Danny Hastings is the math-major-turned-photographer behind several of everyone’s favorite rap album covers. Initially inspired by his photojournalist uncle, by the time Hastings was 16 he was heading to New York with a camera permanently attached to him. He started by taking photos of his friends in high school and then between classes at Hunter College. When he got his first printing job at a photo lab in Greenwich Village, he suddenly had everything he needed to make a career out of his passion.
Although you certainly couldn’t do this today, Hastings got his first clients by going door to door at record labels with his portfolio. His big break came when he got an assignment to do a shoot for House of Pain in 1992. His first album cover was for KRS-One’s Return of the Boom Bap. From here, Hastings shot Nas’ I Am…, Wu Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), and so many more. However, Danny’s best work doesn’t lie only in album covers. His photography has captured essence of Ice Cube, the crazy in Eminem, and the cool in Fat Joe. Danny Hastings left his mark on the rap world by creating, as he would say, a “visualization of hip-hop.”
His first music video was with rap artist Mos Def, and slowly transitioned to video projects after making it big in photography. Some of his biggest projects include music videos for Wu Tang Clan’s New Wu, Prince Royce’s Darte Un Beso, Gerardo Ortiz’s Damaso, and multiple videos for Nickelodeon Latin America’s hit show Grachi. As well as music videos, he has done branded content with DraftKings and football star Rob Gronkowski, and a NASCAR promotion for Hispanic Heritage Month.
In 2014, Hastings started the annual Official Latino Short Film Festival to give opportunities to young latinx filmmakers. In addition, he has his two feature films under his belt which he wrote and directed, The Love Potion (2010) and most recently Venus de Macho which is currently in post-production.
Hastings enjoys teaching and passing on his knowledge to other young artists, and will continue to do so in every project he takes on.