"Photography has become my mental health medicine!" says Daniel

This is Dan's story, thank you for your interest! I hope you find it of interest. Dan is autistic. He loves his adopted City Birmingham, he loves to travel and he loves photography.

'Bonnie', one of our family cats in 1988

From the age of about 7 I have been fascinated by photography, and had my first camera by the age of 10, an Halina 110 film format with two built-in lenses and a flash. I would take photos while on family holidays in Wales and I particularly enjoyed capturing the rally cross meetings when visiting the local motor racing circuit.

1987, Lydden Hill rallycross circuit, Dimi Mavropoulus's crazy Audi S1

An equaly mad Metro 6R4

I would send off the films for processing and had to endure an almost intolerable wait of a couple of weeks for the prints to arrive. When they did arrive it was better than birthdays and Christmas!

'Old Harry Rocks' near Tunbridge Wells, part of a college photography assignment in 1989

It was not until I went to college that I did any ‘serious’ photography, including developing and printing. I did several photography projects at college and with my first portfolio I was able to get a summer job doing baby and child portraiture in Mothercare, Boots, and BHS, taking and then selling photos to parents. I received very positive feedback about my photography but I was determined to seek a career in TV and Video Production, and taking photos was purely a hobby. I sold my camera in the third year of university for beer money and almost instantly regretted it.

The view from the top of the Sears (Willis) Tower in Chicago 1997

In 1997 I went to Chicago with my father and took a small 35mm snapper. I took many photos of the huge buildings there, I was obsessed with skyscrapers and still am. I wanted to capture the feeling of standing at the base of a massive skyscraper unlike anything I had ever seen.

I had found myself in Birmingham starting my first job in the television industry in 1994 and, although I had the typical south-east view of the place and had never been before, I very quickly fell in love with the city and felt moved to use my photography as a way of dispelling all the negative myths about it. Inspired by my trip to Chicago I started to photograph what has become my adopted home city.

Victoria Square in December 2003

In 1998 at the age of 30, I was diagnosed with autism (Asperger’s syndrome) and started to understand more about my challenges and how to manage my anxiety levels better. I also understood why I had ‘special interests’, photography of architecture was definitely one of my strongest, and I adore maps and have seventy two different atlases, I love skyscrapers and satelite photography, I can't get enough of Google Earth and I can't wait till I can afford a VR kit!

In November 2005 I went to New York and Chicago for ten days working but still came back with 39 rolls of 36 exposure film!

Looking up at the 450m Willis (Sears) Tower in November 2005

It was my birthday on this trip and I was feeling rebellious so I took this one on Fifth Avenue, November 2005

I bought my first digital SLR camera in 2008 and started to accumulate a large collection of photos of Birmingham. I showed some of them to friends and family and was overwhelmed by the positive feedback and encouragement I received.

Cambrian Wharf with the Flapper Canalside Pub in 2009

In 2010 I produced a set of ten Birmingham postcards, had 200 of each printed and managed to get a few small city shops to sell them. The venture didn't succeed very well and I lost interest in photography.

I was encouraged by a good friend to develop a distinctive style and I had already identified several things that I naturally did like framing with thirds, juxterpositions, high colour, because I liked the resulting photos. But I also realised that there was the 'no people' aspect of my photography and how it reflects how I see the world.

In 2011 I found myself alone for Christmas Day and whilst I was a bit down, I wasn't lonely. As an autistic person I have a base state of alone, so I took the opportunity to indulge my 'special interest' of city photography and to wander the streets of Birmingham city centre to get some shots. Serendipity intervened to gift this set of rare photos.


In 2013 I whad been working as a freelance video editor for a large company consistently for 18-months. The 3-hours of driving every day and extremely difficult working conditions resulted in so much stress that I became ill with clinical depression and anxiety disorder and had to cease work as a freelancer.

As part of my recovery, I was encouraged to indulge my ’special interests’ and chose to further my Birmingham promotion project by publishing my photography through social media. I published some of my archive of photos of the city but also started to take many more on a regular basis. I had fantastic feedback, I have continued ever since,  my Twitter account now has over 1400 followers and I have sold some of my photos as printsprints.

In 2015 I became a regular contributor to the new @BirminghamWeAre Twitter account and have gone on to become a full development partner with the parent social media platform FreeTimePays.com.

My photography has been considered as a large contributory factor in the success of their community engagement project which encourages others to send in their photography of the city.


I seem to be able to see photographs waiting to be taken, I can 'frame' a scene instantly in my mind so I just need to use the camera to capture it. I love to use the 'rule of thirds' with my compositions, I like to find great juxtapositions, colours, reflections and odd 'muddles' of things that are hard to work out what's going on at first glance.

The Birmingham Pyramids, April 2016

In 2016 I visited Edinburgh with my mother and came back with many great photos of the city.

Edinburgh, a Sea of Chimney Pots - April 2016

In  May 2016 I was honoured to win ’The Cube Photographer of the Year’, after submitting one of my photos of the iconic building.

My winning submission for the Cube Photographer of the Year 2016

Later in 2016 I was also contacted by a gentleman from Price Waterhouse Cooper in Birmingham inviting me to display my photos of the construction of their new headquarters at Paradise Birmingham, One Chamberlain Square, as a timeline gallery at their current base.

My photos on the wall at PwC with Matthew Hammond, Chairman, PwC Midlands in June 2018

The Demolition of the Central Library, June 2016

The Construction of PwC's One Chamberlain Square during May 2018

I continued to photograph the construction of the building and was invited by PwC to collaborate on a 'coffee table' book about the building using mainly my contruction photos photos.

This was completed in January 2020 and I went to the opening of the building where the book was distributed to lots of people and I got one to take home.

As part of my extra-curricular work with BirminghamWeAre I have produced five 'Birmingham Gems' charity calendars.


More recently, apart from publishing almost daily photography of Birmingham and especially since the pandemic restrictions, I have tried to develop several themes in my photography that have happened serendipitously over the year's. 'Reflections' is one that I have posted recently about, read more here: Reflections of Birmingham

Reflection of the Library in the part frozen pool in Centenary Square on 25th December 2020.

'Birmingham Lamps' is another, there are so many different types around the cityI

On or off, I like lamps, here one by the Arena Birmingham on the Canal.

I have also collected a lot of photos that show the architectural or general muddle that is the city of Birmingham I am calling 'Muddle Earth'

The view from Grand Central on 25th December 2020

In 2020 I uploaded a total of 3,378 photos of Birmingham taken in 2020.

I have a great passion for city photography and love to go on photography visits. I have created many galleries of my photos from these trips, please click below to view.


Below are some examples.

Edinburgh, the Queen's Birthday Gun Salute, taken from Princes Street Gardens on a 300mm lens, April 2016  EDINBURGH GALLERY

Glasgow, September 2018, the view from the Necropolis, but what's a tomb and what's a building in the distance?  GLASGOW GALLERY

Cardiff, August 2017, one of the newly painted red dragons on the ornate obelisks outside City Hall.  CARDIFF GALLERY

Leeds, July 2017, one of the magnificent gold owls at the Civic Hall  LEEDS GALLERY

Paris, November 2011, the view Down the Champs Elysees  PARIS GALLERY

Amsterdam, August 2005, a tram jam in Leidseplein  AMSTERDAM GALLERY

Roma, April 2002, the Ruins of Il Tempio die Dioscuri ROMA GALLERY

Tivoli, April 2002, the Tivoli Gardens  TIVOLI GALLERY

New York City, November 2005, on my best ever birthday, the view north-west from the Empire State Building  NEW YORK CITY GALLERY


Construction & regeneration, Art; Culture & creativity, Photography
PassionFL is neither a DataColumn nor a DataRelation for table .


Your Place Your Space

Daniel Sturley

0121 410 5520