If photographer Dan Martland could point his camera at the remarkable life he has carved for himself since leaving his home in Kirkby, it would make for a spectacular shot.
Gone are the days when, as a college student, he was scrimping and scraping to raise enough beer money for nights out in Mansfield.
Now, 36-year-old Dan is a TV news cameraman with a worldwide reputation, rubbing shoulders with celebrities and living the American dream.
And in his latest project, he has become an Internet sensation for his stunning pictures of New York that have attracted thousands of followers to his Instagram account, via @dantvusa.
Dan has thought nothing about wading into filthy rivers or being crawled on by rats in abandoned buildings to capture unique shots of landmarks in the famous city.
“New York is an amazing place, so gritty and so cool, and it’s a photographer’s dream,” said Dan.
“There’s never a dull moment here, and so many great things to shoot. There’s always something else to discover, and I’m always looking for an angle that no-one has shot before.”
It’s all a far cry from his younger days when a career as a cameraman or snapper was but a distant ambition that started with a media studies course at West Notts College on Chesterfield Road in Mansfield. Dan recalled what he described as ‘fun times’. “While studying, I used to work as a waiter and barman at the old Teversal Grange,” he said.
“With help from contacts at West Notts, I was lucky enough to get some work at weekends, mainly rigging up cables and cameras at football games covered by Sky Sports and BBC for ‘Match Of The Day’. I spent most of my spare time on trains heading to grounds around the country.”
Learning how to operate cameras, Dan left Kirkby, where proud mum and dad Catherine and Derek Martland still live, to live in London, where he bagged a job in the film industry in 1998 - mainly as an assistant on music videos, commercials and films.
“After a few years, I moved to Manchester to work full-time as a cameraman for Manchester United TV,” Dan continued.
“This is where I really learned my craft. They were fun days, shooting games and interviews with the players and even getting to travel with the England team.
“I then worked for Sky News as a live cameraman, based in Manchester but travelling around the country in a satellite truck, chasing the breaking stories.
“However, after two years on the road, ITN London came calling. I have spent the last 12 years there, firstly in the studios working on live shows.
“I also did early-morning live shots for GMTV, which involved a 2am start, not knowing where in the country they would send you.
“Many a morning, I was running down streets with Keith Chegwin, knocking on people’s doors for live breakfast TV!”
Dan’s love affair with the USA began in 2007 when he swapped Cheggers for the Oscars and landed a job for GMTV at their Hollywood/Los Angeles bureau.
“I covered everything showbiz,” he said. “Not only the Oscars but also the Golden Globes and the Emmys. You name it, we did it. Three years of this was amazing, but I was frazzled from all the red carpets and fancied a change!
“So off to New York I went. From GMTV to ‘Daybreak’ and ‘Good Morning Britain’, I have spent the last five years covering all sorts of huge stories -- from the elections in Washington to tornadoes in Oklahoma, the hurricane in New York and the Boston bombings. There has never been a dull moment.”
Dan has now turned freelance, still living in New York, with his American wife Stacey, and still working in TV as a cameraman and editor.
But it’s his ‘hobby’ and ‘passion’ of photography for which his reputation is currently rising as high as one of the city’s many skyscrapers.
“I have always enjoyed taking photographs, but I used to get frustrated at not having an outlet for them,” Dan explained.
“I’d take photos that I really liked but, beyond showing them to my wife, they’d just gather dust on my computer drive.
“I signed up to Instagram four years ago and immediately loved all the filters and tricks you could apply. But it has taken me a long time to build up any kind of following. That’s only happened in the last few months, after leaving ITV. I had more time on my hands and decided to really up my game and find some particularly creative angles and locations.
“That’s when I started getting braver. Wading into the East river, climbing on to rooftops and risking my life on the streets of Manhattan!”
The result is a magnificent collection of photos of New York as you have never seen it before, many taken with his iPhone so they can be uploaded immediately.
He even took one of the Empire State Building while lying on the road in freezing-cold weather one night, with motorists honking their horns as they drove by and pedestrians tut-tutting!
Says his friend and former work colleague Nick Dixon: “He’s mad! He’s going to ridiculous lengths to get photos -- and they are amazing
“He is a great example of a daredevil Brit living the American dream -- and getting some really impressive results in the process.”
The feedback from Dan’s unique insight into New York has been incredible. He now has more than 7,000 followers on Instagram, including celebrities, which has enabled his photos to be showcased and sold.
He claims the secret to his success is patience and waiting for the perfect moment to present itself, sometimes for hours.
“A good shot is something that tells a story without words,” he said.
What a story Dan Martland, local boy made good, has got to tell!