We are launching our first post in a multi-part series interviewing professional photographers from around the U.S. We wanted to learn more about how they got started, what inspires them and how we can all become better photographers. First, we interviewed Kenneth Dolin, a 12-year photographer in Los Angeles, California. Here’s what he had to say:
What inspired you to become a photographer?
I spent many years as a producer, and then as a working actor. This represented a perfect alchemy of refined visual sensibilities combined with understand of actors and their process. And so photographing actors was the perfect place to combine those two diverse skills. It allowed me to focus on the visual (composition, lighting, art directing) while also focusing on working with actors to bring out a level of truth in their photos.
How did you learn your craft?
I’m self taught. But like most photographers, it took time to find my voice and my style. And it took faith that I didn’t need to copy someone else. Rather, I needed to just shoot and shoot and practice and slowly discover my style and my “voice” as a photographer.
What is your favorite type of photography?
I love shooting PEOPLE. My job is 20% photography and 80% psychology. I love to bring people out, to make them feel alive in front of my lens, to get them PAST the need to pose. Half of my clients are kids, and I also LOVE giving young people photo shoots that are bigger than just a shoot, and to create experiences for them that are empowering and joyful. If I can use my photography as an excuse to empower and inspire my clients, then my work and my life has meaning.
If you could shoot one thing (person, place, etc…) what would it be and why?
Mark Rylance because he’s my favorite actor. Meryl Streep because she’s my favorite actress.
What is the biggest benefit of your job?
Meeting so many interesting people, and learning so much from them. I forge really deep connections with my clients, and forge so many lovely relationships.
In terms of photographing people, remember that most people pose for the camera. Your job is to get them to STOP posing so they can live truthfully in front of the camera. On some level, your job is to make them forget that the camera is even there.
Any tips for getting the perfect shot…even with a cell phone?
Don’t THINK too much. FEEL. And allow yourself to FAIL. Failure is the path to enlightenment as an artist. Not getting it perfect is liberating and allow you to explore, play, and try new things. The joy is in the play.
Watch our for Part 2 of our photographer series next week and in the meantime, check out more of Kenneth Dolin’s work here.