What's good with photography is that it can make you feel emotions of all sorts. And if that is truly the case, then it's the sudden surge of youthful energy we're feeling right now while looking at Dennis Auburn's photographs. Check out more of his electrifying work and words after the jump.
Ever wondered what it takes to be a 20-something photographer trying to make it out in the real world? Let Dennis Auburn tell you his story and everything in between. Oh, and did we mention that he shoots on film with amazing vision and youthful energy? Check out our feature on his work here.
Hi, Dennis! We’d like to thank you for finding the time for this interview! We’re excited to feature you again on the magazine.
Thank you for having me again!
You may get this question in a lot on interviews but still we’d like to ask: how and when did you start shooting on film?
I had bought a Canon FTb SLR from a nearby antique shop when I was 17 years old. At the time, I had just moved away from my country hometown and into a huge city and the transition was tough. Shooting with film on my Canon FTb really distracted me from all of this and I got hooked ever since.
What makes analogue photography special for you? Is there anything specific about shooting on film that makes it particularly stand out?
I love how spontaneous film can be. Double exposures are my absolute favorite and I never know what the result will be but that sense of excitement is what keeps me attached to analogue photography.
What makes your approach to shooting with film different from shooting with digital?
I first started shooting on 35mm film and though it took practice it really taught me how valuable a photo can be. Don’t get me wrong, digital photography has many advantages but it’s easy to shoot hundreds of photos and lose track of what you need to improve on and where your strong points lie.
Your photographic body of work really works around youth – its poetic vibe and romantic tendencies are very apparent in your work. Can you talk more about that?
Since I’m young now, I tend to surround my work around my age group. Growing up, I’ve always been fascinated with youth, mainly my peers. The more people I meet, it’s interesting to see how people choose to live their own youth.
Your photographs are wistful and almost make us feel like we’re in a heightened state of ecstasy. How do you compose your photographs? What do you see in your viewfinder when you shoot your photos?
If I’m working with a team, I need a moodboard to get the idea of what I want out as clearly as possible. It always comes out differently then I intended but, again, that spontaneous nature improvises new ideas. When I’m looking through my viewfinder, I’m in my own world. I start confusing reality with dreaming where I’m not rushed and it’s my time.
How do you compose your shots? Does it come from a vision or do you center on a specific effect that you’d like to achieve in your photos? Please talk us through your creative process.
I daydream constantly, probably more than I should. Each shot is more or less a dream or vision I’ve had in my head for awhile.
What’s your most favorite part of your work? Before, during or after? Why?
The whole process is my favorite. Brainstorming ideas for the shot beforehand, getting the shot in the moment, and then afterwards grabbing some tacos after a long constructive day before editing photos. Majority of the time, it never feels like work. It’s always been a theraputic session no matter how stressful it could potentially be.
We really like the bokeh shots and amazing effects like the exploding lights and galaxies in your photos. Can you say that this is the “Dennis Auburn” signature in your pictures?
I can’t really say what my signature or style is at this point. Only being 21, I’m still trying to figure out who I am and same goes with my photographs.
Do you have personal rules that you apply to your own work? Please share them with our readers.
I’m a complete sucker for colors. If the tones in my photos are not up to par personally, than I won’t use it.
Some of your photographs remind us of one of our Golden Rules – “Don’t think, just shoot.” Do you ever shoot from the hip?
I can’t think of a shoot where I haven’t. I’m constantly in the weirdest positions while shooting. If I find myself dirty rolling around on the floor or positioning myself on random objects after a shoot, then it was a good day.
As a young photographer yourself with already so much under your belt, what tips can you give to other aspiring analogue shooters out there?
Don’t stop. Keep shooting. Sometimes it feels like you can’t reach that creative spirit, but that can always be a positive thing. It lets you find your own unique outlook.
Can you itemize your cameras and film choices for our readers?
Kodak Portra: 400 and 800 speed
Fuji Instax camera
What’s your favorite camera and film combo?
My Nikon N80 has never failed me. It’s been through dirt, sand, and survived a waterfall. Pair that with Kodak Portra 400 speed film and you have a perfect couple.
What is your take on photography as an art?
There’s something about photography that struck me as beautiful. It gives the opportunity to warp reality. My father was an artist and taught me how to draw, paint, and sculpt as a kid and I knew that I always wanted to create. Finding it hard to get my thoughts from my mind onto paper, photography has made it a breeze to capture that. It’s made me notice little details about the world that we sometimes overlook.
What do you want your viewers to take away from your photographic body of work? What do you want them to see in your photographs?
I really want people to make their own interpretation of my work. I know often times I see something completely different than what my audience sees.
Which artists inspire you in your work? Any artists that we should follow?
When I first got into photography, I wasn’t familiar with any other photographers. I first came across Tamara Lichtenstein’s work and instanlty fell in love. I have been a huge fan of her dreamy austhetic and her imaginivitive visuals. She’s been a huge inspiration of mine for awhile and not only that I’m glad I can call her a good friend of mine.
Given the chance to collaborate with any artist or photographer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
Hands down, Salvador Dali. My father showed me his work at a young age and I have been in love with his surrealism and creative process. Dali collaborated with a lot of artist and tried different mediums throughout his artistic career which is what I would love to do in the future.
Have you ever tried Lomo cameras? Any particular favorite? What makes it stand out?
I’ve used a Fisheye and a Holga camera for candid moments. I like to separate my work from what is my own imagination and what are the moments I want to remember. Lomo cameras have done me justice preserving great moments with my friends and acquaintances.
What’s next for Dennis Auburn?
I have projects I’m aching to get out there but I’m not really sure what’s next for me. I know I will always be submerged in trying to create. I only what that to grow from here on out taking me to new destinations and meeting interesting, open individuals along the way.
Any last words for our readers?
The only advice I tell people is to travel as much as you can while you’re young. It’s the healthiest thing you could do for yourself. Even small day trips are worth the time to get out there. And who knows, you might find a little piece of yourself somewhere you’ve never been before.
Check out Dennis Auburn’s analogue world on his website. All photos used in this article are copyright of the artist. The artist has approved the use of his photos by Lomography for this interview.
Liked this interview? Check out these Lomography sit-downs with other artists:
A Quick Chat With Lindsey Lee
A Quick Chat With Susan Burnstine
A Quick Chat With Lauren Field
An Interview with Film Photographer Julia Tröndle
Lomography Chats with Illustrator-Lomographer Irina Shepel