Dustin Lane

Dustin Lane

You do primarily video, but did photography come first for any period when you were younger? As like a stepping stone? Or did photography always just come second hand as a result of shooting video?

Growing up my focus was mostly painting and drawing, though I played with film and digital stills cameras in High School. I developed my obsession around the time I was 21 or 22 after buying a medium format camera and looking at work from photographers like Joel Sternfeld, Alec Soth, and Mitch Epstein. 

I was listening to your Wandering DP interview and you said that you try to supply stills for every shoot you do. How often during a shoot would you say you usually stop to take photos? 

I like to shoot lots of photos on the scout to use in discussing setups with the director. Sometimes they end up becoming references for frames we shoot with the cinema camera as well. The more free form and exploratory the project, and the more open access we have to our environment and subjects, the more stills I tend to shoot.

What percentage of the rest of the photos you take come from location scouting? And during that process, do you ever feel like you want to hold back from sharing an image (one for the scouting that’s more of a reference) until you actually shoot it in the video?

Most of the photographs I post are from my own travels and explorations rather than jobs or scouts. Typically I’m also posting images a few days or even weeks behind taking them, so it would be tough for anyone to have context of what is from a project or not. 

You keep your photographs in that 16x9 ratio. My guess would be because you’re so used to it and want to showcase your eye as a Cinematographer into the imagery for people to notice. And stay consistent on your feed with whatever you choose. Is that fair to say? If not, why so? Do you ever feel like it constrains the shot? And do you ever take any vertical photos but just not post them? 

Aspect ratios are an odd thing. The 16x9 (1.77) frame feels very cinematic for me when it comes to a still, but to be honest its my least favorite to frame for with cinematography. I’d much rather have the spread of an anamorphic 2.40 frame, or the restriction and classical look of 1.33. No one ratio is the perfect shape, and I like to change things up often between both mediums. I shoot lots of work vertically and in the native aspects of medium and large format film, but do like the consistency of 16x9 for Instagram. 

I found your work through Instagram, then I went later on and checked out your video work afterwards. How big a platform and tool has Instagram been for you personally to get your work out there?

Instagram works for me like a portfolio or reel in that if someone recommends me for a job, you can - in a couple of swipes - get a feel for my personal taste and aesthetic. It has definitely helped me connect with like-minded filmmakers that have become great collaborators. 

What do you prefer shooting your stills on?

Film will always be the first love, and I greatly enjoy the digital darkroom experience of scanning my own negatives, but I simply want to shoot more and see results faster than film can accommodate with my schedule and constant travel. I currently like the Fuji digital system, it stays out of your way and the dynamic range is wonderful. 

How would you personally describe your style? When going for a shot, is there anything specific you look for? Or is it just based off instinct?

I think I work mostly from instinct. I am always looking for settings, compositions, and lighting that evoke a certain feeling. 

You seem to have a particular fascination with (certain) cars in your photos, usually parked and only one in the shot. Is this a common theme you notice yourself or just a subconscious habit? 

The cars for me are somewhat autobiographical. I grew up around those kinds of cars. Late 70’s, early 80’s Lincoln, Cadillac, Oldsmobile. My grandparents had these cars. My first car was a hand me down 85 Cutlass Supreme. 

Are the people who influence your video work the same ones who influence your photo work? Whether yes or no, who are they all?

I am influenced in both mediums by image makers of all kinds. Currently the photography of Bill Jacobson, Cody Cobb, Brian Schutmaat, Cinematography by Christopher Blauvelt, Greig Fraser, Robbie Ryan. 

What is your editing process and style like for stills compared to video?

With cinematography, I am always handing my footage away for someone else to mold as they please, unless I'm working with one of my closer collaborators, but with photography I am able to stay wholly in control. With both mediums I try to keep color correction to a naturalistic minimum. 

You have a lot of classic American and small town imagery in your work. What draws you to that type of environment and world as something you want to capture and share through your work?

I grew up in a small Southern town. It’s the landscape of my memories. I like places that feel lived in, with heavy impressions of the people who inhabit them.

Interview by Jack Sommer

Jack Sommer