Daniel C. White, 39, grew up in Oklahoma and moved to Nashville in 1998, with his wife to be a tour manager for country music artist. Now some 16 years later, with two boys, Nolan, 9, and Parker, 6, Daniel said he feels like he’s just getting started at life.
From the mountains of Africa to the villages of India, the humanitarian and photographer has traveled all over the world, meeting people and culture as well as exploring relationships and countries.
“There are just no borders because everything that I’ve built in my career is really just my life,” he said. “I couldn’t do anything without the community that I’ve always lived in.”
A jack-of-all-trades, Daniel has never been a person who defines himself by a single thing. Instead, he said over time he’s come to solely define himself as a creative relationship person.
Growing up, Daniel’s grandparents were a huge influence on him. They encouraged him to do what he loved and always told him character before anything else.
In his teenage years, he would always go to their auctions and that’s when he started to sell collectable baseball cards.
“I was about to turn 16 when I bought my first car with selling a 1956 Mickey Mantle baseball card,” he said. “I was always doing something that involved relationships with people and trust.”
Right after high school, Daniel did missions work in India for a little less than a year. When he returned to the United States he met his wife Lindsay at college then moved to Nashville to work in the music industry.
“I spent a lot of time in between Nashville and Los Angeles,” he said. “It was a dream gig in my early twenties. I was working at various labels and management companies and radio stations. I was a booking agent for several years and I did that type of work all the way up until 2008.”
Around then, Daniel began helping with leading the entertainment division of Food for the Hungry, a nonprofit organization expanding 26 developing countries working to pull communities out of poverty.
Now, he works with musicians, artist, authors, organizations, bloggers and people of influence that have a heart and a passion for making a difference around the globe through their platform.
By integrating their platform with fundraising and storytelling, they are able to fund overseas projects.
“It’s come full circle since I’ve spent time in India doing mission work and humanitarian efforts to now, 16 plus year in the music business, all of those elements coming together,” he said. “It’s incredible.”
Daniel goes on tours in developing countries and has the opportunity to connect artist with people across the world that they would have not met before.
“I’m walking artist into these new worlds that they’ve never seen before and only heard of. Now they get to see and meet the people in these communities and understand that we’re all really not that much different. We’re just born in a different geographic location,” he said.
Just recently, Daniel returned from a tour he took with the retail company Lululemon, as they are partnering to build water treatment centers in the Dominican Republic through fundraising efforts in local stores Nashville.
Daniel said it’s all about connecting people and connecting life and helping them lock arms so they can learn from each other and live life together.
STORIES THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY
About 5 years ago, Daniel started leading trips to developing countries.
“A lot of times, photographers weren’t always available because of the places we’d go and the amount of people we took so I started taking a camera and one thing lead to another,” he said.
Daniel started getting calls for commercial photography and does that in addition to his humanitarian work with Food for the Hungry.
With him, it’s not just taking photos. He said he approaches both his commercial and international photography as storytelling.
“There’s more of a depth to what I do than just taking pictures with a camera,” he said. “The stories are in the hearts and the eyes that you see. It’s in the depths and the souls of people. It’s in the dignity of the people that I share and protect, and it only makes me more passionate to tell those stories in an authentic way and not in a contrived product driven way.”
He said it’s neat how both photography and storytelling sharpen each other.
“It’s a weird dichotomy and it’s a ton of fun but I don’t sleep much,” he said.
“For years I wish I honed in on one thing and did it well but fast-forward now to my late 30s and I’m going, ‘that’s what makes me, me.’”
“I love getting to know people and I love getting connected to people and it’s always been that way. I could not have ever imagined the places that I’ve traveled and the people that I’ve been able to meet along the way and with the amazing people in my life, the things we are able to accomplish together. Sometimes when the years fly by and I look back I’m like, ‘where did that year go?’ Then I look at the things that I was humbled and honored to be a part of, and I’m baffled because I never saw it coming.”
Even with all the things he’s accomplished in his life with doing what he loves, Daniel said it’s the moments when struggles and hardships hit, that have made him who he is today.
“A mentor in my life once said, ‘It’s not the struggles in your life that define who you are as a person, it’s how you respond to them.’ I’ve now learned to embrace those moments because it’s in those moments that you have the potential to see who you are and what you’re made of.”
Daniel said people are like living bacteria walking around just looking for the right elements in the petri dish that help them grow and become who they were really meant to be. Without the right elements in the dish, people become stifled or stagnant until they get around the right atmosphere, elements, people and personalities that make them fully come to life.
“And sometimes it takes time and failures, bad decisions and a lot of different things to find those elements and to find those right things,” he said.
COMMUNITY and CONCERN
Daniel resides in Franklin and loves the big city as much as the small towns around it.
“There’s such a large sense of energy, and the entertainment aspect of things like friends working together and making a difference together,” he said. “There’s such a Southern culture here but it doesn’t get so stuck in that. There’s still a real business sense of going forward. It’s not a stagnant community at all.”
He defines a community as a group of likeminded people with very different backgrounds and very different cultures but all heading in the same direction. He said community is also giving more than you take.
Daniel said something that took him a while to learn was to be slow to speak and quick to listen. He said he doesn’t believe people are ever above learning and there’s so much to learn from different people just in our community.
“I think we need to be just as willing to be able to learn from our community as we are to teach in our community,” he said.
Daniel said in the United States people have a tendency to live in garage doors communities, meaning they pull into their garage, shut the door behind them and go into their house.
“When I go to Africa or Bolivia or places like that, the homes are so small that you have to be outside. There, you’re forced to live in community and everyone looks out for one another,” he said.
Recently, he began to notice more neighborhoods turning into communities.
“A neighborhood is a block of homes and a mixtures of lots,” he said. “A community is a neighborhood built on people of personalities and lives. It’s going beyond the home and integrating your lives with others. I think that’s when community is its finest.”
He said areas like 12 South, East Nashville, Franklin and other areas popping up are good because it takes a big city and puts it into smaller communities of likeminded people. He said because of that, it creates a subculture bringing people together in a more tight-knit fashion. He said it’s similar to what he sees overseas, and he’s inspired by it.
“We have an opportunity to really impact the people around us and make people feel more comfortable in our neighborhoods. It’s a lot easier to call someone across the street when you really need something so to be able to have that, especially for my family, is key.”
Daniel said it took a while for him to get to know people when he first moved to Nashville. At first he questioned if people were being nice because that’s how people in the South are or if they really cared about him.
He said his hope is that Nashville will not only be the fastest growing city and an amazing community but also the most authentic city that truly cares about people first.
“People should be confident enough in who they are and what their expectations are but also be driven by making good decisions to grow and inspire the community,” he said.
TURNING OFF and SLOWING DOWN
Daniel said his family doesn’t get to see him as much of either of them would like, but he said missing them teaches him to be more intentional when he’s with the people that he loves.
“Sometimes I have a hard time turning off, and sometimes it brings anxiety.”
He said the slight anxiety or nervousness in handling a lot of projects at once is a little bit of a good thing because it keeps him aware of what’s important, his priorities, how it all fits together.
“Opportunity can feed your passions and all the things you want to do, but it can also swallow you. It’s a double-edged sword and cuts through many things.”
Daniel said the most important thing to him right now is spending time with his family.
“I’ve been gone this last year so it’s time for me to slow down a little bit and be more present at home,” he said.
“We live in a culture where opportunity and relationships are endless and it’s important for us to not only capitalize but to move and serve those things that are before us to not miss out on those inspirational moment, and that’s what I live my life by.
Thanks for reading Nashville!
Every Thursday at noon Neat Nashville embraces the community by highlighting an individual in a feature article that tells their story and voices their concerns about the city moving forward. It is our hope to inspire good change locally, to be a force of unity, and support the people we all call neighbors.
It starts with community. It starts where you are.