Interview with Mitch Dobrowner
#1 Please introduce yourself:
My name is Mitch Dobrowner, born on Long Island, New York, currently living in Los Angeles, California. I have a wife, 3 kids a dog and a rotten cat.
#2 How did you get interested in photography?
Growing up on Long Island (Bethpage), NY I felt lost in my teens. I got in a good amount of trouble, started fooling with drugs and motorcycles and my parents were worried about me. In desperation my father gave me an old Argus rangefinder to fool around with. Little did he realize what an important gesture that would turn out to be for me.
Once I started shooting I became addicted. As I was researching the craft I stumbled into the images of Minor White and Ansel Adams. To make a long story short, after seeing images of the Southwest for the first time I decided to leave home (at 20) quitting my job, leaving my friends and family. In California I eventually met my wife, and together we had 3 children, and created our own design studio – and the tasks of running a business and raising a family took a priority to Photography. During that time I stopped taking pictures.
Years later, in early 2005, inspired by my wife, children and friends I again picked up my cameras. The moment I started shooting again I felt on fire. Now I see myself on a passionate mission to make up for years of lost time – creating images that help evoke how I see our wonderful planet.
Besides my family I feel I owe much to the great photographers of the past, especially Ansel Adams, for their dedication to the craft and for inspiring me in my late teens. Though I have never met them, their inspiration helped me determine the course my life would take.
#3 Do you have an artistic/photographic background?
No, its actually mostly technical. Currently I work for Sony developing their production pipelines (software and hardware) and building the digital infrastructure for a division of the studio.
#4 Which artist/photographer inspired your art?
I love the images of Ansel Adams and Minor White. Besides my family, they are my inspiration. The first time I saw either of those photographers works I was floored. It may sound a bit cliche, but the images left a major impact on my life and the direction it would go. Today the work of Nick Brandt inspires me. I don’t like looking at too many other peoples work….. not that its not wonderful…. its just overwhelming at times.
#5 How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph? Are you planning every step or is it always spontaneous?
It’s a combination. I spend a good amount of time thinking about what I want to focus on. I’m in love with the Southwest. It’s a truly mystical, spiritual place. I find it easy to photograph. I see my work being portraits of the rocks and environments. I think you need to love what you decide to shoot. The images need to come from your heart.
I spend time in the environment learning about it, seeing in in different light and weather conditions. I talk to the subject I’m shooting it in my own way. So I position myself to be in the right place at the right time, and then just wait for nature to show me what she’s got. I just wait for the right lighting and weather conditions.
#6 You seem to be fascinated by landscapes and places that are absolutely out of this world. What inspire you about these places?
They are ancient structures that have been here thousand of years before we were; and will exist well beyond the time we are here. They have seen and witness much. I feel honored to be able to capture their images in a manner that I inwardly experience them. Once I feel “in touch” I just wait for the right lighting and weather conditions.
#7 We can see your photographs only in black and white, why have you chosen to present them in this form?
I shoot in B&W because color work ust seems too real and ‘everyday’ to me. I see it through my eyes all the time. B&W interprets reality the way I “see” and feel. And besides, my wife (who is a designer and painter) says I’m color blind. But I’m not – I just know the names of all the colors. And the only time I see in color is when I’m listening to music. I see music/orchestrations in their various tones. Not sure why… but its what I see.
#8 The technique you’re using to create your photographs has been masterfully developed. Could you please tell us something about it?
I don’t see the work as just pure landscape photography, but also as an exercise in light, form, and capturing the drama and intensity that these naturally beautiful landscapes deserve. I really just want to shoot what I see, and then realize it in the manner that it touched me.
Technically, I come from a film/wet darkroom background – but use a digital work flow. My cameras feel like an extension of my brain and hands when I’m out shooting. The digital combination of the lens, sensor, the optical path the aligns the lens and sensor, the live view, histogram and zebra – they all make for the perfect landscape camera for me. I because shoot in B&W mode I see what I’m shooting and treat the sensor just as I would film and filter for B&W just as I did for film. All my images are captured latent. I perform the normal amount of dodging, burning, brightness and contrast controls on the images in CS3… similar to what I would do in the wet darkroom. I print on Epson 3800 and 9800 printers.
#9 Could you tell our readers how to reach such excellent results in photography?
Have lot of patience, luck, experimentation, and then a lot of refining. I’m always trying techniques in the field, and preparing myself correctly for the subject matter and the conditions and equipment. I also see continued advancements in technology helping….. such as vehicles, GPS and tracking units, cameras, printers and software. The trick is to pick what is right for me and not to spend time in “techno lust”.
#10 What does photography mean to you?
It’s simple, it’s how I regenerate….. it’s my art form – a way to express how I see the world. I’m also glad it exists because I’m not a very good painter or writer.
#11 Do you work as a professional photographer or do you pursue the art as a hobby?
If ‘professional’ means a majority of my income is made by it, the short answer is I pursue it as a professional fine art photographer because I sell a good amount of prints (through the galleries that represent me) but I also have a (great) day job. I think I’m very lucky.
#12 Are you planning to publish any album/book with your works in near future?
Yes, when the time is right. It’s a goal. I don’t want to publish a ‘vanity’ project (ie: like a BLURB book). I respect the photographers that publish that type of book, but its just not what I want to do. When/if I ever get approached by the right publisher I’ll know it time.
#13 What future plans do you have? What projects would you like to accomplish?
I plan to continue my work in the Southwest. This next year I plan to spend some time in the Grand Staircase, Canyonlands and the Easter Sierra Nevada. I also have plans to start a new project chasing storm systems in the northern portion of Tornado Alley shooting super cells.
Mitch Dobrowner Official Website: