Friday, June 8, 2007
Jody Dole - Everything Old Is New Again
Jody Dole strikes a creative balance between using any tool and technique—old and new—to help him get the shot
When most commercial photographers discuss their transition from film to digital, they usually explain how they resisted at first. Then, over the course of a few years, they begin experimenting with the equipment and finally realize all it had to offer. The story usually ends with how they're now shooting almost everything digitally, but they occasionally use film when they're feeling nostalgic.
With Jody Dole, that story unfolds a bit differently. His exploration of digital technology occurred not around the turn of the 21st century, but more than a decade ago. He began to experiment with new equipment before the term “digital photography” had even been coined. He was, in fact, one of the first photographers in America to use a digital camera.
“The fact is that I got started in digital photography early, simply out of curiosity,” Dole says. “I was just going along and doing my thing with the digital camera because I thought it was very interesting.”
It intrigued him enough to invest thousands of dollars in equipment—from scanners to cameras to printers. His friends thought he was crazy; few others knew what to make of it.
“I got the first version of Photoshop on a Macintosh computer in 1990. I was showing it to my rep at the time, and he looked at this thing, and it was literally like I threw a carpet on the floor and it levitated him. When you see that for the first time...it was as fascinating for me as the first time I ever saw a print come up in the developer. It was like magic. My agent saw what I was doing in Photoshop, and he left my studio like a leprechaun clicking his heels, running down the street.
“A few days later, I got a phone call from a client at an ad agency in New York, and she said, ‘Hey, Jody, I heard you're getting out of the business.' I said, ‘Excuse me, I just got into the business.' She said, ‘Your rep said you were opening a photo shop, and I was just curious where it was going to be.'
Slowly, the rest of the world began to catch up with Jody Dole, but it wasn't overnight. Back in the dark ages of digital, he faced the early-adopter problem of working with tools that weren't widely understood.
“We were sending my portfolios out on CD, and people were calling me up, saying that it wouldn't play in their stereo,” he explains. “I had a website up before there were HTML browsers, so nobody could see it. People had heard I was making Iris prints, and when they looked at my portfolio, they were wondering where the pictures of the irises were.”