Sunday, January 09, 2011

Steven Dempsey

FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER: Steven Dempsey
Red Barn Revisited
Ever since I can remember I have been drawn to long roads, fog and old barns. This was shot in one of my favorite places in the world (Carnation in Washington State, USA). When I passed this barn for the first time, it spoke to me. This photograph embodies a sense of loneliness, decay and the endlessness of the road as it recedes into the fog. The mysteriousness of it all pulls me into the picture.

Still from a Dream - Part 2 of 3, December 2nd 9:01am
I like the idea of anonymity in the figure crossing the road. Having no face or identifying features, he blends into the landscape almost like the poles and the distant car. I was fascinated by the movie "Until the End of the World" by Wim Wenders where images from dreams were actually captured for others to see. I conceived of this scene before I shot it. It was just a matter of waiting for the right atmospheric conditions to capture the dream.

1: How long have you been involved in photography?
I've been shooting video for ten years and began shooting photographs seriously about two years ago.

2: Equipment you use?
Canon 5D Mark II is my one and only camera.
My main lens is a 24-105 L lens from Canon and I shoot about 95% of my pictures with it.
For portrait work I also use a Canon 85mm f1.8 lens.
When I want to get up close and personal, I use a Canon 100-400 L lens.
My tripod consists of a Photo Clam ball head and Feisol Carbon fiber legs.
I mostly use 8GB CF cards and occasionally a 16GB if I am shooting HD video.
I rarely use filters.

I edit exclusively in Photoshop and organize my photos using either Adobe Bridge or Lightroom.

3: Mac or PC?
PC

4: What inspires you?
Anything and everything. My mind is wide open and I can be inspired by the most innocuous of things. I am particularly influenced by my filmmaking background and tend to think as a filmmaker does when looking at a composition. I love the movies of Terrence Malick, especially Thin Red Line and Days of Heaven. Films like that inspire my landscape photography. Also the work of American Painter Andrew Wyeth has a huge influence on my recent work.

5: Preferred subject matter?
Either landscapes or portraits of people, depending on what's moving me at the time.

6: Name one thing you haven't caught with the camera that you REALLY want to capture.
I want to shoot more portraits of older people, especially those who wear their whole life experience on their faces. The deep wrinkles form a map of their existence on this planet. I want to be able to convey a person's inner self, not just shoot pretty pictures.

7: When in doubt about your art, who do you confide in?
I have a good friend in New York who is also a photographer. We used to play in a rock band years and years ago and now she is a photographer. We look to each other for honest feedback about our work. Sometimes I will also post something on Flickr to see what the general reaction is. If I'm in doubt about something to begin with and I see it's getting luke warm to no reaction, I'll just pull it and move on. The volume of photographs I have shot is large so it's easy for me to move on to another idea rather than wallow in self pity as to why everyone is not seeing the genius of my vision for that particular picture, lol.

8: Qualifications/training in anything? ie: Photoshop
Completely self taught. The Web is a great resource so when I want to learn about something, I fire up Google and have a wealth of information at my fingertips. I have this immense hunger for knowledge and it prevents me from stagnating. The more I know the more I realize that I really know very little and that thrills me...never to know everything. It's a lifetime pursuit.

9: Plans for the future?
Keeping my passion alive. While it would be nice to sell a lot of my work, it's not at all why I do it. I shoot photographs because I think there is magic in what I do. I cannot ever come to terms with the sheer miracle of a camera. What it can do is beyond my understanding. To be able to capture the beauty I see in pictures is the greatest gift of all. My future plan is to hold onto that notion.

10: In one word, describe your photography.
I can't.

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