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Extraordinary Portraits by an Extraordinary Man
By Ian Winship
Dalton Campbell is a young photographer from Texas who recently sold all his belongings in the pursuit of his craft. He packed his things and went to live in Europe to explore photography. Campbell has a style that fits what we like here at Quail Bell. His portraits ooze nostalgia. At the same time, these images show us a world through somebody else’s eyes. Campbell has an eye that, personally, I’d like to see the world through some more. Now that he is back in America we got a chance to ask him some questions about what he does:
Quail Bell: The ol' intro, please.
My name is Dalton Campbell. I am currently living in Austin, Texas. I am a portrait photographer by trade.
What do you think is the most inspirational hour of the day?
I love sunset for shooting. Even though in Texas that places us firmly in 100 degree weather. Energy wise I am sharpest early in the morning. I think I should start shooting earlier. Too bad models don’t agree.
What else inspires you?
I have many artists who I follow who constantly put me in a state of awe. 2013 has been a very important year for me. I have made major shifts towards cutting everything out of my life that does not support my photographic journey. That being said I follow other photographers who I believe shoot way out of my league. For example, Billy Kidd, Peter Yang, Edwin Tse, and Bryan Adams. Yes, Bryan Adams the singer. His work is wonderful.
Do you remember the first photo you captured with an artistic intent?
Taking photos was a strange transition early on. In 2007 a company that I started in 2003 went under. I went bankrupt and lost my home, car, everything. In 2008 I decided to go back to school for business. During that time I looked back at my life to determine what I wanted more of in my life. I wanted to live a creative life. I bought my first camera. A Nikon D40. A year went by uninspired. Then I purchased a 35mm 1.8 prime lens. Everything changed with the first picture. I think it was a picture of my dog. From that point on I wanted to be a photographer.
Your photography revolves around portraiture and people. What draws you towards this particular style?
Connection! I feel nothing from landscape and buildings, etc. I am a people person. Talking, sharing, trusting is what gives me purpose.
What is the best way to get people to pose for your photographs? Are they friends? Strangers? Hired models?
All of the above I shoot. It’s really simple. I walk up and tell them I am a portrait photographer and I would like to take their photo. I give them a card, tell them to look at my portfolio and if they like the style, we shoot.
What is your favorite camera setup to use? Do you switch setups often?
Well, I only have one, a Canon 5d Mark III. I do switch between lenses often. I love my prime lenses.
Tell us a little about your trip to Europe. What are the best and worst parts about selling all your belongings and moving to a foreign place?
I suppose I am a little different than most. Selling everything was easy. When I lost everything back in 2007, I decided that things would never again be a large focus of my life. Coming back the only thing I’ve added is a bed to my belongings. Things are nice to have, but they tend to become an anchor and prevent change.
How has the trip changed your life in ways you didn't expect?
I guess so. Maybe it was the feeling that no matter where I went I felt like home. I wasn't expecting that. Something the trip showed me was the difference between normal everyday life. Take for instance in normal life we are on autopilot between destinations. When traveling alone, everything is new, interesting, and alive. You pay a lot more attention to the details. Coming back, I wanted to keep that feeling. I don't want to lose it.
If everything goes according to plan, what comes next?
I have a long list of things that I want to achieve. I want to raise the standard of my own photography. I want to work through my insecurities related to shooting. I plan to shoot more editorial work for magazines. I want to build a business network that feels like a family, and of course develop several long-term projects.