Interview with:
Dave Earl

Cover of Volume 14

Where are you born and when?

USA, 1970

Where do you live?

Western WI

When and how do you start your path in photography?

I first became interested in photography as a kid while growing up with Polaroids and point and shoot cameras. I received a Nikon FA as a high school graduation gift and from there my love of photography became even stronger. Early in my professional career, around 1997, I found myself owning a Sony Mavica MVC-FD5 and started my journey into the world of digital photography. It was my interest in digital photography and having access to a few willing models that pointed me in the direction of fine art nude photography. Early on I struggled (and still do to a degree) with my love of photography competing with my love of painting. Ultimately I became aware that I don’t have the patience to be a decent painter, so photography won in the end as my primary obsession.

Who were the three photographers that inspired you at the beginning and who are the three ones that inspire you now?
Please add links to the pages where the images are shown.

In the beginning I really admired the work of Alfred Stieglitz, Sally Mann, and Joel Peter-Witkin. I still admire their work of course.

More recently I have been interested in the work of: Bill Henson, Antoine d’Agata and Miroslav Tichý. Of course it is difficult to narrow down favorites given the number of exceptionally talented photographers out there today.

I’ll also add that in my case there have been several painters that have been just as inspiring as some of my favorite photographers. These include Francis Bacon (of course), Lucian Freud and Richard Pearlstein.

Bill Henson

Antoine d’Agata

Miroslav Tichýý

Did you go to a school or are you a self-taught?

I am largely a self-taught photographer. Most of my photographic education came from reading books on the subject, especially the ones with more pictures than words. I have a rather large collection of photography books with an emphasis on pictorial, vernacular, and figure photography . Aside from books, I have benefited greatly from being friends with several talented photographers over the years.

Do you make photography as a living?

At the moment I do not. There is always hope for the future! I do occasionally sell prints, however that doesn’t come close to supporting my photographic interests.

What do you like in photography, what is your motivation?

I really enjoy the creative side of making photographs. I continue to be fascinated with the serendipitous nature of some techniques and processes. I love to experiment with equipment and techniques even though it can be frustrating at times. The thrill of discovering something new that works well is hard to beat. Of course the thing I like most about photography are the wonderful people, photographers and models, I have been fortunate to come into contact with over the years. They are truly some of the finest people I know.

As far as motivation goes, I think what keeps me going is the pure thrill of making the next photograph and seeing what happens.

What do you want to express or arouse in those who watch your images?

I have always been interested in making photographs that appeal to me and are in keeping with creative vision. I try not be overly concerned about how others view my work. Of course all creative types, at some level, hope that the viewer will find some kind of connection to their work. In that regard, I don’t see myself as an exception.

What are your preferred moment(s) in the creation process?

Getting to know my models is the part of the creative process that I most enjoy. Knowing them as unique individuals and having a connection with them is essential to my process. I believe that a connection with your model(s) is a necessity if you want to make honest photographs. When that connection is absent, I think it shows in the work. Of course part of that connection is trust and respect which works both ways.

What are your three most representative images, and why?
Please add links to the pages where the images are shown.

Three photographs that could be considered representative of my current work are featured here

"Ghost in the Attic” is an example of long exposure and intentional camera movement techniques. I use these techniques to create movement, mood and a sense of passing time, all of which have been important themes explored in my work.

"Alaina on the Prairie (Infrared)” is a photograph that demonstrates the unique characteristics of infrared photography, something I have worked with for a number of years. I have always loved the way infrared light renders the body. The visible veins, in particular, give a sense of the body as a living organism interacting with the environment with an aliveness unique to IR.

"Clover Field” is a typical example of the figure in nature, a subject that I explore extensively. Who doesn’t like being outside photographing beautiful landscapes and figures?

What equipment and/or techniques do you use?

It is not a matter of brands/lenses, it is mostly about analog/digital, preferred light (natural/flash), how much post-production, etc.

I prefer to use mirrorless cameras due to their versatility and more specifically their ability to use all of the vintage lenses I have collected over the years. I appreciate the craftsmanship and the unique characteristics of different vintage lenses. I truly love the way that vintage lenses can give a nostalgic feel to the resulting images.

I am currently using a Sony A7RIII and a Fuji X100F as my main “go to” digital cameras. For film I’m using my favorite Leicaflex and a variety of medium format toy cameras. My favorite lens at the moment is a vintage 35mm f1.4 Nikkor-N (thorium glass) that I found in a box of old lenses at sale a while back.

With respect to techniques, I experiment with long exposure photography and intentional camera movements the most. I also incorporate homemade filters, instant photography, lensless photography (pinhole) and infrared to keep things interesting.

Natural light is the way to go in my opinion. Given the cold climate I live in, I do incorporate strobes and artificial lighting on occasion out of necessity.

For post-production, both digital and film (scanned negatives), I almost exclusively use Adobe Lightroom.

How and why your work as changed since you started?

Over the years I have become less concerned about making technical photographs, preferring instead to embrace imperfections and a softer feel. I have turned into one of those “focus is overrated” people. Advancements in technology have certainly provided me more creative options which in turn has influenced the way I work. We truly live in a remarkable time to be a photographer.

What do you think about the fact that nowadays photography is mostly enjoyed on the Internet?

While the internet offers photographers the opportunity to share their work with a world-wide audience (of course a good thing), I believe the real beauty of a photograph is best experienced as a physical art object (a print). Digital photographs on a screen are a very different thing than photographic prints. There is something really special about holding a beautiful well-made print in your hands and appreciating all the things that make it a work of art. That includes the paper of course! In addition to prints, a screen can’t compete with a well made photography book that you can hold in your hands. In my view, no photographer’s home is complete without photographic prints on the wall and photography books on the shelves. Screens are optional.

Why did you decide to join the nudeartzine project?

I absolutely support photography in a printed form. I have always loved the zine format, it is a great way to make art available to masses.

Would you have an insight or advice to give to whomever is watching your work and wants to learn photography?

A couple of things come to mind. First, collect great photography books and study them. There are few things more precious than a great photography book. Secondly, strive to make photographs that you want to hang on your own walls and appreciate. Making photographs solely to get more “likes” is a fool’s errand.

What are your plans in the future?

In the near term I have a few book projects I am working on and a website revision to complete. In the long term, I hope to continue learning, improving, and chasing the perfect photograph.

On what page our readers can find more of your work?


Would you like to add something else?

Sure, a few thoughts: film isn’t dead, embrace change, photographers can be artists, and it’s all about making good photographs, not getting the most likes (#thetruth).

Last updated 13/04/2021 00:04:15

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