Last November, I volunteered to produce a series of recorded online interviews with the winners of the 2021 APA SF “Something Personal” contest. I know, 2021 seems like a million years ago already, but the goal with these videos was to promote the event in early December where the 2022 winners would be announced. I love talking with people and learning about them, so this was a golden opportunity to talk with true photographic artists and hear their stories.

Each of the four photographers I spoke with take their craft seriously and I want to share a few takeaways about each. Watch and share these videos we did together, but also, check these photographers out for yourself and call them up!
Dan Simmons is a product photographer in Oakland, CA. He obviously enjoys his work, but he is also joyful about his work. You can tell he loves it by the enthusiasm in his voice when describing test shoots. There were images I picked out to discuss that were just random experiments that he put the time, money and effort into making look as good as his client work.

Dan Simmons is a product photographer in Oakland, CA. He obviously enjoys his work, but he is also joyful about his work. You can tell he loves it by the enthusiasm in his voice when describing test shoots. There were images I picked out to discuss that were just random experiments that he put the time, money and effort into making look as good as his client work.


Aaron Kotowski is a cool dude and a badass photographer working near New York City. He doesn’t mince words and he delivers powerful images, often of powerful people. I laughed more during my talk with Aaron than the others because he’s funny off the cuff, which reminds me; check out the “About” page on his website – it’s one of the best I’ve ever read.


Lindsay Siu lives and works in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is thoughtful, empathetic, clear and direct. She’s an artist. I really enjoyed talking with her about the process of directing because there is a lot of thought that takes place before she ever pushes the button. Lindsay has the technical ability to create on her own, but also the leadership skills to direct a team when executing a larger vision of personal work or for conceptual client work.


Markku Lahdesmakki is a Finnish lifestyle photographer in Palm Springs, CA. I probably related most to Markku because his style is very organic and loose – he sees storytelling opportunities in the world around us and often walks around with a camera and approaches people about taking their picture. For such a simple process, he has the eye for turning normal life into something special when captured frame by frame. I love his series of polar bear swimmers back in Finland; he shared that they agreed to have their picture made only if he joined them in the frigid water. That would’ve been a deal-breaker for me.

I’m excited to be part of APA SF and volunteer to make this video series. We will soon be recording the next set of interviews with the 2022 Something Personal winners. The Bay Area has such a rich history of photographic iconoclasts, I’m already looking forward to who else we may get on camera to discuss their work and why they do it.

Mixed Bag Media is a team of collaborative creatives and visual thinkers who tell compelling stories and create eye-catching imagery. With offices in Decatur, GA (near Atlanta) and Concord, CA (near San Francisco) we partner with talented people near and far to serve a wide clientele. Got any questions? Let us know at info@mixedbagmedia.tv. Find us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.