We got the privilege to pick the brain of Charleston street photographer and filmmaker Dorian Warneck this past week, and he stayed dropping gems. We won't even bore you with a long intro, check out his interview below and get to know this budding talent in the same light we did.
Who is Dorian and when did you fall in love with your art?
Ohhh, I’m not sure I know how to answer the first part of that haha. I think as far as for the photography stuff I’ve always been doing it. It's not something that I’ve always taken seriously as an artform, I think that in the last two years I’ve started to really take it seriously and consider myself a “photographer”. But I’ve always had camera’s with me since I was a kid,
I’ve always made videos and taken pictures and documented everything. I think like, my art is pretty much very heavily influenced by just the world around me, so I would say less, than being in love with my art, I’m in love with what inspires my art. Which is I’m in with the world around me. I’m inspired by just what I see everyday.
What it is about Charleston that makes you want to capture it on film?
Well, Charleston has a really special kind of…there’s a lot of variety here. Theres alot of different kinds of people and it's all within a really small area, especially living Downtown, it's small. There's a lot of diversity in a really small area and that's really appealing to me. I document everything. I take photos when I travel too, its just people in general and the world around me and I think, I don’t know this kind of street kind of documentary photography that I’m doing now definitely came about specifically through Charleston and like the neighborhood feels of the living north of the cross town and I felt like I was seeing so much interesting things everyday that I just wanted to document it excessively.
What is it about photography that keeps you inspired to create more?
You know, I think recently starting to shoot film again has inspired me to keep shooting. I've been shooting for a long time and I think I got tired of always having to sit at a computer and process stuff...I’m already sitting at work all day editing and I like how with films I shoot and I don't look at it and I don't know if I got, I just have to wait until I send the film off. It keeps me focused on like the moments I’m seeing in the real world and not worrying too much about my camera. I have it, I know how to use it, I take a photo and I immediately just move on to the next thing. Whereas if I was just shooting digital I know this about myself, I would immediately start obsessing over whether or not its a good picture. I shoot a little bit more sparingly and I’m a little bit more picky about the moments that I shoot with shooting film… there's a mystique to it. I send off like 20 rolls and I get them back and its like Christmas morning all at once you know? And that's just a really fun way to shoot and that just keeps me motivated and inspired to keep going.
Are there forms of art outside of photography that you want to dabble in?
Yea, I think I already do to some degree, I mean filmmaking is like what I do for a living and I’m really interested in documentary filmmaking and would like to make some more documentaries. I love visual art. I love people who are doing things whether its painting or drawing or pen and ink. I really respect those forms of visual art because I have absolutely no talent there, like what so ever. I’m the worst artist when it comes to drawing a picture of something and its like I cant draw anything pretty and I dont have a cool style or anything. So I really admire it, I like to draw. I play in a band, I play the bass. I’ve played music for about two years and I really enjoy playing in a Band.
[S/O to Secret Guest by the way;)]
What kind of Camera do you use?
Um, I have a few different ones that I use. Most of my camera’s are from 1970’s era. I have an old Yashica and a Nikon F3 but for a lot of the street stuff that I’ve been shooting lately I shoot with a little canonet rangefinder which is like a lot simpler and doesn't produce quite as robust of an image as the Nikon F3’s because those were like a serious journalism camera in the 70’s, that's what war photographers used, and I love that camera but its uh, its just got this loud clunky shutter so when I’m shooting in the streets people notice me a lot more. And with the camera I shoot with now it's really quiet and small and doesn't attract a lot of attention and it's really light so it's really comfortable to have it on me all day.
Do people ever wonder if you're “shooting me”?
I definitely get that sometimes, I would say about 75% of the time that I shoot someone without permission they don’t notice me or at least don't say anything. Then there been times where people don't say anything and they're looking at me like *sideyes* “What’s that guy’s problem?”. Then of course there are the times where people are like “ Hey! Why’d you just take my picture?!” I’ve definitely been confronted about it. Just comes with the territory.
Who are your greatest inspirations art related or otherwise?
YOu know that’s an interesting question because I’ve never really been one of those people who really pays attention, maybe to a fault. I’ve always been more of a doer. It's kind of funny, I’ve been doing commercials and documentary films for a few years and I don't watch movies very much, I don’t film history, I don't know who the greatest filmmakers of all time are. Once I’ve started getting more interested in street photography there's definitely been people who have done similar stuff in the past or are doing similar stuff that I like. There's a guy named Ed Templeton who is a modern day photographer, he lives in California and he’s a really cool guy who I look up to in multiple ways. He’s been a professional skateboarder for many years and that's something I’ve been doing for a long time and he’s an amazing street photographer, he’s also a painter. He’s always putting stuff out. It’s like everytime I look up he’s either got another photoshow coming out or a new book coming out or new zine or a new painting. He seems very ambitious and I admire that a lot because I try to do the same thing with the constant motion and trying to do more and more it helps me not to be stagnant.
What were some of your biggest obstacles in finding your niche?
Oh, I don't know, cause I don't know what my niche is yet haha. I feel like I'm still definitely trying to explore what I like the most and I actually feel like, the older I get and the more I'm doing this stuff I'm having less and less of a niche? Like, I'm starting to become more interested in more things, where as I was just a filmmaker now I'm wanting to get some paid photography gigs too and I'm wanting to explore and really trying to figure out what I enjoy the most. Honestly, for myself, I think the key to not getting bored with what you're doing and being happy is like, just having your livelihood built up by numerous things instead of just one set thing. I think for me personally I would just get burnt out if I was just hyper focused on one thing. But I think I'm very driven to things that are real, you know the documentary style whether it's filmmaking or photography. I very much feel like I have somewhat of a journalist approach, I would much rather capture something real then fabricate something.
What advice would you give an up and coming freelance artist who wants to do this as a living?
I think...it's hard because I don't have too much experience being freelance, you know I’ve been working for a company and I have done freelance work in the past, I'm about to be freelance again, but I think the biggest thing that I've learned about becoming successful, whatever that means haha, is that you just have to be doing it already. The stuff that you wanna do you can't wait for someone to come hand you a million dollar project if you don't have a ton of work already to show for yourself. You have to be doing it, you have to come up with excuses to be doing it anyway.
Whether it's like, you're wanting to do commercial filmmaking, make up some commercials & just make things. If you wanna do a documentary, find the cheapest way you can do it & find a story & make a documentary. Don't wait for National Geographic to come hire you to do a documentary for them, cause it doesn't work that way. Like with my photography stuff, the only reason I have my zine and built myself sort of, not a following but gotten my stuff out there & in front of a good amount of people now is because I had the idea of using a Zine as a way to get it out there and I just did it. I just started putting it around town and I had no idea if anyone was gonna like it but I thought it would be a cool idea, worse case scenario I spent some money on zines and no one picks them up, so what? But I think that's important. If you have ideas, go for it. Ideas are only worth anything if you're gonna follow through with them. You have to do stuff.
What's something that you can't capture but wish you could capture through a lens?
Oh uh...sometimes I wish that, and I bet technology will get this but I don't know if I actually hope this happens but, sometimes I wish that I could just wink my eye and take a photo of the things I'm seeing. It's like, no matter how quick you get with a camera you still are just gonna miss so much stuff. It's just so much I see everyday that I just, great moments that just pass me by and I'm just like wow...haha.
One thing that I'm always pushing myself for, you know shooting people in the street, a lot of times without their permission takes confidence. I feel like I've got a good amount of confidence and I feel good about what I'm doing, I'm not trying to exploit anybody, but some people just don't want their pictures taken. If I have an altercation with somebody and they're made that I took their picture it genuinely makes me feel bad because you know I don't want to ruin anybody’s day. But I feel like it has value because it's helping, like everybody who’s out there taking pictures of real like, they're helping portray the world, in my opinion. Not to say that like my work is super important or anything but I just think this kind of work in general can be pretty important. There are still times when I see something happening & I just lock up and stare because I'm scared of the reaction. I'm trying to keep building my confidence and put myself in, not dangerous but more challenging situations so that I'm coming out with work that's really saying something. You can only take a picture of someone with a pretty hat on so many times. It's great for a while then you want to get something that's a little deeper, touched, makes people cringe a little.
Be sure to Check out Dorian's Photo Exhibit at 4th Wall! You have until June 1st!