by Bill Dobbins

Bill Dobbins, Helmut Newton, Brenda Venus

I've been a photographer for a long time. From way back in the says of film and printing in the darkroom. Back when there was still a demand for large format cameras - 4X5, 8X10 and even 11X14. Back when "digital" referred to a watch you had to operate with two hands.

A great thing about digital cameras is that they let young photographers shoot a whole lot more and learn faster than back when we used film. It was too expensive. But one thing film did teach was to make each exposure count. Edward Weston and Ansel Adams used to go out with just a few film holders for the day. I preferred medium format (A Mamiya RZ) so I didn't have to shoot nearly that economically. But I learn to to compose each image deliberately and carefully and to get the lighting and exposure right. We shot a lot of Polaroids because there was no image on the back of the camera to look at. This was especially necessary shooting color transparency film because any post production adjustments would be difficult and expensive.

Like most experienced photographers I learned to shoot almost any kind of subject - people, places and things. Documentary, lifestyle, products. Advertising or editorial. But from early on my main interest was people - particularly bodies. I remember shooting a glamor photo for my college newspaper and being thrilled at how gorgeous the young female model looked in the final result. It was magic.

Working as I have for so long in the fitness industry, bodies became my favorite subject. In most cases, these were fit, athletic, hardbodies - mostly men at first but increasing women as we began to see more female bodybuilders, fitness and figure competitors and fitness models. The most interesting element in this kind of photo is detail. Bodies with athletic muscularity and definition create a kind of landscape that can be explored with light and contrast the way Ansel Adams photographed Yosemite.

My style evolved until it was described as graphic, classic - bold and iconic. I can create the kind of look you see on superheroes depicted on movie posters. However, as I began doing more fashion, glamor and advertising photos I came across less need to expertise in shooting muscules. But I soon found out that this direct and classic style I have developed worked for many other subjects. Shooting a direct and quickly perceivable style adds to the impace of everything from portraits and publcity photos to sexy glamor and high-fashion.

It's like having a big gun that isn't designed to shoot at any particular thing, but to have a serious impact on anything that happens to be in line with it's barrel. My photos have the equality of impacting the consciousness and emotions of the viewer, making an impression and being sticky - that is, once seen they stick in the mind and are remembered.


When I first moved to more mainstream photographic clients I often got comments to the effect that they had no interest in or need for pictures of women athletes. (Usually not men, either.) But now I have a portfolio that demonstrates how a bold and direct style of shooting like mine is has the ability to cut through the noise created by billions of photos being uploaded and penetrate the consciousness of the viewer. And be remembered. And sell magazines. And sell products. And promote brands. And enhance careers.

Get in touch and let's talk about how I can apply my abilities to helping you with your product, service or personal career.

Best wishes,

Bill Dobbins