Douglas is a good friend of mine who was the driving force behind my successful Printing Series and eBook. Click here to see my printing series article about him, and you can read his latest bio at the end of this article.
In Douglas’ Own Words
The most successful photographs have at least three things in common. They are, and not necessarily in order of importance; concept, technique, and execution.
Last week I attended an Indonesian festival celebration in New York City with my Balinese friend, Tjokorda Gde Arsa Artha. The Indonesian Consulate General on 68th Street between Madison and 5th Avenue had the block closed to traffic and had food and craft vendors selling their wares to the public.
With my friend Gde’s guidance and contacts we were able to enter the Indonesian embassy where they were about to begin a “fashion” show with exotic Indonesian beauties dressed in their colorful ethnic costumes.
The first thing that caught my eye was the bright 3 P.M. sun backlighting these large pieces of red fabric that were serving as curtains for the fashion show. I quickly had my friend’s son Dalem Arsa Artha stand in front of the curtain and I did a portrait of him. The red background was like a large backlit transparency which reminded me of a technique I used in the studio years ago creating backgrounds using front and rear projection screens which gave me saturation and color palette impossible to achieve with the standard choice of seamless papers. It quickly became one of my trademarks.
Fast forward to last week. Being a beauty photographer, I immediately began looking at the 20 or so girls and women for a beautiful and interesting subject. One woman in particular, Chitra Irawan, caught my attention with the combination of her colorful costume, elaborate beaded veil and beautifully reserved demeanor. I had my Friend Gde approach her and ask her if she would pose for me. She agreed and quickly told me she had no experience as a model. I knew I would only have a few minutes to try and get a good shot. Her connection with the camera would make or break the shot. Somewhat of a tall order to expect from a non-professional.
I had her stand directly in front of the red curtain which was still backlit by full sunlight. On my Sony A7II 24MP camera I attached my superb Zeiss 100mm f2 lens via the Novoflex adapter. I set the aperture to f4 to give me about one inch or so of depth of field at the distance I was at. I used the “focus peaking” feature on the camera to ascertain that just the beads were sharp and let her face and eyes go slightly soft. I gave her a minimum of direction but she understood perfectly and in this shot gave me just the “right” look. Instinctively I knew I had the shot.
The whole process took about 15 minutes at most. I took exactly 23 exposures and every one was focused precisely where the yellow “marching ants” indicated. Remember I was doing this with a manual focus lens. With the IBIS camera stabilization and a shutter speed of 1/60 sec., I still had no problem capturing razor sharp images. Something I have never been able to do with a DSLR. Within 5 minutes the sun had gone behind some clouds and the”red” background was no more.
As an aside comment to photographers who are complaining about Sony’s compressed raw file I say get a life and take some pictures! I pushed this file .17 of a stop, not the 5 or 6 stops that apparently produces the digital artifacts that the “pixel peepers” are seeing. I come from an analog background where my typical film push was +1/8 stop. So slight that only one lab in New York City could do it. So to me +5 or whatever is incomprehensible.
To conclude, the success of this photo is tied to my many past experiences over forty years as a photographer. When I find myself in a new situation, I usually use as a point of reference/departure one of those experiences or a combination of them. I generally make creative decisions very quickly and for the most part edit in the camera.
The lighting for me is always number one. I can’t make it in Photoshop. Next, the right choice of lens and aperture. The Zeiss 100mm f2 has that holy grail of sharpness and beautiful bokeh that you can’t get from any other lens (except my favorite Zeiss 135mm f2 APO Sonnar). Next, the perfect composition.
And last and most important, the connection with your model/subject. Without that all of the above is for naught. Of the 23 captures this is the only one with this feeling. Some people might say that I was lucky…
Color managed by X-Rite Photo software.
About Douglas Dubler
Douglas Dubler is a fashion and beauty photographer who seamlessly joins craft and creativity to produce some of the most memorable images in editorial, advertising and fine art photography. Dubler has been able to achieve this union by synthesizing right and left brain thinking. His early training in Fine and Liberal Arts at Boston University enriched him with an articulate sense of form, color, and composition. Initial experiences as a plastic sculptor and silk screen artist instilled in him a great respect for the craft and workmanship necessary to create fine art, and produced the dedication to detail that appears in his work as a photographer. Early mentors in his creative life were Ansel Adams and Isamu Noguchi.
Dublerʼs professional photographic career began in the late ʻ60ʼs in California and the Virgin Islands where he photographed underwater life. Seeking dry ground, he made the transition to studio photography in the early ʻ70ʼs. In 1976 his desire for commercial success drew him to Los Angeles where he began to specialize in fashion and beauty photography. During this period Douglas was mentored by renowned fashion photographer Neal Barr with whom he has maintained a decades long friendship. Working primarily with major motion picture studios, Douglas photographed celebrities and subsequently obtained cosmetic assignments from Max Factor and Redken Laboratories. In addition he also began working as a photographic consultant and special photographer on feature films.
Access to European editorial markets and major cosmetic accounts lured Douglas to New York in 1982. His editorial assignments brought him primarily to Italy where he spent extensive amounts of time working for Amica, Lei, and Italian Vogue. His celebrity editorial clients include Jacqueline Bisset, Jane Fonda, Shirley MacLaine, Dolly Parton, Brooke Shields, Andie MacDowell and Sharon Stone.
Dublerʼs innovative techniques and his consistent ability to reproduce accurate, pleasing skin tones with minimal retouching has produced a client list of major cosmetic companies including Max Factor, Revlon, Clairol, Coty, Redken, Avon, Charles of the Ritz, Sally Hansen, and Alexandra de Markoff. His commercial successes have been recognized by the industry with awards from the Starch Report, Communication Arts, Art Directors Club and Clio.
For the past decade, Douglas has been working as a creative director/ photographer for the majority of his clients. Prompted by his desire to be involved at the conceptual phase of a project, he finds the challenge more fulfilling and is a vocal advocate of this holistic approach to the type of images he creates. Recent clients in this phase of his career are LVMH, Paspalley Pearls, CNN, Epson, Broncolor, Nikon and Nik Software.
His personal work, unlike his commercial work, is eclectic and runs the gamut from surreal abstract to still life to architectural. His digital fine art prints are represented by Mertens Fine Art in Montecito, California and Throckmorton Fine Art in New York City. Teaching venues include The School of Visual Arts where he is a graduate instructor, Brooks Institute, International Center of Photography, Hallmark Institute of Photography, the University of Miami and Palm Beach Photographic Center.
The ability to meld technology with creative imagery has firmly established Douglas Dubler as an innovator and artist and will continue to create a constant demand for his iconographic beauty and fine art images.
Want to do a fashion photography workshop with Douglas and Ron in New York City?
Douglas is an iconic fashion and beauty photographer with hundreds of magazine covers to his credit. If you are interested in joining him in Manhattan for a workshop, please contact me and I’ll add you to the list for future workshop announcements. Exact details will be included when space for the next workshop opens up.
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- Printing Series: Douglas Dubler – Fashion Photographer & Epson Stylus Pro Master Printer
- Getting the Shot: Bill Gates by Gary Parker
- Getting the Shot: Steve Jobs by Gary Parker
- Printing Series
- Sony a3000
- Sony a6000 (includes 16-70mm lens)
- Sony a7 (includes Samyang lens)
- Sony a7R
- Sony DSC-RX1 (Full Frame Compact Camera)
- Sony DSC-RX10
- Sony RX100 III (Sony DSC-RX100 II vs RX100 I)
- Sony NEX-7
- X-Rite ColorMunki Photo Color Management Solution
- X-Rite ColorChecker Passport
- X-Rite i1Display Pro and ColorMunki Display Colorimeters
- Zeiss Otus 55m f/1.4
- Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4
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