We had the good fortune of connecting with David Clifton-Strawn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi David, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
I approach my craft as a daily practice. I don’t wait for inspiration. I get up and work through images and try improve in some way every day. I don’t improve every day, but the discipline of the process ensures that I am always growing, and the effort is reflected in the quality of the photographs I create with my clients.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I specialize in classic studio portraiture. My aesthetic employs a clean, direct approach, which not only shows the physical beauty and dignity of my subjects, but also allows a connection beyond the surface. My approach to portraiture follows in the same tradition as Robert Mapplethorpe, Yousuf Karsh, Irving Penn, and Peter Hujar. I picked up a camera 7 years ago and began working in studio portrait photography 4 years ago. I approach it like any job. I get up and work through the day at my craft. Every day. Regardless if the inspiration is there or not.
One of the lessons of this journey has been discovering how collaboration is a huge component of success. The creation of the portraits is something to which both the subject and I contribute. And the journey of building a business has also been collaborative. I have not arrived at where I am today alone, I have had the support, advice and critiques of many people.
In addition to my commercial studio work, I have several ongoing projects which are part of my personal practice. I have just completed a 2-year portrait survey of creatives in Atlanta from many disciplines. I am committed in these projects to focus on populations in Atlanta.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love how Atlanta has so many neighborhoods, each with its own distinct personality. In Midtown, we would spend an afternoon on the patio at Cyprus Street Pint and Plate, and take in the latest exhibit at the High Museum.
One day would be spent in Buckhead, grabbing some food at Bell Street Burrito and visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art of GA at TULA.
We would definitely grab a burger at The Vortex in Little Five Points and then go for bike ride on the PATH Stone Mountain Trail, which runs from Centennial Park to Stone Mountain Park. We would stop in Decatur for some tacos at Taqueria Del Sol and a coffee at Dancing Goats.
One day would be spent visiting the art galleries of Miami Circle and West Midtown.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband Billy has been amazingly supportive as I worked a full-time job and ran a photography business part-time. He has provided guidance, advice and love. I also owe a debt to John Mason, who taught me the basics of studio portrait lighting, Beth Lilly, Judith Pishnery and Donna Garcia of The Atlanta Photography group, Sharon Moskowitz for her promotion of my work, and Douglas Stratton for including me in the artist collective at The Newspaper Factory and his endless support and advice.