The Dallas Observer has recently been collaborating with a team of videographers known as Exploredinary. (Perhaps you've seen this video they made about a party store in Oak Cliff selling Donald Trump piñatas, or this one about Leon Bridges.) We thought it appropriate to tell you a little bit more about this creative outfit run by visual artists Sarah Reyes and Daniel Driensky, whose work extends well beyond video.
Driensky and Reyes have backgrounds in photography and architectural design, which they've parlayed into an eccentric collection of projects including videography, photography, murals, sculpture, jewelry design and more. Whether you spot them at Cultivar grabbing coffee or at an underground play, you can be sure they'll have their cameras in hand, ready to capture the city from all angles.
They've shot pictures from helicopters, the stages of indie rock shows and at high society benefits. Their travel photography, which began as a hobby, has led to an interminable string of arts-related jobs, which is what prompted them to start Exploredinary a year ago. As Exploredinary they've been commissioned by organizations such as the Deep Ellum Foundation, which funds the area's public-service projects.
The project for the Deep Ellum Foundation involved making banners that were placed along Elm Street. "We always try to challenge ourselves, so we made them out of paper collage," Driensky says. They've also been invited to photograph the ventures of Oscar Mayer's Wienermobile around Chicago. "Sometimes we'll be doing a huge sculptural piece for a restaurant, the next week we're doing a video, and the next a mural," Reyes says.
Driensky was born and raised in Dallas, the son of prolific event photographer Dana Driensky. "I got into photography as a profession out of necessity, because he needed a second hand. Now he's in all the publications beside me. It's pretty cool," Driensky says.
Driensky has photographed famous subjects including the Dalai Lama. He says that when an upscale hotel asked him to come photograph a secret special guest and requested his social security number for a background check, he initially thought he'd be photographing President Obama. The hotel instructed him to get candid shots of the spiritual leader as he walked through the lobby, but Driensky seized the opportunity to request a portrait.
"He stops and poses and smiles really big for me, and after about 10 shots this lady goes, 'OK, that's enough.' He never was upset, he just bows to me and leaves, and that was the greatest moment," Driensky says.
Driensky was established in his photography career by the time he met Reyes in 2012. Reyes, then an architectural designer and aspiring artist, had been invited by a friend to a showing of Driensky's narrative portraits. They had a dull first-date conversation about numerology, but she looked past it and now they're personally and professionally inseparable.
Reyes grew up in Mansfield, Texas. Her parents, both educators, were immigrants from Guatemala. "They always engrained this mentality to explore, they were finding new things here and exploring the culture," she says. "They taught me how to be really creative and very resourceful."
Reyes' parents had expectations that she'd earn a professional degree, instead of an arts one. "So I thought, 'I'm really good at math, I'm really good at art, so I should do architecture,'" Reyes says. She received a bachelors's degree, but dropped out three times in the course of getting her masters.
Reyes sought out the greatest architects working today, and visited their offices in L.A. and New York, but found the career uninspiring. "Everybody there looked miserable, so tired and so broke," she says. During a break from school Reyes says she spent a month reading philosophy and came to the realization that, "the job that I wanted didn't exist, I had to go out there and make it happen." Soon after that, she quit architecture.
Driensky and Reyes, who have an artists' residency through Nationstar — yes, the mortgage company — say they won't so much as visit a grocery store without bringing a camera. What if they encounter a majestic sunset, or as happened recently, a loose squirrel tail? "That's truly where our name comes from, we explore the ordinary, and make it extraordinary," Driensky says.
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This discipline led to an opportunity to photograph one of their idols, artist Wayne White, before his documentary premiered at SXSW. "Nobody else thought to bring a camera," they say.
And Reyes still puts her architecture skills to use, often employing laser cutter equipment used to produce building models to create 3-D versions of Driensky's drawings, which they use as props in pictures and videos.
Exploredinary's latest endeavor is purely for pleasure: They've been making video portraits of their friends. The idea came after watching a couple in New York break up in public. "The idea appealed to me, these simple moments, the theater of life," Reyes says. "It's an infatuation with really normal people."
As Driensky's and Reyes' aesthetics blend harmoniously, so do their industrious work ethics. "We're extremely competitive," Reyes says, laughing. "We try to do our own thing and surprise the other."