videos. Obviously they were like how the hell are you going to do that and who’s going to pay you to do it? I knew I’d find a way to make it work, but it was definitely hard in the beginning just being the only one that saw the long term vision. There were plenty of times where I was really discouraged but just knowing my end goal always got me through it. The biggest lesson I’ve learned over the past few years is that you have to go out and make your own opportunities. So many people are just waiting for that perfect moment. I’ll go chase after my dreams, next year, once I graduate college, once I have enough money saved up. The truth is that perfect moment never comes. People will spend their whole lives waiting for that moment. All you have to do is take that first step, then another small step, then another. You have to create your own opportunities, and all it takes is a small step in the beginning.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love Denver, but with how things are nowadays I’d opt for a trip outside around the whole state. I’d hop in my van and take them on a full tour of Colorado. We’d grab breakfast at my favorite cafe in manitou, Good Karma, then head south. First we’d stop at the Sand Dunes, then further south to Durango, Telluride, Crested Butte, then make our way back home.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’ve gotta shoutout my parents! Even if in the beginning they thought I was out of my mind chasing this career that didn’t even really exist at the time, their constant support got me to where I am today. They’re still my biggest supporters / inspiration to this day and I can’t thank them enough for that!
Niklas Siemens (Me on ridgeline) Kevin Eassa (Me in front of Eiffel tower)