About Dennis Dilmaghani
Imagine, as a youth, the delight of seeing a photograph you took appear magically on a piece of paper immersed in liquid. After this initial enjoyment of the technical process and learning how the latent image appeared in the developer, my appreciation for the artistic photographic image soon followed. Developing an ability to visualize, capture and print photographic images became my welcome challenge.
Following a Kodak Brownie, my first "real" camera came as a gift from my father. He wanted me to have his prized 35mm German camera, a Zeiss-Ikon Contax, vintage 1950. Despite my father's praise of the camera, my mother, a trained artist/painter with a keen eye, frequently commented the photographs it produced lacked fine detail when the negatives were enlarged..
At age 18, a family friend taught me the basics of traditional black & white film developing and darkroom printing techniques. Workshops with local photographers in the New York area provided exposure to aesthetics of photography. As my interest deepened, my mother's comment rang clear. I realized the limited detail an enlarged 35mm negative could yield.
Master photographers such as Strand, Evans, Weston, and Adams provided inspiration. Those photographers all used the classic large format "view camera" requiring sheet film. Sheet films, typically 4"x5", 5"x7", 8"x10" in size (and larger), many times the size of a 35mm negative, yield marvelous, sharp detail. The view camera requires tripod support and presents the image upside down on a glass viewing screen. This allows the photographer to compose the image carefully while working under a blanket like "dark cloth". By today’s technical standards - very old fashioned ! Yet, I appreciated that the slower, contemplative process provided a wonderful model for serious photography.
Encouragement came to me from a former assistant of Ansel Adams, Liliane De Cock, who worked at a New York publishing house. Liliane encouraged me, then age 26, to show my work to Mr. Adams on an upcoming trip to California. What a remarkable opportunity ! I visited his home and he offered gracious and thoughtful suggestions atop strong criticism. To my surprise, he asked for a print of one image that he particularly liked ! Today, that photograph is in the Center for Creative Photography Collection in Tucson, Arizona, as part of the Ansel and Virginia Adams Collection. (click here to see the image and Ansel Adams's response). Workshops with Ansel Adams (and many other distinguished photographers I've admired) provide lasting benefits and prove the learning experience never ends.
I became interested in digital imaging in the late nineties, though not convinced the quality could match that of a large format camera - aside from the significant investment in digital equipment and related computers, software, etc. Over the years, digital quality evolved dramatically. This prompted me to explore digital photography in depth, including color imaging. For the seriously inclined, there's a steep "learning curve". The digital process and its color component are both challenging and rewarding.
I continue to use film (analog) as well as contemporary digital processes, often in combination. For example, if using a film camera, I'll process the B&W film in a "wet darkroom". Then, I digitally scan the negative, post process in PhotoShop or other imaging software and make the final print via a high quality digital or inkjet printer. Digital software tools provide a degree of control unattainable in the traditional the wet dark room printing process.
At times, I considered pursuing photography as a profession taking on projects including newspaper assignments, architectural photography, magazine advertising and even aerial photography. Professional work seemed very attractive from a financial standpoint. However, satisfying the requirements of others proved far less rewarding to my artistic soul compared to the enjoyment and satisfaction my personal work provided. While I admired photographers who succeeded at doing both, I decided to be my best and only photography "client". Accordingly, my vocation is in businesses unrelated to photography.