DPP Home Profiles Jeff Dunas: A Man On A Mission

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Jeff Dunas: A Man On A Mission

With a multifaceted career as a photographer, magazine publisher and creator of the Palm Springs Photo Festival, Jeff Dunas constantly strives to advance the art of photography


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Chambre 55, Arles, c. 1990. In addition to his work behind the camera, today Dunas is the driving force behind the Palm Springs Photo Festival, which has quickly established itself as one of the premier events of its kind.

Los Angeles-based photographer, author, publisher, lecturer and photo festival director Jeff Dunas is inspired and, in turn, has inspired countless other photographers. While some photographers guard their techniques and contacts, Dunas shares both on a monumental scale. He wants others to gain from his knowledge and experience. For the past five years, Dunas has built a photo mecca in the California desert, bringing photographers from around the world together for the Palm Springs Photo Festival. The 2010 edition of the festival takes place March 28-April 2. As a photographer, Dunas practices what he preaches at workshops and lectures—the importance of creating your own opportunities and developing your own ideas, not just dropping off a portfolio or sending a website link and waiting for the phone to ring.


Texas Theater, Raymondville, Texas, 1999
Dunas’ early projects focused on creating books of nudes—Captured Women (1982), Mademoiselle, Mademoiselle! (1983) and Voyeur (1984). In more recent years, he has focused on portraits—State of the Blues (Aperture 1998), American Pictures (Konemann & Aperture 2002) and Up Close & Personal (Merrell 2003). An exhibition of his State of the Blues work runs through mid-August at The Muzeo Museum in Anaheim, Calif.

DPP: Where did your efforts to create dialogue amongst photographers come from?

Jeff Dunas:When I was young, photographers as a rule didn’t want to hang out with each other. It was like trying to put two positive magnets together. In general, there weren’t places to go for information. At that time, there were a few workshop programs—Ansel Adams on the West Coast and Alexey Brodovitch having a kind of a brain trust workshop going on the East Coast. But these kinds of things weren’t widely available, so most of the photographers of our generation were self-taught. I probably could have cut five to 10 years off my mastering of techniques or actually becoming aware of what photography could be if there had been more access to sharing ideas. In addition, it’s fun to hang out with people who are in the same game as you are.

DPP: Creating your magazine Collectors Photography in 1985 was your first major step in the dissemination of photographic work and ideas en masse. How did that come about?

Dunas: I felt that there weren’t really any photo magazines at that time running portfolios of extraordinary quality where people could see images that were as close to the real thing as possible. We published 14 issues by the time we ended it in 1988. In the interim, I bought another photography magazine, Darkroom Photography, and changed it into Camera & Darkroom. I’ve always been interested in the technique of photography, and this publication was dedicated to that end.

 

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