Felipe is a gifted commercial and fine art photographer who we feel very lucky to have teaching with us. His enthusiasm for photography is contagious and inspiring, and his beautiful images have a depth and resonance that stick with you (I have one of his images of Boyle Heights set as my desktop, and people often comment on it). You can view his commercial work at felipedupouy.com, and his fine art work at felipedupouy.org.
Since he'll be teaching his course Photographing Places at our Figueroa Courtyard downtown center this summer, I thought it would be fun to ask him a few questions about his practice and background.
What kind of formal arts education do you have, and how did it prepare you for the world of professional photography? Do you feel that classes or real-world experience is more valuable for developing photographers?
I graduated from Art Center College of Design with a BFA in photography. The program, when I went there, was incredible. It aimed to prepare photographers for all kind of circumstances, still lives, portraiture, architecture, product etc. So after leaving, I felt ready for anything - I felt I had the basis to figure anything out. I think that you need to have both ideas and inspiration, and an impeccable knowledge of the technical aspects of photography, to be able to carry those ideas out.
Do you remember your first professional photography assignment? Did you feel prepared, or were you winging it?
I was definitely prepared for my first professional assignment. It was for the LA Times Magazine, shooting a couple of hotels in Santa Barbara. The problem was that the magazine did not have permission to shoot on the grounds of these places, so I had to shoot them from across the street. I wanted so badly to make something incredible and blow everyone away at the magazine, but sometimes commercial photography is making the best of an OK or a bad situation. That's why, if you have spent the time to understand your craft and gotten the technical side down, you can make something out of nothing.
What projects are you working on now, and what is inspiring you?
I am going to South America for a month to shoot some stuff for Getty Images and do some personal work there. I have an ongoing series of this city that I am trying to get published. The book is titled “Portrait Los Angeles,” and it's about 10 years of me roaming around mostly downtown with my 4 x 5 camera. The prints are heavily manipulated black and whites as well as color.
Who are some photographers whose work you admire?
I don’t look at photography that much, but as far as art inspiring me, I would have to say that street art and stencils are my favorite. Free for everyone to see, and usually some pointed social commentary as well.
What advice would you have for someone who is looking to become a professional in the field?
Follow your dreams and create work from your heart. Then try to figure out where the work fits in.
Images by Felipe Dupouy