Friday, June 8, 2007
Douglas Dubler - Inspiration, Execution, Observation
Douglas Dubler is the kind of pro who likes to have complete control over his work. He operates in an environment of tight schedules and highly demanding results.
The extraordinary level of control that's possible in this sort of digital workflow has meant that the days of an occasional “happy accident” are in the past. We've all had situations when something strange happened while we were shooting, and when the film came back, we were greeted with a completely unintended and unexpected, but wonderful result. Says Dubler, “I was doing a shoot with some complicated lighting once. As we were making exposures, one set of strobes wasn't firing. By the time we noticed, I had made about six exposures, and when the film came back, those photographs had a very dramatic silhouette effect. In the end, we used those images.”
A digital workflow doesn't often yield that kind of serendipity. Adds Dubler, “I'll miss some of those accidents, but the time savings of my digital workflow gives me much more freedom to experiment. That's something I didn't have with film. Because I build an image step by step when shooting digitally, I end up working very efficiently. I end up with much more time and opportunity to try experimental things.”
That kind of experimentation gets to the core advantage of digital for Dubler. “I'm in a continuously evolving learning curve. I never get stale.”
For a glimpse at how Dubler works, there's the story of the ad campaign he recently shot for Epson.
Under certain circumstances, a blank piece of paper can appear adversarial in nature. If one is responsible for coming up with a brilliant new concept to sell the latest and greatest product, staring at a blank page becomes daunting after a while. Some relish the opportunity to visually define an idea in a new and original way; others run for the stock books.
When Epson America went looking for a photographer to illustrate the advertising campaign for their latest generation desktop printer, they turned to Dubler for his reputation as one of the more visually adventurous fashion and beauty shooters working today.
The project presented challenges on several fronts. First, Dubler and his team had to create images strong enough to stand out as individuals, yet also exist as part of a quartet of related images. If the images weren't eye-catching, the rest of the concept wouldn't matter. Secondly, the images had to contain a wide range of color, tone and contrast levels to enable the new printer to strut its stuff. Lastly, but no less important, the resulting prints had to be capable of standing up to close encounters with critical eyes. The goal is to sell printers, and a drop-dead gorgeous print in the hand says far more than a blizzard of promos.
Working in concert with Epson, Dubler came up with the idea of using winter, spring, summer and fall as a four-part visual thread. Each shot would combine a beautiful girl and stunning backgrounds, along with hair and makeup far beyond the scope of what one would dare to wear on your average job interview.
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