The Internal Motivator: Jeff Dunas
Introduction by Dirck Halstead
At a time when many photographers are scrambling after assignments and worrying about where the next job will come from, Jeff Dunas stands out as a shining example of how a photographer can continue to build success upon success by following his or her inner voices.
Dunas was born in Los Angles in 1954, and began his professional life in photography at the age of 18. From 1972 until 1980 he contributed photo-essays and portfolios to publications worldwide.
In 1977, he moved to Paris, and in 1981 founded the Melrose Publishing Company. He created the Collector's Editions, Ltd., a mail order distributor of fine art photography publications, in 1983. This laid the groundwork for his "Blue Series," which resulted in the publication of 24 fine art photography books by various authors, including "Paper Dolls" by Art Kane, and "By The Sea" by Robert Farber.
From 1985 until 1988, Dunas wrote and published over 100 interviews and profiles with photographers for Collector's Photography and Darkroom Photography magazines.
In 1989, moving back to Los Angeles, he returned to shooting commercial, fashion, beauty, and fine art photography. It was during this period he began a prolific series of special projects. These included the "American Indian Series;" "Disappearing America," which documented life in 62 small towns along the Oregon Trail; "Legends of The Blues," a photo-essay on Havana; and the Rural Mississippi Delta, a project sponsored by Agfa and Mamiya.
While building his "dream" studio in LA, he produced and directed a 26-minute film entitled "Willy Ronis: Menilmontant/ Belleville, Les Fruits du Hazard," which was shown during the Month of Photography in Paris.
His new studio became an important part of his shooting style. He created small sets, both indoor and out, where he could place his subjects in various backgrounds. It is here that he has photographed countless movie stars, models and entertainers.
Unlike many celebrity photographers, Dunas does not cultivate relationships with his famous subjects. He doesn't even see their movies. A common remark coming from these stars when first meeting him is, "you don't even know who I am, do you?" To Dunas, they are models, whose job it is to do their best for his camera.
The key to his self-assurance and production is that he also takes time to work on books and exhibitions. He makes sure he always has several of these self-assigned projects going. The "State of The Blues," the 1998 Golden Light Award, and the "Keeping the Blues Alive " award from the Blues Foundation, and his "American Pictures," which will be published by Konemann Verlag this October, comes from these bodies of work.
At 46, Jeff Dunas is at the top of his business, but with his creativity there is no telling what's next for him.
RealVideo Interview with Jeff Dunas
Back to the Contents Page