Does post-processing take away from the artistic aspects of photography?
By Rose Riot
I first saw the work of Thomas Dodd on Facebook. A model that I had used and was Facebook friends with had posted pictures from a shoot she had done with a photographer named Thomas Dodd. I was intrigued; his work didn’t look like my photographs for sure and bore little resemblance to the work I saw of other photographers. I was new to digital technology and whatever editing process he was using at the time went way over my head.
A few years later a very good friend of mine did a shoot with him and, again, I was amazed and baffled. As my tech savvy increased, rather than being less mystified by his work, I was more mystified. I started really looking at all the elements of art in his work. When I first studied film photography many years ago, there was a debate as to whether photography was really an “art,” but my answer was always, “Yes!”
As we have moved into the digital camera age, the debate has changed from whether photography is viable art to whether or not post processing images is an art.
After reading this and looking at Dodd’s work, the question will be answered for you: Thomas Dodd is a true artist.
How long have you been a photographer?
I first began taking photographs when I was a teenager in the 1970s. My father was an avid photography enthusiast and from him I learned the basics of the craft and most importantly, how to capture a good portrait. However, I left Photography behind in my late teens when I became a musician. For two decades I was a working musician playing in bands, touring and putting out albums. It wasn’t until the advent of the internet and
home recording becoming available on the computer that I became aware of and intrigued by editing programs like Photoshop. Editing other people’s pictures on the net got me back into photography again and I bought a digital camera shortly thereafter(around 2006).
How did you make the transition from from editing like a normal photographer to editing like Thomas Dodd (or have you always had a unique editing style?)
I think I have always had a unique style. From the very onset, I always tried to give my work a painterly feel.
How long did it take you to come up with your own style?
About a year or so of working hard every single day!
What are your feelings on how oversaturated the creative market (due to technology) has become, particularly with photography?
This is actually a good thing for me and the kind of image-making I do. Now that photography as documentation has become accessible to the masses (more so than ever) people look more and more for what they can NOT do when they hire an image-maker.
I read that you think it’s important to branch out beyond your local market. What do you mean by that?
If you choose to compete with the locals, then you will stay local. If you choose to work together with your peers to better each other and then set your sights on competing with the national talent, you will rise above the petty back-biting and mediocrity that aspiring artists often find themselves embroiled in. As an artist, it has always been my aim to be known nationally. I do not think of myself as competing in the local market. Atlanta is just one of many cities that I have shows in and I network with artists all over the world.
At what point in your career were you able to do photography for a living?
Quite recently actually – within the past year…
Have you ever wanted to give up?
That has never been an option for me because being an artist is simply who and what I am, not something I am “trying” to do…
Without giving away your secrets can you tell us a little about your editing process?
The method I use in my work is something I call “Painting With Photography.” Through a technique called layer masking that I employ in photo-editing software, I stack, layer and blend different photos together to create a final image that looks much more like an oil painting than a photograph. When the image is printed, I often mount it on wood panels and then paint over the print with finishing gel or beeswax – this is a method called photo encaustic painting and it gives a tangible real texture on top of the photographed ones.Even though most of my compositing is done in the computer, I view my work as an organic composite of elements and always strive for the end result to be both beautiful and thought-provoking.
What are you influenced by creatively outside of photography (ie. I’m a photographer but classic movies and ‘80s music videos are one of my biggest inspirations)?
I am influenced predominately by painters: I like the Renaissance masters for the way they rendered skin tones and lighting (particularly Caravaggio and Rembrandt) and am probably most influenced stylistically and thematically by two movements from the late 19th/early 20th Centuries – the Symbolists ( especially Gustav Klimt and Edvard Munch) and the Pre Raphaelites (John William Waterhouse in particular). There are also elements of Maxfield Parrish and Giuseppe Arcimboldo in my work. I am also a huge supporter of the modern realism movement in painting which was spearheaded by the great Norwegian painter Odd Nerdum and is now being propelled by younger painters like Richard T Scott and Alexandra Manukyan.
Who are your favorite photographers?
Photographers that have had an impact on me are the Czech erotic photographer Jan Saudek, and the great fashion storyteller Helmut Newton.
Find more of Thomas Dodd’s photographic art at thomasdodd.com