Capturing Time With Photographs
By Bill Dobbins
Here is a learning method I recommend to aspiring photographers. Take a book of photos you like, or a magazine layout or perhaps some images you have downloaded from the Internet. Use these as art director sketches and try to shoot photos that look like the ones you have selected. In the vast majority of cases, you photos will not look that much like the samples. The light will be different, the location, the model – and there is the fact that your own eye may not see things like the photographer whose work you are using as a starting point. But this is a tremendous exercise in introducing new elements and ideas into your own work.
Many years ago I did this using a book of photos by Jeff Dunas called Captured Women. I partnered with a professional model who wanted more portfolio photos and we shot at a pool and by the beach. I found having a Dunas photo as a starting point allowed me to explore new ideas in my own photography. However, if you looked at his image and mine side by side you could see where the inspiration came from – but my pictures really didn’t look like his. I was being inspired, not trying to make an exact copy.
I chose a book by Jeff Dunas because I really liked and admired his work. He was ahead of me in his own creative arc because he had been shooting photos for much of the time I was working as a professional musician in my younger years. I had some catching up to do, and using these photos as an art director sketch helped accelerate my evolution as a photographer.
It is not difficult to admire the photography of Jeff Dunas – although in more recent years he has more claim to fame than just shooting pictures. He is an American photographer whose work spans five decades. His work has appeared in hundreds of magazines, album covers, books and calendars. Dunas’ principal areas of work have included nudes, documentary, celebrity portraiture and street photography. He is the author of eight monographs and five museum catalogues. As an entrepreneur, he founded Melrose Publishing Company & Collector’s Editions, Ltd.; launched, edited and published Collectors Photography magazine as well as Darkroom Photography (later Camera & Darkroom). Dunas founded the Palm Springs Photo Festival in 2006 and the Official Portfolio Review at PhotoPlus Expo in 2010. In 2014, he produced & directed PhotoSynthesis, a photography & music festival in Los Angeles for the Annenberg Foundation. He work has been shown in 12 one-person museum exhibitions and over 50 gallery exhibitions. Dunas has lived between Los Angeles and Paris, France since 1974.
“The idea that capturing time with photographs has always held me,” says Jeff Dunas. “The only way to capture time is with photographs – photos, film, or whatever. Photographing women, photographing people, documentary photos or street pictures particularly, it’s a moment and then it’s gone. And if you have the perception to recognize this moment is about to happen you can be there and document it and preserve it in time.”
“I feel like this is an important thing to be doing. I’m not going to just leave this earth having been here and gone. If anyone ever bothers to look at the work that I’ve done they are going to be teleported back into time into these moments that I was able to capture.”
According to photoworkshop.com, “Jeff Dunas says he was born to make photographs. Picking up his first camera when he was 10, that may be true. Whether it’s in fact an innate talent or an insatiable passion to create unforgettable images of unforgettable people, he has managed to bring the celebrity’s world into the world of photography. Too often, famous people overwhelm the camera, and we’re unable to ‘see’ the photographer.”
One result of the power of celebrity can be unaesthetic portraits with no personality – actors with no roles, musicians with no beats or rhythms. Dunas, on the other hand, captures the person behind the mask of celebrity.
Dunas has nine published books (11 if you count soft cover versions, 20 if you count foreign editions).
He has over 30 years of professional experience under his wing and his subjects include names you might recognize like Anthony Hopkins, Cameron Diaz, Billy Bob Thornton, Buddy Guy, Oliver Stone, Gena Rowlands, James Coburn, Jeff Bridges, Kate Winslet, Robert Duvall, Greg Allman, Fiona Apple, Salma Hayek – too many others to name.
Over twenty years ago he realized that he could pursue his own creative and artistic visions and still put food on the table. He began focussing his energy on his personal projects, making the pictures he wanted to make. Rather than view it as a profession, he started taking the pictures he wanted to take. He describes his book Up Close & Personal as a “photographic exploration of the ephemeral and intangible qualities that have led to the fame possessed by my subjects.” This seems to lead to the photographs themselves becoming ephemeral, and yet paradoxically memorable at the same time.
In his role as director, Dunas is also actively involved running the annual Palm Springs Photo Festival, a six day event being held this year from 5th May to 10th May 2019 in Palm Springs, California. This event allows professional, emerging professional & serious advanced amateur photographers to study with legendary photographers, show portfolios in our celebrated Portfolio Review Program, check out the latest gear, attend cutting-edge Seminars, Symposiums, networking events and enjoy Evening Presentations by world famous image-makers.
JEFF DUNAS WEBSITE
Is A Sponsor Of the Palm Springs Photo Festival
Bill Dobbins is a pro photographer located in Los Angeles. He is a veteran photographer and videographer who has exhibited his fine art in two museums and a number of galleries and who has published eight books, including two fine art photo books:
The Women: Photographs of The Top Female Bodybuilders (Artisan)
Modern Amazons (Tashen)
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