“I think a photograph is one of the best ways to inspire someone to travel,” admitted photographer Dan Tom.

Dan doesn’t like a lot of attention. He’s one of those people who is much more comfortable behind the camera, out of the picture, composing the shot, rather than in it himself.

Being a photographer just fits his personality.

Nine years ago, Dan traveled to South Africa on a mission trip with his church group and was tasked with documenting the journey. With his point-and-shoot camera, he took photos of the volunteers, the children in the orphanage, and the environment. He started to realize what made a good photo.

Back in Los Angeles, Dan got his first SLR camera and started documenting his life. He’d capture the food he ate, the people he hung out with, the places he went, the streets he walked on — there was always something interesting to shoot.

He created an Instagram account and got his first iPhone. Slowly, he started to edit his pictures. He discovered a few helpful apps on his phone and used other Instagram accounts for inspiration, always wondering how people got their photos to look certain ways. Over time, he gained a following.

Dan keeps things simple. His photos aren’t “minimal,” per se, but they tend to have a main focus or subject. He wants you to feel something when you see his work.

Now that he’s a photographer — and he does consider himself a photographer now, though he still works full-time as a graphic designer — Dan sees things differently. He’s observant, always noticing the little things. He’s aware of composition, color, and light in a way he never was before. He’s also become more of a morning person.

He also understands that the thing he’s passionate about most can actually become his career one day. He hopes to keep traveling — to keep documenting the world around him — until it’s his full-time job.

“It’s important to broaden your experience and grow as a person,” Dan said. “Because that will all have an impact on your photos and the way you see the world.”

See more of Dan’s photos on Instagram.