Featured Photographer: Kristian Dowling.

Kristian

“Photography has always been many things to me.  Love, passion, hobby, stress relief and freedom – but mostly a competition within myself to get better and better.”

—Kristian Dowling.

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Kristian Dowling

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About.

34 years old.  Worked as a Getty Images staff photographer, working in news, sports and entertainment.  Moved on to Freelance working with Associated Press, MTV, Fox, Capitol/EMI Records and Katy Perry.

Cameras and lenses.

Leica M(240), M Monochrom, Leica M9-P, Nokton 35/1.2.  Nikon D4, D800E, D600, 24-70, 70-200, 85/1.4G.  Profoto, Speedlight and LED lighting kits.

What’s important.

As an individual, the photography experience is most important.  The images come second, because when I’m gone, the experience in life is more meaningful to me than the pictures I leave behind.”

Interesting fact.

What got me started in photography at age 16, was being fired from KFC, pushing me to work in photographic retail, and thus eventually pursuing a photography career.  I was also Australian, National Karate Champion a few years in a row and ranked 4th in the World Karate Championships.  Karate gave me the determination and discipline needed to go as far as I have in Photography.”

 

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Today, I am very excited to feature the work of Kristian Dowling, whose photographic exploits involve the biggest names in entertainment, fashion, and sports.   He is the consummate professional, known for his ability to “deliver”, under all manner of circumstances.  Continually sought after for his ability to create memorable and inspirational images, he is rightfully admired by his clients and colleagues alike.

Recently, Kristian decided to eschew the fast-lane life of Los Angeles, where he was working as a celebrity photographer, and headed back to his roots in Melbourne, Australia.

Now, when not on assignment, Kristian is busy teaching fellow photo enthusiasts about “Seeing the Light”, via his photographic workshops, personalised coaching sessions, and contributions in various photographic fora.

As if his formidable photographic talents and unwavering dedication weren’t enough, Kristian is also a genuine, affable, and generous soul.

(Short story…)

When I contacted Mr. Dowling last month and asked him if he wouldn’t mind being a Featured Photographer on Prosophos.com, Kristian — despite his many accomplishments, stature, and busy schedule — responded within 24 hrs, writing:

“I’m happy [to help]…just let me know what you need…”

—Peter.

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Q&A with Kristian Dowling.

What motivated (and still motivates) you to pick up a camera?

“The desire to improve and explore.  Exploration using the photographic medium relates not only to exploring the world, but testing myself to see how well I can translate what I see into photographic imagery.  Photography has always been many things to me.  Love, passion, hobby, stress relief and freedom – but mostly a competition within myself to get better and better.  Thankfully, there are no limits with photography, so my journey will continue until the day I leave this Earth.  These days I’m focused on helping others, and passing on the knowledge I’ve collected over the years.  I coach individuals and groups through my photographic training and really enjoy seeing my students improve and achieve their goals.  It means a lot to me to see the development of others through my coaching, and I’m finding that I am just as excited seeing my students progress, as seeing myself improve.  It’s been a big career change for me since leaving my career behind in Hollywood, but it’s a lot of fun and certainly more rewarding.”

 

What do your images “say” about you?

“There are probably many things photographers hope their images say about them.  To me, the most important thing I want to convey through my images is ‘dedication’.  By this I mean dedication to my subjects, my effort, my planning, my results, and my own self-improvement.  Most photographers focus on one main area and style with their photography, but with me, I enjoy so much about photography that it’s not a priority for me to have a style to be distinguished by.  I’m not saying it’s not important to have my work be uniquely different, but with so many photographers out their doing great new things, I don’t feel the need to focus on one style just to be different.  I do what I like and try my best to do it at the highest, most consistent level.  There’s also a sense of achievement when you’re confident enough to be able to shoot a variety of different styles, assignments and subjects, and that’s what I thrive on.  I also strive to get my pictures 100% right out of camera, which is certainly a high goal but one I must set in order to keep improving.  It’s very important to me to get my images right out of camera, the traditional way, like I did when I shot film.  I don’t believe in shooting with post processing as a fall back option when I can do most of it at the time of exposure.  It’s much more rewarding taking a picture successfully, without the need to post-processing corrections…. not to mention, time saving 😉 “

 

How have you evolved as a photographer/artist over the years?

“Over the years I have evolved as a photographer at a rapid pace.  The 1st stage of my evolution started with photography books, and being inspired by amazing photographers like Steve McCurry, Alex Webb, Sebastião Salgado, Jesse Marlow, Richard Avedon, Jeanloup Sieff and many others.  The 2nd stage began with my first major employment with Getty Images only 9 months after starting photography as a profession.  In this industry, this kind of start is unheard of.  I was fortunate that Getty saw potential in me and took a gamble by making me a staff photographer working at the highest editorial level.  It was an honor but a huge challenge.  I was already quite a technically sound photographer, but a lot of weight goes into experience – which I was lacking.  Very quickly I was working alongside some of the world’s top editorial photographers as the world’s largest events, including the Commonwealth Games, New York Fashion Week, Cannes Film Festival, Beijing Olympics and many more.  Not only was I working there, but often as the official photographers with a great deal of pressure placed upon my shoulders, and the shoulders of our team.  At the time I was fortunate that the amazing photographers I was working with were happy to help me, and train me in a team environment focused on achieving the absolute best results possible.  It was this interaction with other photographers that has influenced me the most.  The 3rd stage of my evolution is where I am right now – exploration of myself with the freedom of not being tied down by employment and clients.  It kind of feels like starting photography all over again, but I’m excited by the possibilities and welcome the challenges ahead.”

Any further comments about your work you’d like to share?

“My advice to aspiring photographers all focused on image quality is to not forget to enjoy the experience and not get all caught up in the trap of analyzing their images at pixel level sharpness.  I used to be online all the time focusing on what sensors and lenses will provide maximum picture quality, forgetting that it’s not the camera taking the picture, it’s me.  Cameras (modern ones) are designed to provide great ‘image’ quality, but the ‘picture’ quality comes down to the photographer – and IMHO, the photography experience is most important.  The images come second….”

 

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Images courtesy Kristian Dowling.

Katy Perry "California Dreams Tour 2011" - Fort Lauderdale

Kristian 2

Kristian 3

Muay Thai Kickboxing Camp Brings Hope To Thai Orphans

Kristian 5

Kristian 6

Kristian 7

Kristian 8

Kristian 9

Kristian 10

Hugh Hefner

Kristian 12

Kristian 13

Arielle Kebbel - Portraits

A big thank you once again to Mr. Kristian Dowling.

—Peter.

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[Previously Featured Photographers may be found here.]

16 thoughts on “Featured Photographer: Kristian Dowling.

  1. gagemanning says:

    Great post! Always enjoy looking at Kristian’s art. Also, enjoy reading his thoughts and opinions.

    The B&W image of the older man wood working seems to always draw my attention. It may be my favorite picture of his!

    Gage

    • Thanks Gage, the picture of the older man took a fair bit of work. The light was coming in from his left so to add definition to and highlight his incredible skin I needed to be in that position. The angle also helped with the combination of timing and action. Happy to hear you like it and thanks so much for the support!

  2. andygemmell says:

    Great work Kristian!

    Well I can speak first hand here as a student of Kristian’s. Very professional, passionate about his craft and teaching and most importantly a very genuine and thoughtful person.

    Having heard first hand about the story and thinking behind many of these images has been a great learning experience in itself.

    Gage, that image of the old wood worker for instance I initially thought was about perspective and composition…which is part of it…but its more about light when you listen to Kristian explain his thinking.

    Thanks Peter and Kristian.

    Andrew

  3. mewanchuk says:

    Stunning pictures!

    I love finding people who make you feel so totally and utterly inadequate about your own photography. 🙂 I think it challenges you to be better, and to push your own personal style.

    A sincere thank you to Kristian for sharing your work here, and to Peter for another amazing showcase.

    All the best to you both.

    Warmest regards,
    M.

    • I agree with you Mewanchuk, and feel the same way about many other photographers, but humbled that my work makes you feel this way 😉

      I like the fact you mentioned the word ‘challenged’ because that’s exactly how I see photography…..especially in a world now that’s almost treating photography like a big competition…..for LIKES.

      All the best!

  4. Jason Timmis says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share Kristian. I really enjoy your work and particularly what I infer is your ‘personal’ street shooting work. I also find it refreshing to read about someone (in photography) going away from the internet to just focus on their work – as I reply on the internet :-).

    Thanks for this one Peter!

    Jason.

    • Hi Jason, thank you for taking the time to share your comment. It’s certainly hard to ignore the internet and I’ve just added a blog to my new website, so I guess I’ll be on there a little more now. Been avoiding it for so long but if you don’t interact with my followers and supporters, you get lost to those others that do.

      Cheers to you Jason, and thank you Peter.

  5. An excellent and interesting interview (feature) on Kristian Dowling’s photography and some really outstanding photos as well. I have spent some time with Kristian on the streets of Bangkok shooting with him, I have watched him work in a studio and I have seen him in action teaching workshops to his students. He is a huge inspiration to me as a photographer, a coach and a friend. Thanks for posting this feature.

    cheers, michael

  6. Thanks Peter for sharing Kristian’s work here on your blog. His work provides me new insight as to what one can do with the camera. Please accept my apology that this is the first time I’ve seen Kristian’s work and knew it was him. But I now plan on spending more time reviewing his work and look forward to what he has to say on his blog.

    Something Kristian has stated on his site caught my attention, ok two things, you the photographer need to run your camera and not let the camera run you in auto and the other for me is to quit pixel peaking and worrying about what others might say is the next best piece of equipment. Just get out and shoot more and enjoy your own experience taking photographs!

    • Hi Duane, no apology needed. I’m happy to hear you spent some time on my site and glad you got something out of it. Working as a full time professional has taught me to value every second out of the shooting experience, and worry less about the results….when not shooting for a client that is 😉

      I can’t stress enough how important the ‘experience’ is to me, and that’s where the value of your camera equipment really comes into it’s own. While many (including myself at times) spend so much time evaluating file quality on a monitor, I’ve come to appreciate the way I interact with and utilise the camera in the field, and that’s when the little subtleties of the Leica M really make the shooting experience enjoyable.

      • Thanks Kristan, my Leica M-E has required me to run the camera whereas in the past my DSLR was really just a big point and shoot. I’m excited to read about others success and I wish you many more years of that. It’s great to know your using your talents to assist others too and look forward to the wisdom I assume you’ll share along the way on your blog.

        I’m a little late to the game as I’m rapidly approaching 60 but want these last years to be the best they can. Keep at it and thanks for sharing your story here!

  7. Prosophos says:

    I’d like to thank Mr. Dowling once again, and not just for contributing to the Featured Photographer series on Prosophos.com, but also for his generous participation in the commentary. You are a true gentleman Kristian.

    —Peter.

  8. Luiz Paulo says:

    Great images. Loved the “duetos” like the budas.

  9. ashwinrao1 says:

    Always great to see your work, Kristian! Only bummer is that my favorite image of yours isn’t posted here, but many other excellent options are!

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