© Dale Niles

Today we share the work of Dale Niles, one of the selections made by Willie Osterman  in this years Rfotofolio Call for Entry. 

“There is a fairytale quality to this work that impresses me. It makes me feel young again to view and become part of the tableaux as they draw me in.” Willie Osterman

© Dale Niles

Would you please tell a little us about yourself?

I was born in Norfolk, Virgina. I am the oldest of three children. My dad was a civil engineer. He helped design and maintain the construction of bridges. During our younger years my mother stayed home with the brood. Being in the business of bridge building meant that when a job was complete we would move. The up side was were always near water usually by the shore.

I do not come from a family of photographers. My grandmother was a painter and my mother always had her hand in the arts, be it painting, collaging, decoupaging or pottery. I remember her taking large goose eggs and carefully cutting the shells to make hinged doors that would open to a magical scene. I was so enamoured by her ability to create.

How did you get started in photography?

My parents always took the usual family photos as we grew up as well as filming different events. I would use the family camera, usually to take funny pictures of my siblings or friends. I am not sure all that film was ever developed.

Like my mother I had my hand in different arts before finding that photography is my medium. I have painted as well as designed jewelry.

When I was given my first camera as a birthday gift, I mostly photographed landscapes, plants and flowers. Things I felt were beautiful and I wanted to preserve the moment. I would occasionally include family and friends in the images but it wasn’t until my children were born that this need to preserve and record everything, every part of a being emerged. My mother remarked on some of my images ”the pictures are great but why are you taking pictures of the babies feet?” I did not photograph for anything other than the storage of the memories.

During this time, a friend of mine gave me his old darkroom equipment and I set up my first darkroom in a small half bath upstairs in my house. This only fueled the fire of my already growing passion.

Would you share with us one image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time?

Harry Callahan’s image, “Eleanor” Chicago 1947 (close-up of her face) so simple yet so poignant.

Which photographers and other artists’ work do you admire?

I am so diverse in my work it is hard to narrow down. One of my influences is actually a painter, Edward Hopper. His image,  “Nighthawks” is another image that stays with me.

For photographers, Henri Cartier-Bresson is one. His ability to capture life on the run. It is not the posed subject but the unchoreographed ones that are hardest to capture.

I have just seen the Irving Penn exhibit at the Met. His diversity from still life to fashion photography and the connection with his subjects in portraits is beyond inspiring.
Jerry Uelsmann’s ability to translate what is in his mind to a tangible montage image is genius.

What has been your most memorable experience as far as your photographic work is concerned?

To have a piece of my work purchased for the permanent collection at MOMA GA.

© Dale Niles
© Dale Niles

Please tell us about the portfolio of work you submitted to our call.

I wanted to bring significance to the seeming insignificant. My series “Solidifying Roots” was born out of the need to somehow preserve the items that were left after the passing of my parents. I wanted to create stories with them in an attempt to pass on my heritage and give it longevity. My mother was an only child and my father had one sister who had no children. My siblings have no children so I feel that I am the family historian destined to carry on the memories to my children that I hope they will one day pass to their children.

What Image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson?

A photo of an empty closet at the home where I spent most of my years growing up. It was after I had moved my dad out and I had gone back to finish packing up the rest of the house. When I took this image I really did not think too much about it. But when it was developed I felt nostalgic and a little sad. It was from my home, a place of so many memories and it no longer existed. The home was eventually torn down. This represents the importance of photography to me and the feeling a photograph can manifest.

What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?

Nailing the photo that I was playing out in my head or a serendipitous capture that was not expected. Having the time to play, my head clear of the day-to-day to do list and ready to create the ideas bursting in my head and let creativity flow.

Do you have any favorite pieces of equipment that you find essential in the making of your work?

I can not really say that I have a favorite piece of equipment but I do rely on my brain and thought process because that is how I interpret what I see into my visual language. I hope that it continues to work for me! The first time some one ask “how do you see to do what you do?” My immediate response was “it was in my brain.”

© Dale Niles

What is on the horizon?

I continue to work on the “Solidifying Roots” series as well as a series that I have been working on for over three years, “What Lies Within”, the eclectic collections of Andrea Noel.

An acquaintance which has now become a dear friend, is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. She has over sixty diverse collections of interesting objects that it is too difficult to expand on in just a few sentences. Stay tuned.

And I love to have the time to work on montages that include the photos of people from the boxes and boxes that I have acquired from my parents home. Some of the people I know, some I do not. But even if I do not know them, somehow they were connected to my family because a photo was taken of them and kept.

Thank you Dale.

To learn more about the work of Dale Niles please visit her site at Dale Niles. 



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