Anthony's Interview

anthony dawton
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Address:
12/69 Courtfield Gardens London SW5 ONJ
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Tel:
020 7370 1966
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Fax:
020 785 1918
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Mobile:
07715 047 381
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e-mail:
anthony@dawton.com
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Web site:
www.dawton.com
Age: 45
Anthony is an internationally known commercial photographer as well being a great personal friend. We like his vivid personality and his multi-faceted talent. An accomplished professional. Yes! Read the following to see what we mean.
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What is your background? I learnt my trade at university shooting publicity stills for the college theatre. From there I went on tour with several opera companies in Germany and the UK. I worked as an assistant to what was then the top car photography studio in Europe: BMT. The photographers were mostly Americans from Detroit over here to show us how to do it! It was hell working for them! After that I worked for the auctioneers Sotheby’s where I learnt just about everything there is to know about table top photography. It was also the last place for a long time that I had the luxury and pleasure of working alongside other photographers, most of whom knew far more than I did. I got fired from Sotheby’s (that’s another story!) and I have been freelance ever since.

Your Work

What kind of clients do you have? I have a mix of clients: above and below the line agencies both here in London and in Paris and Munich. I also do a lot of commercial/industrial photography which gives me a lot of direct clients. I work quite a lot in the Middle East.

Did you notice changes in their requirements, their choices, their expectations? Well I have a rather controversial view point. I think for all the technical advances that have been made in photography over the last thirty years hardly anything has changed in the advertising world! It’s all still flat lit large format (read stilted) images or worse bought in library stock images.

I guess you have to navigate between all sorts of photographic requirements, what is the range of subjects you have to shoot? This is a difficult question. I assume people use me for my style and for the way I approach subjects. It doesn’t really matter if one day I am shooting a model and the next I am photographing down an electronic microscope it’s the look I bring to the final image that counts and I am not sure that I am very broad at all.

What is the strangest thing you had to shoot? A caesarean birth.

What changes would you make in your method of work, if any? Sell the children into slavery!

Your Gear

Your equipment? Not much camera gear, a few bits of Nikon and Canon, an RZ body and and an old Sinar. I do have a mix of quirky lights though; old bits of flash and very old tungsten.

Black/White or colour? What do you prefer? Black and white of course. Colour is so distracting. Name me a great photographer who ever shot in colour.

Do you print your own pictures? Not in dishes anymore (I WILL go back to it one day) but certainly from my Epson.

Do you have a digital camera? If yes, what do you likes about it? No but I do hire the Nikon D1 a lot. I like nearly everything about it except the colour. I thought I was just being hyper critical but apparently it is a recognised problem. I don’t think clients notice. It is quite subtle but it does bother me!

Your Pictures

What was your first step in photography? Well it was a Halina Paulette Electric (Ed: Hey! Me too!) which a friend at prep school brought for me from Hong Kong. I got it for £5.50 instead of £8.50. I shot Kodachrome 25 (before I realised it was, is and always will be the best film ever made!) all summer.

Along your photographic career, did you go though different phases, different styles? Hmm. Well I hope I improved! Basically I started in fashion in the late seventies and eighties when Jeff Banks, Wendy Dagworthy and Betty Jackson were the English fashion scene and then through a series of partnerships with design groups I moved towards industrial and finally advertising. So in that sense I have changed radically.

What is your favourite picture? Can you tell us the little story to go with? That I took? Erm…I don’t really have stories to go with my pics.

Are you the type of photographer who just takes one shot on a subject? No I take lots. Firstly, I love the way ideas and images develop especially with a switched on art director at your side. And secondly, I have neither the courage nor the nerve to present the client only one option!

Do you like to show your pictures? Yes I do. I am very enthusiastic about my work. I always (well nearly always!) assume that I am rejected by any agency because they don’t have clients that suit my style NOT because I am crap!

Do you think you have a fair opinion on others photographer’s work? Yes and 95% of them have absolutely nothing to say. I am madly jealous of the other 5%!

Do you keep all your photographs even the junk? NO! I mercilessly weed out all but the very best I have done. I have to keep looking forward…there too many photographers coming up behind me!

Your most “big disappointment” in photography? My answer would change every six months. I try not to be disappointed. Certainly not at missed opportunities, you win some, you lose some. I have produced terrible stuff but sometimes the client has thought they were terrific.

What is your favourite “ingredient “ for a good photo? When (after hours of messing around) the light suddenly becomes magical.

Your Inspiration

Are you just suddenly inspired ? Or do you plan a project? I plan like mad, for days sometimes weeks. Taking the actual picture has always been the quickest and easiest part. Getting there is my big struggle.

What are your Favourite Photographers? Sudek

What are your Favourite subjects? The common place.

What is your Favourite spot? Deep in the centre of any European city.

What is your Favourite mood? Dark melancholy.

Your View On

What do you thing about Contemporary Art Photography? I think top shelf magazines are more honest and less hypocritical. So much so called photographic art today is easy sexuality or else just feats of technical expertise (yawn!) There are some great modern photographers but I find it hard to accept that an essentially infinitely reproducible medium can achieve contemporary art status.

What about Artistic Internet Sales? Well you can guess from the answer to the last question what my opinion would be on this issue. I think a populist approach is valid (such as your UK Landscape site) is valid. The two are well matched. But please, art on the net come on!

Do you think all photographers want fame? Why? (in any case). Well I think there are few (I know one!) who are so sure about what they are doing that they don’t care if anyone notices them or not but for most of us we associate fame with lots of work…and I would like that.

Can you describe yourself in 3 words? No. Yes. Indecisive.

What would be your advice to a young photographer? I am a young photographer! Start going to ‘go-sees’ without delay. And when you have done every agency in London…start again!

Your Dream

What is your photographer’s dream? To take pictures that make a difference (for the better).

Here are some pictures you chose for us.

This space is not a question. It’s your “Free Speech Space”. Go on! You can say whatever you like! Sophie I can’t do this without a glass of wine (Bordeaux!) and a face to face across a table!

All photos © copyright Anthony Dawton 2001.

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May 2014
Roger Voller

 

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