The beauty of the world through a camera lens attracted Doug Sturgess to his craft and now the gay photographer is showcasing his work – Atlanta landmarks to muscled torsos – in an exhibit this weekend.
But hurry. The exhibit, part of a larger exhibition organized by the Atlanta Photography Exhibit, ends on Saturday. If you missed the May 7 opening, the exhibit is woven into the Castleberry Art Stroll on Friday evening and is open again Saturday afternoon.
We caught up with Sturgess recently, who talked about his craft, his start in photography and even offered a few tips for amateurs looking to improve their work. His portfolio includes both inanimate objects and the male form, but Sturgess – ever the professional – declined to dish about any divas-in-their-own-mind that he’s photographed.
Project Q Atlanta: Tell us a little about the show and why it might interest folks who aren’t photo buffs. What sort of work will you display at the show?
Doug Sturgess: The Atlanta Photography Exhibit is a non-profit grassroots organization in Atlanta that helps “launch” emerging photographers. This is a great opportunity for locals to see a wide variety of fine art photography in one gallery by over 40 photographers as well as purchase affordable art from local photographers.
I have a wide variety of pieces in this show with ranging from Atlanta to New Zealand. The most exciting aspect is the public will be able to see my what my images look like when printed on a variety of media. A 35” by 50” giclée canvas gallery wrap of a tanker awaiting dry dock has brilliant reds. A one -of-a-kind limited edition of “The Varsity” (triptych, 26” x 40”) with black mat highlights one of Atlanta most famous icons with a beautiful view of downtown Atlanta.
How did you get your start in photography? Was it taking shots of your family with a Polaroid or taking shots of the cute boy next door when you were a teen?
I have always enjoyed the visual arts and I’m always amazed at how beautiful the world looks through the lens. I’m mostly self-taught but admit the Internet is an invaluable resource for learning about different techniques and connecting with fellow photographers from around the world. What keeps me interested in photography is the infinite subjects to photograph and techniques used to photograph them, the endless post-processing possibilities and, finally, the wide variety of media to display my work.
What sort of equipment did you use when you started experimenting with photography?
My interest accelerated tenfold when digital photography became possible. I quickly dumped my old Pentax and purchased a Canon Powershot G2. Being able to experiment and immediately evaluate my images was a great learning experience. That camera has seen many countries and oceans in the Caribbean, Alaska, French Polynesia and even the Great Barrier Reef.
What do you use now?
I’m currently using a Canon 20D with several of Canon’s top-of-the-line lenses. For my underwater photography, I’m using a 12MP camera.
Have the technological advances in photography equipment helped the art or hindered it?
Without a doubt, technological advances in cameras and the digital darkroom—computers, post-processing software, storage and printing—have made photography not only more accessible but more fun. I like immediate feedback and digital photography gives me just that. It allows me to customize work for my clients, assuring they get the right size, format and even special effects to compliment their art collection.
Your work is pretty diverse — from male images to Atlanta landmarks. What’s more fun to shoot? What gets more reaction from fans and buyers of your work?
I enjoy shooting anything that catches my eye, but beautiful men are a real treat to photograph. I prefer candid and natural shots in their own environment, which makes the client more relaxed and reveals more of their true character. I’m currently working on a series of Atlanta icons, but I want to try and capture them as never seen before. These get a lot of attention.
The “Fabulous Fox” and “Varsity” are both very popular images and will be on display at the show. People have been fascinated with the underwater images as they get to see a world they have not seen before. Pets are another favorite to capture. There’s nothing like having a lasting portrait of your favorite friend.
What are your three top tips for amateur photographers to improve their work?
• To develop your skills, never stop looking at as many images as you can online, in magazines, billboards, anywhere.
• Read your camera’s instruction manual and know your camera.
• Practice, practice, practice your photography techniques.
View the photography of Doug Sturgess (and others) during the Atlanta Photography Exhibit on Friday and Saturday at the Big House Loft Gallery. On Friday, the exhibit is part of the Castleberry Art Stroll.