We had the good fortune of connecting with Dave Gastineau and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dave, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
Ansel Adams — ‘The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it!
These words are an affirmation of the process and craft. These days digital hi-tech cameras are everywhere, even in your pocket, and everyone is a photographer. But, with all the vast improvements in camera technology and capabilities, non of it makes anyone a better photographer. I have an affinity for cheaply made plastic cameras and lenses with no sensors, pixels or autofocus. All that is required is a roll of film and a light meter. I much prefer these cameras to my state of the art digital cameras for my fine art photography. As with with any art form, it is about the process and craft of making a tangible piece someone might love as much as you. For me, that begins with shooting my work with analog cameras and paying my respects to the photographic process. In the end, no matter analog or digital, the equipment is not what makes a better photograph. It is however, the person making the picture.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a fine art photographer specializing in analog processes. There is more to photography than simply snapping a picture. There is a craft and art to it, and how you go about that becomes your style. I feel by using the fundamental analog processes of photography I am paying homage and respect towards the craft. There is a saying in the image making world of “Get it in camera’. That has unfortunately become, “We’ll fix it in post”. When working with film and analog methods, there is no post per se. You can change a print in the darkroom by dodging and burning, even making mask to composite different negatives together. But, this is a feat not as easily accomplished as with Photoshop and digital manipulation. With film, you must get it in camera. And that is the art of it, that is the craft.
Like with everything in life, art is a constant learning and growing of one’s self. Look into the early works of any artist that you admire and compare them to things done later in their careers. The one thing thing that is constant is an evolution of their own unique process. It is ever growing and changing as we explore new ideas and possibilities. Much in the same way we learn, grow and change in our own lives.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The art community in Atlanta is thriving and there are fantastic galleries all over the city to check out and support. You could spend a week just trying to see them all. I have stayed over on the west side of town for most of my adult life and the West Midtown Arts District is booming. Castleberry Hill is also a great neighborhood for art and culture. I love good food and there is plenty of that to go around. No matter what you’re in the mood for, there is a fantastic place where you can get what you’re craving. If you want authentic international eats, the Buford Highway Corridor is where to get it. I’m also a huge music fan, and hands down the best place to see a show in Atlanta is the Tabernacle.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Growing up I was always interested in art and enjoyed it very much. It was about the only thing I feel I was ever somewhat good at in school. My mother especially always nurtured my artistic spirit. She, in her own right has always been an artist in various ways. She has always supported my passions and that has kept them thriving. Also, my father for instilling in me a work ethic. If anyone thinks trying to make a career in the arts is easy, it couldn’t be further from the truth. You have to be determined and work tirelessly towards your goals to achieve them. Nothing in life is handed to you, you have to put in the time and effort to become good at something. I think of another artist whose work i deeply respect when he was asked how long it took him to complete a particular piece. His response to this question was simply, 30 or so years. Because that’s what it takes, years of labor, passion and experience.
I’d also like to shoutout the hardest photography professor one could ever have teach them. I’m ribbing him a bit here, but Phil Bekker during my time at the Art Institute of Atlanta was considered by the student body to be the toughest professor to take. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I was determined to take his classes and I’m glad I did. Phil taught me more about photography both commercially and artistically than anyone else. I still like his feedback because I respect him as an artist. If I post a piece on social and he likes it, I know it’s a good one.
And of course my beautiful family. My amazing wife for loving me and always putting up with and supporting me in my artistic endeavors. My two children for keeping life crazy. Everyday is something new and you have to be on your toes, but that’s what keeps it interesting. I pour a lot of my soul into making art, but they get the biggest chunk of it.