City Creatives: Daniel Horowitz sees idyllic landscapes through his lens

City Creatives: Daniel Horowitz sees idyllic landscapes through his lens
Daniel Horowitz has been photographing the area for decades. (Courtesy photo)

By Ariana Wilson

Clouds brushed across the sky form the background of an illuminated image of the iconic George Washington National Masonic Memorial Temple as it boldly stands in the heart of Alexandria.

King Street is void of patrons and covered in snow as street lamps shine brightly on the serene night. Bridges connect the eyes of the beholder to the simplified complexity of the architecture and the natural composition that can be seen.

Photographs can be portals, taking viewers on a journey through an artist’s mind, a chance to delve deeper into their creative vision. It seems almost impossible not to feel transported into these scenes as photographer Daniel Horowitz captures an idyllic picture of the landscapes we enjoy everyday.

Horowitz’s dedication to photography has brought forth a deep appreciation for Alexandria’s historic charm. His ability to capture the city’s allure allows people to experience the moments he immortalizes through his lens. His commitment to creating a collection of images that speaks to the soul of the viewer ensures that each photograph is not just visually appealing, but a vessel for narratives that resonate deeply within those who view them.

“I’m a huge admirer of André Kertész, the great 20th century Hungarian American photographer,” Horowitz said of his inspirations. “Everything from his early still lifes to his later polaroids that were shot in his apartment as an old man. He pretty much proves that a photograph is the sum total of what the photographer puts in, and not the inherent quality of the subject.”

Horowitz’s love for Alexandria is evident in his respect for its beauty and the way he seeks to communicate its rich history and evolving landscape through his storytelling.

He has been capturing the beauty of Alexandria since he moved to the historic city in 2000 from Boston. He’s a Los Angeles native, but accepted a job with a federal investigative board in Washington, D.C., and quickly fell in love with Old Town.

“We wanted a place that was quiet, historic, walkable and good to raise a family. While the federal government has gone through many upheavals, Alexandria just always seemed to get better and better,” Horowitz said.

King Street adorned with snow. (Photo/Daniel Horowitz)

His dedication to his craft has earned him recognition and praise within the photography community, affirming his qualities as a talented and sought-after photographer. A recent accolade from Wikimedia places Horowitz at sixth in the world for photographs of historic sites.

“When I was younger, I spent some years studying in England, where I developed a deep appreciation for the land, the built environment and the historic sites that you stumble on everywhere,” Horowitz recalled. “I always took a camera around – film at that time – and tried to document whatever I saw and capture the mood.”

The dreary climate presented an opportunity to transfer his developed skills into low-light and night photography.

“I think I brought some of that sensibility along when I finally ended up here in Alexandria,” Horowitz said.

His portfolio showcases his love of stunning landscapes and architecture. His use of creative composition truly brings each photo to life, drawing the viewer into the scene and allowing them to experience the beauty of each captured moment.

Fueling his passion for being a perpetual student, Horowitz intentionally finds ways to be comfortable being uncomfortable by trying new things with his craft. He’s studied in many places to learn the art of photography, including The Art League, Capital Photography Center and the Rhode Island School of Design.

Last fall, a friend of Horowitz could not photograph the annual benefit and adoption event, Paws in the Park. With apprehension, he agreed to the gig and “hit the books,” as he said, and read up on flattering camera angles for dogs.

“In the end I had the best day: got some great images, met dozens of people and their pets and assisted a good cause,” Horowitz said.

Horowitz’s critical eye ensures that only the most impactful images make it to the editing phase.

“I spend a lot of time in art museums, for example, trying to learn from painting and printmaking. Every time you pick up a camera, it’s worth taking a few moments to think about what is noteworthy about what I’m seeing and how would an artist paint that scene to communicate directly with the viewer,” Horowitz said.

Selecting and editing photographs is just as meticulous and introspective as setting up a shot and taking photos. After reflecting on the myriad of moments, the selection process begins with a careful review of each image, considering not only its technical qualities like composition and lighting, but the perspective of the viewer and the story it conveys. This thoughtful process ensures the final portfolio is not just a collection of images, but a cohesive narrative that conveys his deep commitment to visual storytelling.

One of his signature subjects, bridges, was derived from an idea prompted in a photography class he had taken.

“Washington, [D.C.] truly is a city of bridges, and no two are really alike. They are each so varied in architecture, materials of construction and style,” Horowitz said. “Each one seems to evoke the age when it was made, from the classical stonework of [the Francis Scott] Key[Memorial] Bridge (in Baltimore) to the soaring arches of Frederick Douglass [Memorial Bridge]. Alexandria is especially fortunate to have the [Woodrow] Wilson Bridge, which from underneath elicits a gothic cathedral.”

Horowitz enjoys photographing the Wilson Bridge due to its proximity to home and the visual diversity that comes with it being a drawbridge.

Daniel Horowitz loves to photograph bridges for their unique architecture. (Photo/Daniel Horowitz)

“It was a great honor for me when the architect of the Wilson Bridge bought one of my photographs of it to hang above his mantle,” Horowitz said.

The scenes Horowitz presents during the day are illuminated by the sun, but he prefers the shadows of the night and all the different light sources that correspond to create a scene, especially “headlights and street lamps and the light coming out of the windows and the moon shining down,” Horowitz said.

“For me, as a photographer, it’s just a very serene experience to be out at night and I [feel like I] can finally concentrate,” Horowitz said. “Nighttime opens up a lot of possibilities that are hard to achieve in the daytime. A nighttime exposure can be fast or it can be minutes long, which allows one to explore the dimension of time and how a scene is changing within a single frame.”

Alexandria may be a constantly developing city with new architecture, character and people, but Horowitz sees opportunity.

“Maybe it’s changed, but if there’s one thing I could accomplish with my photography, it would be to remind all of us that we are fortunate to live in an incredibly beautiful place.”