Doug Winter’s work was one of the 2019 Rfotofolio Selections. We are pleased to share his work and words.
Please tell us about yourself.
My name is Doug Winter and I’m an editorial and fine art photographer focused on bringing social awareness to the underrepresented in communities.
Where did you get your photographic training?
I received an AA degree in photography from the Art Institute of Colorado with Best Portfolio Commendation.
Why do you create?
It’s not easy to explain, but in the past it’s just something I’ve always felt a need to do in my life. Currently it’s to raise awareness and focus a spotlight on the underrepresented people in the community where I live.
Who has had an influence on your creative process?
Tod Kapke, my wife Kathryn Mayo, Scott Moore and Rev. F.D. Reese.
Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time.
When I was very young, I saw a drawing by Michelangelo of waterfowl at the Denver Museum of Art. It has always stayed with me. I liked the way the lines moved on the page. They were perfect, as if made by a machine and not a human hand. The drawing was small in size, and I was small too. My older cousin came over and held me up a little higher to get a better vantage point. The drawings almost looked like photographs, but it was not a photograph it was a drawing. I had to look up through the glass box that protected the fragile drawing on the faded paper, and I thought, “I wish there was a glass box to protect me.”
What image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson?
While working with my wife Kathryn Mayo in Selma, Alabama I took a behind-the-scenes image of her setting up a portrait of Dr. Fredrick Douglas Reese. He was a leader of Selma’s “Courageous Eight” group that worked to end unfair voter registration procedures in Selma in 1965. His letter representing the Dallas County Voters League urged Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to come to Selma to lead a growing effort to register black voters. When the long walk from Selma to Montgomery began in late March of 1965, Reese was in the front row, not far from King who led the epic march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. (cited from the Montgomery Advertiser Newspaper)
While Kathryn was preparing chemistry in the darkroom for her ambrotype I spent time alone with Rev. F.D. Reese and his family talking about Selma, he spoke of the importance of community and doing what he felt was right and it wasn’t just about the right to “vote” but “what are we going to do with the vote,” were his words.
“I don’t care how dark it gets, after every night there comes a day.”
This photograph and meeting one of the courageous eight, changed how I think about my purpose and intent as a photographer and as a citizen in my own community.
What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?
A good day for me creatively is going out for a walk at Friendship Park and meeting people, talking and clearing my mind and being a good listener to a conversation helps carry the flow of creativity for that day. I also enjoy silence. This gives me time to sit alone with my thoughts, I write some of them down which gives them importance.
If everything goes right: walking, talking, listening and silence I’m able to follow through on an idea, even if it’s a sketch and it’s not completed but has direction, this makes a good day for me creatively.
Please tell us about the work you submitted for the Rfotofolio Call.
The work I submitted to Rfotofolio Call, “Hope against Hope, Vignettes of the Unsheltered.” is an ongoing project that started in December 2016. The images I submitted are part of a larger body of work of photographs of individuals living outside who are unsheltered and homeless. This project is intended to initiate and inspire societal awareness, increase understanding, and bring dignity to the unsheltered in Sacramento through the honesty of photography.
Each participant is given copies of their photographs to share with family, friends or on social media. The portraits created for the Loaves and Fishes guests give a small piece of hope, acceptance, respect, and friendship to those who may not have experienced much in their lives. Along with this, the photograph is a tool to help them along in their journey to find a job, connect with a loved one or see themselves in a new light.
This project is extremely important to the community and has already proven to be a catalyst for change. The portraits and conversations allow viewers to look into the eyes of the homeless guest, see them as a “real” person and glimpse into the obstacles they face being homeless. It allows for a depth of compassion and brings awareness through social media and other outlets.
If you could spend a day with any other photographer or artist living or passed who would it be?
Great question. It’s a toss-up. There are so many people that come to mind. Diane Arbus’s photographs and her intent toward the work she created has always meant a great deal to me.
William Mortensen is someone I have the highest respect for photographically and I’ve always wanted to talk with him.
How important is the photographic community to you?
The photo community is very important to me. I tend to work within an online photo community and not the traditional photo community in my area. The great thing is I found like-minded people online who I enjoy supporting, talking with and with their help and support I am able to show my work in other areas of the country and world.
What equipment have you found essential in the making of your work?
The kind of camera gear a person uses makes little difference when making photographs.
Allowing yourself to be open without judgement, embracing honesty when meeting a subject and not inserting yourself into the image. This is paramount to me. Having the correct intent and focus are essential equipment to the images I create.
Is there something in photography that you would like to try in the future?
I’d like to collaborate with Dave LaChapel on a conceptual photography project that promotes acceptance, peace, and understating of persecuted people throughout the world.
What’s on the horizon?
I am continuing work on a new series of images based on the last year of my father’s life.
Thank you Doug.
To learn more about the work of Doug Winter please visit his site at, Doug Winter.