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.  Appreciation for the artistic photographic image soon followed learning how the latent image appeared in the developer.  Developing an ability to see, capture and print photographic images became a welcome challenge. 

My first "real" camera (following a Kodak "Brownie") was a gift from my father...  His prized 35mm German camera, a Zeiss-Ikon "Contax", vintage 1950.  Despite my father's praise of the camera, my mother, a trained artist with a keen eye, frequently commented the pictures it produced lacked truly fine detail when the negative was enlarged..

A family friend taught me the basics of traditional black & white film developing and darkroom printing techniques.  Workshops with local photographers provided exposure to aesthetics of photography.  As my interest deepened, my mother's comment rang clear.  There really was a limit to the detail a 35mm negative could yield when enlarged.  The work of famous photographers such as Strand, Evans, Weston,  Adams and others, provided inspiration.  Those photographers all used an old fashioned, large format "view camera" that required sheet film.  Sheet films, typically 4"x5",  5"x7",  8"x10" in size (and larger), are many times the size of a 35mm negative and 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".   Very old fashioned !  That slower, contemplative process proved a wonderful model for more serious photography.  

Encouragement came early in my photography life from a former assistant of Ansel Adams, Liliane De Cock, who worked at a New York publishing house.  Liliane encouraged me to show my work to Mr. Adams on an upcoming trip to California.  What a remarkable opportunity !   Adams was most gracious and offered thoughtful suggestions atop strong criticism.  To my surprise, he asked for a print of one image that he particularly liked !  Today, the 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' 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.   However, over the years, digital quality has improved 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 with each other.  For example, if using a film camera, I'll process the B&W film in a "wet darkroom".  Then, 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. 

I often considered pursuing photography as a profession and, at times, took on projects including newspaper assignments, architectural photography, magazine advertising and even aerial photography. Professional work seemed very attractive from a financial standpoint.  However, meeting others' demands proved far less rewarding to my soul compared to the enjoyment and satisfaction my personal work provided.  I admired photographers who succeeded at doing both.  However, I decided I would always be my best and only photography "client".  Accordingly, my vocation is in businesses unrelated to photography.