Wednesday, May 23, 2007
On The Set With Douglas Dubler
Creating a cover image for a major magazine, Douglas Dubler accepts no compromises
As a beauty photographer for the last three decades, my obsession has been for ultra-high quality in the images I create. When film ruled, my primary tool was a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II fitted with a Mamiya 210mm APO lens and Fujichrome Astia film. That combination gave me the sharpest image with the most neutral skin tones possible. I only needed to be attentive to the color temperature and to use the most consistent lab available, and I could be completely confident of the results when I pressed the shutter button. For years, this was my gold standard for producing hundreds of magazine covers and cosmetic ads.
Enter the digital age. An early adopter of digital technology, I've used digital capture regularly for more than seven years now. In that time, I've seen an impressive progression—from the old 6-megapixel digital backs to the soon-to-be-delivered 33-plus-megapixel backs. Because some clients still ask for film and because I like to keep my film skills well-honed, it's my custom to shoot film regularly, but it has been my preference to shoot digital for some years.
I wanted to create an image for the Digital Photo Pro cover that would begin with a strong creative concept and I wanted the capture to be digital. It all must begin with the image because, after all is said and done, that's where it ends. For me, beauty and perfection must always seem to be tugging at one another. Having decided on a concept, the next phase was to round up the talent to produce it. Being a creature of habit, I utilized my most familiar and trusted resources.
For my model, I chose one of my favorites, Elodie Pass, who always adds that extra something to the image by bringing her own interpretation to bear. The styling was inspired by a fashion accessory I shot several years ago designed by Nico & Adrian. I've wanted to revisit this piece for some time with a higher-quality digital back. In addition to their fashion success, these designers have become producers for Condé Nast Publications. They were most obliging in providing me with their latest version of the work of art—a fabulous collar made out of peacock feathers, which have been stripped of their decorative color and redone in New York's favorite color, black.
As a design contrast, my makeup artist, Sylvia Pichler, constructed a delicate jigsaw pattern, which she painstakingly applied to Elodie's face with adhesive. (The process took about 31⁄2 hours.) As a decorative accent, I contrasted the various textures with several pieces of custom-designed jewelry from my good friend, Kuki Seth, of Parulina Jewelry here in New York. For me, minimalism rules, so the final creative and styling decisions were made accordingly and ready to be captured on the chip. Let's not forget the chip.…
For this photograph, I was able to get my hands on a new digital back from Leaf, the Aptus 75. It's a 33-megapixel back that gives me a nearly 200 MB file in 16-bit—quite impressive. I happen to be of the school of thought that believes the more data you have, the closer you get to a step-less analog curve. It's that beautiful three-dimensional presence that I seek in a digital back—a quality that can't be measured by digital data or quantified by computer geeks. Like being love-struck, you just know when it's all there! It's truly the space between art and science, the art being the more elusive. That presence always has been my focus.