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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Douglas Dubler: Fine Art & Commerce

Douglas Dubler brings an artist’s sensibilities to every job he gets

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Dubler explains further that relationships with manufacturers, clients and talent all play a critical role in creating a beautiful print. “I use Broncolor flash equipment and have been doing so for 40 years, and that’s all I use. I have a personal relationship with Claude and Jacques Bron. It’s a family-run business, and I like that. Their equipment is head and shoulders above everyone else’s in terms of color temperature, consistency and recycling times—it’s just the best.”

Dubler goes on to illustrate the power of relationships by explaining that, “in the analog days, I was joined at the hip to my dye-transfer retoucher who was the best in New York—Diane Scott. My current retoucher, Willie, has been working with me for more than a decade. He has a unique technique, which imparts a sense of transparency, translucency and moisture to his beauty retouching. This is an integral part of my ‘beauty’ aesthetic. Several years ago, I had occasion to revisit the photographs I made for the Elite Model calendar for 1986. I wanted to make prints for my 25-year retrospective, but after examining the retouched 8x10 transparencies, I decided to rescan the original 2¼ transparencies and have Willie retouch them using 2007 technology. The difference was like night and day! So much so, that I decided to do the complete set of 24 images again. Once I see ‘better,’ I can never go back!

“If you’re a beauty photographer, you have to have a long set of relationships in order to be successful,” Dubler adds. “It takes time to build those relationships, build trust and establish great lines of communication. My makeup artist, Sylvia Pichler, applies makeup with an airbrush. She was one of the first makeup artists to use this technique for beauty applications. We find that changes can be made more quickly and precisely than with traditional methods. We’ve been working together for more than 15 years. Before her, during my analog/film days, the makeup artist David Frank Ray and I worked together for 16 years.”

Today, Dubler wants to hire the best and give them the room to work, “because they’re artists, too,” he says. “I don’t like being micromanaged by the client, so I’m not going to micromanage the people that work with me. Granted, if I don’t like what they’re producing, I’ll tell them and direct them toward my vision. What’s great about working digital is that everything that we work on as a team comes up on the screen while we’re shooting. If things aren’t going right, we can work as a team to solve the problem quickly and efficiently. Digital tools can either be a curse or blessing; if you don’t have good taste and cannot make up your mind, it’s going to be hell. But if you do have good taste and can make up your mind, you can get the shot much more quickly and efficiently.”

In the end, it boils down to simplicity of insight and execution for Douglas Dubler. “Tight beauty is what I do,” he says. “I try to carve a little niche out for myself in the marketplace that I own. I’m not interested in being everywhere in the industry. I’m interested in creating a picture that’s beautiful, has a realistic skin tone—crisp highlights, ultrasmooth transitions with high dynamic range—and is of high production value. And if you want that kind of look, then I might be the only guy in town who can make that for you.”

To see more of Douglas Dubler’s photography, visit www.douglasdubler3.com.


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