Photography Show Decades In The Making Comes To POB Library

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An exhibit decades in the making, photographer David P. Doran is finally debuting his latest solo show at the Plainview – Old Bethpage Public Library this month. The show opened on April 3 and will be available for the public until April 28.

David P. Doran (Photo credit: Ed Lefkowitz)

This show is titled Man’s Relationship with the Natural Forces of Entropy, which contrasts images of young women with scenes of gradual decline into disorder. The featured photographs were taken over the course of many years, which speaks to Doran’s perfectionism and dedication to achieving his “perfect shot”. “It is said that a photographer may go through a mile of film before a good picture is obtained,” he quoted. “You can see this in that my prints date from 1986 to 2003. It took that time to get enough pictures to put an exhibit together.”

What constitutes a shot worthy of exhibition? According to Doran, there are two main types of photography: documentary and expressive. “Expressive photography requires an emotional reaction when you look at a picture, though you may not be aware of it.” This is the type of photography that Doran has pursued; photography that has a hot-wire into your emotions. He has been perhaps his own greatest critic in the pursuit of photographs that evoke such a response. “If it doesn’t do anything for you, then the picture isn’t strong enough.”

Doran has perfected his process over the years. He almost always uses a yellow filter to correct skin tones and increase contrast. All but one of the photographs – Young Woman with Guitar, 1989 – were taken using a tripod, to ensure a particular sharpness and composition. His work employs a roll film camera. “The roll film cameras, when used with a tripod, are really what most photographers would call 4 x 5 vision. In other words, you’d be shooting with a tripod the same way you would with a 4 x 5 sheet film – or an 8 x 10 – sheet film camera. You’ll be working very slowly, and really exploring the four corners of the frame.”

God’s Half Acre, Southhold, NY, 1986. (Photo courtesy of David P. Doran)

He has also employed the use of a 35 mm camera, though sparingly. As he explains, “35mm is something which is really for action photography or spontaneous or candid photography.” While Doran can appreciate more spontaneous forms of photography, he notes that it is not his style, and that he much prefers structure in his shots. He focuses on every element of his shots, including the background – which he feels photographers sometimes forget about. “My theory is that the background is as important as the foreground. If the foreground is too cluttered or is too busy, the picture in most cases won’t work.”

This is not to say that Doran plans out every element of his shoots, as he notes that some of his photographs spurred from an inclination more than a strict plan. “Sometimes I have an idea of what I’m looking for in nature; old buildings or peeling paint, or the Ansel Adams great landscape. Other times, I’m walking through the woods or just driving around, looking for something that fits the idea of what I have.” He cites one of the photos – Mono Lake, California, 1986 – as an example. “I knew what Mono Lake looked like, I wanted to go there. And then when I got there, the question was to find a composition which I felt was going to work. But the design idea was to go to Mono Lake in the first place.”

For many photos in the exhibit, Doran had the opportunity to work with models; an experience he quite enjoyed. “I was really lucky with who I had!” He believes in the collaborative nature of photography, and felt fortunate to work with each model as an individual capable of improving on his ideas. “[Going into a shoot] I have certain ideas, but it can be a collaboration between yourself and the model. For a lot of images, I did have preconceived ideas. But then you might have an idea you want to work into it with the model you’re using.”

Jenny, 1997. (Photo courtesy of David P. Doran)

One of the best examples is his photo Jenny, 1997. “She was one of my favorite models. The picture was really her idea, all I did was frame it.” He also references Magnolia at Welwyn, 1998 as an example of collaborative efforts. He explained that Magnolia was an actress who really grasped his concept. “My part of the idea was to get her into a corner. The corner works as the proscenium of stage. The proscenium is the area in front of the curtain on a stage. So, she’s posing as an actress in this corner, which is a stand-in for the proscenium of the stage.” The ideas behind poses came from Magnolia herself.

Watkins, Glen, 1987. (Photo courtesy of David P. Doran)

Doran is thrilled to be putting on his exhibit, but he does lament that not as many photography shows occur on Long Island anymore, and have for the most part migrated to the city. He hopes to encourage others to host or feature their own shows on the island as well and revitalize the photography scene here in Nassau County.

If you are interested in discovering Doran’s work for yourself, the Plainview – Old Bethpage Library is located at 999 Old Country Road in Plainview. Open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Open Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Open Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. And open Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

An Artist Statement from Doran:
“My photographs present the viewer with a sense of the passage of time and man’s relationship with the natural forces of entropy. This is reinforced by contrasting portraits of young women to scenes of erosion and age. Stylistically, my work is 35mm and roll film available light photography. All prints are gelatin silver wet darkroom prints. The exhibited photographs have been influenced by a number of the great 20th century modernist photographers. These masters are Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Wynn Bullock, Minor White and Judy Dater.

Additional Information About the Artist:
David P. Doran graduated from Hofstra University with a BA of Business Administration, Cum Laude, in 1975. He completed photography courses at Hofstra, as well as Nassau Community College and Mohawk Valley Community College. In addition, he attended photography workshops including the 1986 Ansel Adams Photography Workshop. He was a member of the Camera Club of New York from 1990 to 2007, where he produced the prints in this exhibit. Doran has been written up in the Long Island Voice, New York Times, and Newsday. He has featured in several group exhibits between 1991 and 2022. This will be his second solo exhibit.

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