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Jesse Dittmar’s Overexposed Celebrity Portraits

The portrait photographer on how he found his signature style
Michael K Williams
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, AUGUST 16, 2021. Award winning Actor Michael K Williams, who is nominated for an Emmy for his work in “Lovecraft Country” is seen at his home in Brooklyn, NY. 08/16/2021 Photo by Jesse Dittmar / For The Times

Celebrity portrait photographer Jesse Dittmar found his signature style by accident. In the early days of his career, while building his portfolio and photographing as many friends and acquaintances as possible, he overexposed a frame by 5 stops. He assumed that the film would end up in the trash, but he was pleasantly surprised. 

“I developed it half-heartedly and expected nothing,” he says. “Suddenly, a mistake turned into something I loved, and from this shoot forward, I had a style and voice that I knew was mine.” 

He’s been intentionally overexposing rolls of film on his trusty Hasselblad 500C ever since—capturing some of the world’s most familiar faces along the way. He creates the work while he’s on assignment, and although he shoots digitally, he always brings one roll of film along. He delivers his film frames along with his digital shots, and says that it’s not unusual for the client to select them for the final product. 

“I love the look, the feel, the analog process,” he says. “And the mood it puts my sitter in.” 


He’s collected some of his favorite overexposed frames in a beautiful coffee table book called OverexposedHere he shares the stories behind a few of his favorites. 

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