PHOTOGRAPHER TO WATCH – MICHAEL DUMLER
Most men would kill for one glance through his lens. Fashion and street-style photographer Michael C. Dumler has seen the most beautiful women on this planet, worked with Helmut Lang, Barbara Bui, and AG Jeans, is regularly featured in publications such as GQ, and owns the streets of London, Paris, Milan and New York like no other. But there is more to it than meets the eye. We have talked to the model whisperer from California about what photography really is and learned why it saved his life…
“Think back to when you met someone who is now your mentor, friend, or perhaps wife, what did you first notice? Did you notice how they spoke or their taste in films? Most likely you noticed what they were wearing or how they held themselves. For me I met one of the most important people of my life in 2010 on Abbot Kinney. The first thing I noticed about him was how well dressed he was. This friend taught me to pursue my passions relentlessly. I’ve found in my two years on Abbot Kinney that the people that attract my eye often have amazing stories that inspire me and enrich my life. With this in mind I hope to share with you what I see and am inspired by. These are the stories I capture everyday, I hope you find yours.” Michael C. Dumler
WTL: What milestones in life have inspired you to become a photographer?
MD: It was when I stopped drinking that I began photography. I had always been a writer prior to taking photos, but writing can be a very isolated and dark way of story telling for me. Photography is light and beautiful, which perhaps is why I focus so much on fashion, travel, and beautiful things.
WTL: What was your life like before going into photography?
MD: Well, I stopped drinking, so I did quite a lot of that for a long time, which didn’t always work out so well for me. I am glad for my checkered past though. Just prior to photography, I was working for Michael Deyermond at his rare bookstore in Santa Monica.
WTL: Who has inspired you on your journey?
MD: I have been very fortunate over the last few years with inspiration. So many amazing people have come into my life during this process. Adam Katz Sinding probably has had the greatest impact on my career and helped push me to the next level.
WTL: How would you describe “photography” to someone who doesn’t know much about it – what makes it exciting for you?
MD: Photography is storytelling. It’s a way for the photographer to translate his or hers take on the world to others without the use of words.
WTL: Which three words sum up what MICHAEL DUMLER Photography stands for?
MD: Story, beauty, escape.
WTL: How would you describe the “signature” of your work?
MD: I guess my signature would be models, I am most well known for that I think, but who knows for sure…
WTL: Your images are?
WTL: You capture people to possibly uncover their amazing stories. Who attracts your eye?
MD: For now its beauty in the traditional sense, but the nature of my work will be changing slowly over the next year or two and hopefully for the course of my life.
WTL: What was the most outstanding “story” so far?
MD: I think the trip I just took to Jamaica was probably one of the most interesting stories I’ve shot. Such a beautiful country and the people are fascinating. I am planning a second longer trip there to focus on some new projects.
WTL: In a dream world, whom would you want to capture and take a picture of?
MD: Johnny Cash.
WTL: What does Abbot Kinney mean to you?
WTL: What do you love about Los Angeles?
MD: Access to nature.
WTL: What do you hate about Los Angeles?
WTL: What inspires you on a daily basis?
MD: My past inspires me to stay the course and push myself.
WTL: Who is your muse?
MD: Clara Settje.
WTL: How do you formulate your ideas and how do you develop them?
MD: There is no formula and very chaotically.
WTL: What was your most exciting project so far?
MD: Shooting for J Brand in 4 different cities around the world.
WTL: In your opinion, what are the characteristics a successful photographer should have?
MD: A unique perspective, voice, and style.
WTL: What was the best advice someone ever gave you?
MD: Shoot movement. Adam Katz Sinding.
WTL: What advice would you give young students who want to become a photographer?
MD: Shoot. Shoot constantly.
WTL: What equipment do you work with?
MD: My two main cameras are a Canon 1DX and a Leica M240, but I shoot with a lot of film cameras as well.
WTL: How important are trends in photography?
MD: I don’t think they are or at least I am not aware of them.
WTL: What do you predict about the future of photography?
MD: Because of the rise of cameras and social media, everyone has the ability to make photographs and push them out into the world, but unless there is some depth or relevance, I don’t think they will garner attention.
WTL: How important is film?
MD: Film is beautiful and another way of telling a story. I see more film in my future.
WTL: How important is social media for you personally and for your work?
MD: I have a love hate relationship with social media. It has been a great tool for me but also makes it very difficult to disconnect.
WTL: This being said, is Instagram a blessing or a curse for photography?
WTL: So, what do you like about Instagram and what would you like to change?
MD: Instagram is great because it’s an open platform for everyone and at least half responsible for where I am today. I’m not sure what I would want to change about it other than how much time I spend on it… Which is way too much.
WTL: What are your top 5 Instagram accounts that you love to follow?
WTL: What in life makes a fire burn inside of you?
MD: Finding passionate people. The people that are not bored, that yearn for more, and live their life in such a way that it inspires others to stoke that fire in themselves.
WTL: If you could to tell us a story you have never told before, what would it be?
MD: I’m not sure I have a story that I’ve never told before that’s appropriate for an interview. Recently I have been having moments where I just stop and laugh at my life. When I was in Jamaica I was staying in a beautiful beachside cottage at the Jamaican Inn and I lost it sitting on my porch one morning. Seriously, I just laughed so hard my stomach hurt. The contrast of my life now to what it was not so long ago is insane. Sitting there on the porch in Jamaica I felt like I didn’t deserve this life and how good it is and maybe I don’t, but I know that I can use this momentum I have to hopefully do something good for people. I feel I owe a debt for all the second chances I have been given in this life and I want to do something that matters, that changes just one persons life or hell just one persons day for the better. This isn’t really a story but its what came out in some disjointed way. Sorry.
WTL: …thank you for sharing your story and for being able to talk about it. Just by this alone you do touch and you will change others.
WTL: What do you like to do when you are not working?
MD: Take photos… which means I am basically working all the time.
WTL: What is your idea of happiness?
MD: Traveling with someone I love and creating work together.
WTL: What is your least favorite part of the day?
MD: Having to go to sleep.
WTL: What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
MD: Their passion.
WTL: What is your favorite band and what music do you listen to?
MD: Kyle Mcneill out of Venice, CA and Johnny Cash.
WTL: What was the last book you read (and liked)?
MD: All the Pretty Horses.
WTL: Which movie would you watch again and why?
MD: For Lovers Only. It’s beautifully shot and makes you want to go on a road trip.
WTL: Who is your favorite actor/actress?
MD: Can you really pick one? Phillip Seymour Hoffmann has been on my mind lately.
WTL: What is your dream destination you love to travel to?
WTL: What is your favorite restaurant?
MD: Joseph Leonard in west village.
WTL: What are the three items you couldn’t live without?
MD: Camera, coffee, and passport.
WTL: Windows down, the song you are playing is?
MD: On My Way to Heaven by Kyle Mcneill.
WTL: Where do you go for inspiration, peace of mind?
MD: Joshua Tree.
WTL: When you were a child you dreamed you would grow up to be?
MD: Navy Seal or CIA officer.
WTL: If you can leave us with one thought, what would it be?
MD: Don’t do more necessarily, there is a lot of memes and people that keep saying do more. Perhaps we should not focus on doing more and instead we should do better. Do better for ourselves and the people around us.
Picture credit: Michael C Dumler