Interview with:
Doyle Wesley Walls

Doyle Wesley Walls

Where are you born and when?

Texas, U.S.A., 1954.

Where do you live?

Oregon, outside Portland, U.S.A.

When and how do you start your path in photography?

Aside from a lifetime of looking closely at images and people and scenes that I found beautiful or striking in some fashion, and aside from some photos I’d taken with a Mamiya/Sekor through the years, I began to focus on photography in a more dedicated way in 2005 with the purchase of my first digital camera and my realization that my primary interest in photography would be photographing women. That Nikon (and my computer and Photoshop) freed me: digital saved me time and money (with photo labs) and placed more control in my hands.

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.

Too many to answer and too few who would be win, place, and show in front of the others: from Bellocq and Stieglitz to Edward Weston, William Klein, Robert Frank, Sally Mann, and William Eggleston. The photo that moves me could come from any photographer. Given my interest in female portraiture, I’ll point to the bravery, playfulness, and honesty of Helmut Newton. I’ve admired many portraits of women by Ellen von Unwerth, Sante d’Orazio, Peter Lindbergh, Marco Glaviano, Bettina Rheims, and Arthur Elgort.

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

Lots of schooling, but nothing in photography, with the exception of one class from a local photographer about lighting which wasn’t very helpful.

Do you make photography as a living?


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

I taught literature and writing in universities over a 40 year period. My work was largely solitary: reading, writing, grading essays, preparing lessons and lectures. Once I started photographing women, I was out of my office at work and study at home. I was moving, not sitting, working with another person who was not my student. I met people while shooting in the street. This was almost always a pleasure. When I had photos that pleased me as a result of these encounters, then I could continue the human interaction by showing those photos to others.

In other words, I wanted to make art. Elaine Scarry says it this way early in her book “On Beauty and Being Just": “Beauty brings copies of itself into being. It makes us draw it, take photographs of it, or describe it to other people.” A woman, of course, is a human being, not a thing. But a photograph of a beautiful woman is an object, a thing. And, as John Keats wrote in his poem “Endymion,” “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: / Its loveliness increases; it will never / Pass into nothingness....” My portrait of Olive Glass in this collection is a celebration of feminine beauty and sexuality. I celebrate her allure. This human being and I worked to make objects of beauty--portraits. This is not predatory; it’s collaborative. In another nude portrait in my collection on Flickr, I used a title that will help answer the question posed to me here: “Carlotta Helps Me Say What I Want to Leave on Record.” I began shooting females in nude portraits and in stages of undress because I enjoy those portraits. And that would be reason enough. Emerson said it well in his poem “The Rhodora": “...if eyes were made for seeing, / Then Beauty is its own excuse for being....” But I also began taking these photos because I had been teaching literature and writing in American universities where feminine beauty has taken a beating since the 70s. (Scarry says this in her book.) Helen of Troy had a face that launched a thousand ships. It’s impossible to teach literature honestly without admitting to that power. Tolstoy faces a related truth that I’ve photographed: that photo of his text is on my Flickr under this title: “An Uncomfortable Truth in Tolstoy’s ’The Kreutzer Sonata.’"

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

"When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice."

--Robert Frank, text taken from an exhibit of his photographs at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, 2002

Have you read Andrew Marvell’s poem “To His Coy Mistress"? If not, you will enjoy seeing that. Have you watched Ingmar Bergman’s “Winter Light"? If not, you’ll thank me for telling you about it. Oh, yes, and I have portraits I took of three gorgeous women in Prague: these women are not to be missed. I, too, want to make art.

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

Scouting...on the street. The actual shooting (on the street, in a studio, or in a hotel room), the feeling that I’m in the zone and getting good shots. The opportunity to improve each photo I feel is worthy to share once edited in post.

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

I couldn’t narrow this down to my three “favorite” albums of photos with my three “favorite” models, much less three images.

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.

Digital. Both natural and artificial light. Post-production to clean skin and enhance the general look of the photo.

How and why your work as changed since you started?

Once I’d gone digital I purchased Photoshop. Photoshop has many, many options, and I’ve learned I don’t want most of them. Still glad I have it; still use it. But less is more.

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

Many have decried the loss of concentration, even the loss of an attention span, for far too many people, thanks to the net. But it’s also a sad reality that people will fly across an ocean to visit a great art museum and then spend 32.5 seconds, moving the “whole time,” in front of a masterpiece because they hope to “do” the Louvre in a day. So, despite its flaws, thank you, internet, especially during a pandemic, for bringing me the outside world and continuing to send my work out. What concerns me most about the net is what version of my photograph you see on your screen as opposed to what I see on mine. Is my shot RGB? Should it have been sRGB? How old is your computer? How dark or light is the setting you’ve chosen for your screen? Are you looking at the image on a desktop or on your phone?

Why did you decide to join the nudeartzine project?

Having received an invitation to submit two portraits to Ugo’s Flickr group, I checked out the group and liked what I saw. I added both photos. When the opportunity to submit to this collection appeared, I chose one of the portraits to represent my work. Thank you, Ugo Grandolini, for your work making this publication a reality...on paper!

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

I shoot what I want to shoot. If you can shoot for pleasure, why not follow your bliss? Seize the day! Shoot what you want to see with your name connected to it.

What are your plans in the future?

More and better portraits of women. Bumping into that one very wealthy patron who also happens to run a respected publishing house.

On what page our readers can find more of your work?
In addition to what I’ve written in my “About” section on my Flickr, I have an album titled “Text about Photography,” too.
In addition to portraits and comments from models, there is text here in the “About Me” category.

Would you like to add something else?

Thanks again, Ugo.

Last updated 10/02/2022 23:02:16

Books by Doyle Wesley Walls

Cover of Best of 2021 a nudeartzine book}
Best of 2021 a nudeartzine book

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