“Much of what I create is a collaboration between me and the subject. It is uncomfortable to shoot something that is outside of how I look at the world. Photography has helped me to realize and see what is going on with me internally.”
Dalton Campbell (born in 1980) is a photographer from the USA currently based in Austin, Texas. He’s self-taught when it comes to photography. For Dalton Campbell photography is a form to explore the sensual part of his subjects.
“The work that I am trying to create is meant to be more sensual than sexual. I want the human form to be obviously beautiful without pushing it to be exploitative.”
Interview with Dalton Campbell
Dalton, why did you become a photographer? And what does photography mean to you?
I was craving a creative outlet in my life. I tried to play drums. Gave up, and bought my first camera. The rest is history. Photography allows me to connect and share with people. People give what I do meaning and life. I could care less about landscape, product, and automotive photography. Well, unless it has people in it. Photography does not feel like work to me. It feels like play.
A photographer has many “tools” at hand to bring across his message: lenses, lighting, framing, color treatment etc. Can you elaborate a little bit on the techniques you used for this particular project in order to link form and content? In other words: How would you describe your photographic language and creative process?
My technique is always in a state of flux. I review, analyze, and breakdown the work of other photographers who’s work I adore. Then I try to figure it out apply it and then craft and modify it into my own. I came into photography without any formal training. Thus my knowledge base has been expanded with this process. This process yields a bunch of bad photos. But once it’s worked out, it is with me forever. I like to balance natural light shooting along with studio. I think both are important. My next big push is to bring additive lighting into natural light.
What reaction do you intend to provoke in people looking at you photos?
“I only think about liking the photo myself.”
Oh man, I am not really sure. I really don’t think much about that truthfully. The photos are more about the dialog I have with the people I am shooting. It’s about the collaboration of ideas and emotions. I only think about liking the photo myself. Of course I want others to like them too, but this does not play a part in creating the photos.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
Different photographers have played different roles at different times.
Martin Schoeller: His technical brilliance and ability to create amazing scenes.
Joey L.: His wonderful natural light and additive light photos. Look at Holy Men.
Edwin Tse: His wonderfully feminine portraits.
Of course the list goes on for different reasons.
What’s your favorite inspirational quote about photography?
I don’t really have on. Is that bad?
What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
A Canon 5d Mark 3, 50mm 1.4 lens, 20mm 1.8 lens, 100mm 2.0 lens. A bunch of other small things and studio lighting. I love my prime lenses!
What’s your favorite website about photography?
I have well over 30 book marked, too many to list.
What book about photography would you recommend?
I have never bought one.
Philosopher Susan Sontag once said “The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own”. How has photography changed the way you look at the world and what have you learnt about yourself?
“Photography has helped me to realize and see what is going on with me internally.”
Much of what I create is a collaboration between me and the subject. It is uncomfortable to shoot something that is outside of how I look at the world. Photography has helped me to realize and see what is going on with me internally. Hopefully that makes sense.
Every photographer is going through different stages in his formation. Which “landmarks” do you recall that have marked you and brought you to the place where you are today as a photographer?
The first and most important was the first time I shot at 1.8 lens. I was not hooked until then. Everything changed after that. The second was shooting with studio lighting. Once I controlled light, I then could mold it to my design.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to get started with photography?
Just do it, throw yourself completely into. Follow what gives you energy. For me it’s about connection with people. I then use photographic techniques to combine our emotions.
Last but not least, let’s switch roles: Which question would you have liked to be asked in this interview about your work that I didn’t ask? Please feel free to add it – as well as the answer.
Q: What aspect of photography gives you energy?
“I only do things that give me energy. I push the opposite out of my life. This is how I stay happy.”
A: I tend to evaluate both people and situations on a scale of energy. Take for instance you work for a job. You get off of that job how do you feel? After a shoot I am pumped. Typically I edit photos the same day of the shoot because it gives me energy. I can’t help it; it’s a natural expression. It also works with people. When you hang out with people that drain you of energy, or the opposite. Being aware of how those experiences change your energy. I only do things that give me energy now. I push the opposite out of my life. This is how I stay happy. If taking pictures of mountains give you a buzz. Do that! Follow those instincts.