Jeff Dunas : a look imbued with sensuality
Known for his many portraits of musicians and artists, but also for his nude series and street photography, Jeff Dunas is one of the most widely published photographers in the United States. The man has more than one string to his bow. Founder and publisher of photography magazines, he is also behind the Palm Springs Photo Festival.
He began his career in the 70s after studying at the University of California in Los Angeles. In 1974, he moved to Paris, a city that inspired him and that he particularly loved. In the years that followed, he founded a number of magazines, all with a close connection to photography. From 1989 onwards, he concentrated more on advertising, fashion, beauty and art photography.
His work has appeared in hundreds of magazines, on album covers, in books and calendars. He is also the author of 8 monographs. His work is also exhibited in museums and galleries around the world.
Although he discovered photography as a magical pastime as a child, he soon realized that he couldn’t do without it. Self-taught, sensitive to beauty with a sensual eye, his approach to photography is dynamic and lively. Through his images, he creates a magnificent imaginary world.
Your first photographic trigger ?
Jeff Dunas : I was always fascinated by machines and instruments. I was intrigued by my parents cameras ( particularly the Stereo Realist) and when I was given a Kodak Brownie Bullet it immediately became my proudest possession.
The man or woman of image who inspires you ?
Jeff Dunas : I always had great respect for those who are “all in” – great examples would be Penn, Weston, Sieff, Newton, Frank, Lindbergh. Today there’s Koudelka of course, Dan Winters and Nadav Kander.
The image you would have liked to make ?
Jeff Dunas : The image of Lisa Fonssagrives drinking tea in Morocco by Irving Penn.
The one that moved you the most ?
Jeff Dunas : The image of Bobby Kennedy shot by Bill Eppridge.
And the one that made you angry ?
Jeff Dunas : See picture by Bill Eppridge.
A key image in your personal pantheon ?
Jeff Dunas : Ira Makeshimfist 1987 and 15 others you can discover with this interview.
A photographic memory from your childhood ?
Jeff Dunas : My portrait of my mother when I was 10.
With no budget limit, what would be the work you would dream of acquiring ?
Jeff Dunas : Without any hesitation « Déjeuner sur L’Herbe » by Manet.
According to you, what is the necessary quality to be a good photographer ?
Jeff Dunas : Having a point of view and Being able to show me what you want me to see.
The secret of the perfect image, if it exists ?
Jeff Dunas : The image needs to have the tension of a snare drum.
The person you would like to photograph ?
Jeff Dunas : Mick Jagger but in 1969.
An indispensable photo book ?
Jeff Dunas : Moments Preserved by Irving Penn.
The camera of your childhood ?
Jeff Dunas : My mothers wedding present from my great Uncle Harry: Her Graflex 22 twin-lens reflex.
The one you use today ?
Jeff Dunas : Leica Monochrom and Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.
Your favorite drug ?
Jeff Dunas : Taking photographs and making prints.
The best way to disconnect for you ?
Jeff Dunas : Breadmaking.
What is your relationship with the image ?
Jeff Dunas : I never forget one I’ve seen.
Your greatest quality ?
Jeff Dunas : Perseverance.
Your latest folly ?
Jeff Dunas : Can’t say !!!
The job you would not have liked to do ?
Jeff Dunas : Hot tar roofing.
Your greatest professional extravagance ?
Jeff Dunas : Launching Collectors Photography magazine in 1985. Launching the Palm Springs Photo Festival in 2006.
What do you think are the bridges between photography and design ?
Jeff Dunas : In photography design is integral – it’s the equivalent of the eye behind the camera.
The city, the country or the culture you dream of discovering ?
Jeff Dunas : I discovered it already: Paris in 1974.
The place you never get tired of ?
Jeff Dunas : Paris.
Your biggest regret ?
Jeff Dunas : Too personal !
In terms of social networks, are you more into Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok or Tweeter and why?
Jeff Dunas : The only one I engage with is IG.
Color or B&W ?
Jeff Dunas : impossible question to answer.
Daylight or artificial light ?
Jeff Dunas : Light is light.
Which city do you think is the most photogenic ?
Jeff Dunas : Paris.
If God existed would you ask him to pose for you, or would you opt for a selfie with him ?
Jeff Dunas : Sit for a portrait.
If I could organize your ideal dinner party, who would be at the table ?
Jeff Dunas : Penn, Weston, Sieff, Frank, Lisette Model, Man Ray, Newton, Bourdin, Lindbergh, Kirkland, Brodovitch, Walker Evans, Juliet Margaret Cameron. Today, Koudelka of course, Salgado, Dan Winters, Nadav Kander, Annie, Sarah Moon and Maja Hoffman !
The image that represents for you the current state of the world ?
Jeff Dunas : The Hindenburg Disaster.
What is missing in today’s world ?
Jeff Dunas : Recognition of each other as citizens of Earth. Possibly time travel !
If you had to start all over again ?
Jeff Dunas : I’m too impatient.
A last word ?
Jeff Dunas : Being a photographer is a great privilege. I take that seriously.