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Gavin Doran

@gavindoran / gavindoran.tumblr.com

Photographer & Creative Consultant

As my time in Savannah is closer to its end than it’s beginning, I’m working even more aggressively. “In the Alleys of Savannah” is a different look at the city. Savannah, without a doubt, is the most romantic city in the country. When I first arrived, like most people, I was fascinated by the 22 squares that dotted the city. It is what you hope Paris to be before having been. There is no better place to stroll and strike conversation with strangers. That was just the surface. The longer I stayed, the more I explored, I came to the conclusion; the best part of Savannah—it’s soul—was not within its squares, but it’s alleys. Not within its manicured gardens but in the dark chambers and tunnels running along the bluff that Oglethorpe built the city upon. It’s one of the most challenging—and fun—things I’ve had the opportunity to photograph. So many layers, lighting conditions and characters. When thinking about the format to shoot the project, I wanted higher quality but digital felt like the wrong way to photograph a place founded in 1733. The photographs needed some texture and character, so I settled on my M6 with a 35mm lens and Kodak Portra 400 and 800. I still have some finishing touches to add over the next month but am excited to share the final project sometime this August. 🧪: @phtsdr #InTheAlleysofSavannah #gavindoran #savannahgeorgia #alleyway #🔴 #leicam6 #kodakportra400 #kodakportra800 (at Savannah, Georgia) https://www.instagram.com/p/CQbWIBfHtmJ/?utm_medium=tumblr

Life can be so magical. You can walk the same path every day and no two days are alike. While waiting for my latte outside of @thecollinsquarter one morning, I noticed a woman reading the paper. She had the most wonderful expression on her face and she looked like an angel as her whole body was backlit by the sunshine. Her hair style seemed to match her dog and I’ve always thought it curious how dogs seem to reflect their owners. That same dynamic we all have become all too familiar with unfolding just behind her. One woman on her phone, the other tolerating the distraction and patiently waiting for genuine human interaction. Just as I was noticing these things, there was a horse coming up the road and a family walking beside the wall of the Juliette Gordon Low house, making a sort of frieze. I raised my camera and pressed the shutter. A couple moments later it was all gone but it was too late, I had witnessed it and had the receipt. I had lived that moment and this was my life and I appreciated the way it had unfolded that morning. // A woman sits in the morning light at Collins Quarter in Savannah, GA on April 5th, 2021 #leicam6 #35mmcron #kodakportra400 #savannahgeorgia (at Savannah, Georgia) https://www.instagram.com/p/CQZgAxJHmSk/?utm_medium=tumblr

Timeless photographs are elusive. I found one with Nicola during a quiet moment in Central Park this past weekend. Maybe it’s just my fondness of the subject, but despite being in public there is a sort of intangible intimacy that can be felt within this image that makes for a wonderful impression. 🧪: @phtsdr #leicam6 #ilfordhp5 #bwportrait #35mmsummicron #centralparknyc #polishgirl #gavindoran (at New York, New York) https://www.instagram.com/p/CQLjQlNHG95/?utm_medium=tumblr

I went to try to visit the Little Island in Manhattan but it was too busy to enter. As I was looking over the Hudson River towards Jersey, I thought about the scene in front of me. I thought about the things we miss when we are obsessed with something else. “When the whole world is paying attention to one thing, what gets passed by that might be even more valuable?” Thoughts like this always derive from photography and are tools for more interesting photographs, but end up being tools for life. 🧪: @phtsdr #toolsforlife #leicam6 #ilfordhp5 #bwlandscape #gavindoran #littleisland (at Little Island NYC) https://www.instagram.com/p/CQJMbEyHW6H/?utm_medium=tumblr

Taking “Jesus is watching over you” to the next level. What a beautiful piece. We got to chatting and he said it was created by a famous West Coast tattoo artist who unfortunately passed away. #leicam6 #ilfordhp5 #35mmsummicron #LeicaWorld #Leica_Club #LeicaSociety #TheLeicaLook #LeicaPhotography #ExploreToCreate #LeicaPhoto #LeicaGram #LeicaCommunity #LeicaGallery #LeicaInternational #PhotographyPassion #Eyephotomagazine #ContemporaryPhotographer #🔴 (at New York, New York) https://www.instagram.com/p/CQGcYmxHP15/?utm_medium=tumblr

I don’t want to strike you with neon lighting, or sexuality or something totally strange. That’s too easy. Too predictable. I want to stop your scroll with Character. Something that doesn’t try so hard, isn’t so desperate. I want you to see the quiet portraits I make and empathize with those expressions and the eyes that seem to transcend the screen. Nii Adu in the studio last year. @niiadukclerk (at New York, New York) https://www.instagram.com/p/CO6XEpAHrQw/?igshid=1wwjy562en8n5

Originally called ‘Scumbags’, @timbuk2 debuted this messenger bag as its flagship product in 1989. They are a gritty and capable brand and this bag is meant for those of us that never stop moving for anything or anyone. During shoot day, fate swooped in and the rain came down. We kept it moving and didn’t pay it any mind. These are the photos we created. Model: @caloflorida #timbuk2 #harleydavidson #messengerbag #dumbobrooklyn #gavindoran (at DUMBO) https://www.instagram.com/p/CO4DlXRHacc/?igshid=1df5llv4ys82r

04/20/2021 Driving down U.S. Route 1, I saw the wooden crates stacked neatly in the thin space between the asphalt and ocean. I stopped abruptly as the dust cloud of white limestone wrapped around the back of my car, hearing the gravel grumble beneath the tires. I walked down the embankment, through a small opening in the wired fence and met Mitch, the Lobster Fisherman. He had been at it for almost a year and we spoke about everything as he fixed the wooden crates for the upcoming season; the depth they drop them in (3-4m), how much money is involved (a lot) and the sometimes cut-throat industry in which lines can get tangled, catches can be sabotaged and licenses can be lost due to a half inch size difference of a single lobster. It was a weird day in that it was dreary but not grey and the light was unique that day in the Florida Keys. After my hour of education, I thanked Mitch and kept on cruising. #leicam6 #portra400 #summicron35asph #floridakeys (at Conch Key Fishing Lodge & Marina) https://www.instagram.com/p/COtGDLxnJZk/?igshid=gb9ulr4dnhyp

Driving down U.S. Route 1, I saw the wooden crates stacked neatly in the thin space between the asphalt and ocean. I stopped abruptly as the dust cloud of white limestone wrapped around the back of my car, hearing the gravel grumble beneath the tires. I walked down the embankment, through a small opening in the wired fence and met Mitch, the Lobster Fisherman. He had been at it for almost a year and we spoke about everything as he fixed the wooden crates for the upcoming season; the depth they drop them in (3-4m), how much money is involved (a lot) and the sometimes cut-throat industry in which lines can get tangled, catches can be sabotaged and licenses can be lost due to a half inch size difference of a single lobster. It was a weird day in that it was dreary but not grey and the light was unique that day in the Florida Keys. After my hour of education, I thanked Mitch and kept on cruising. (at Conch Key Fishing Lodge & Marina) https://www.instagram.com/p/COtFHkgHgYR/?igshid=1xm5vsj218488

A few weeks ago, I traveled down to Orlando, FL for @thecafearoma to photograph their Director of Sales, Angel, for an ongoing campaign showcasing the hardworking, everyday humans that their coffee fuels. I’m always so pleasantly surprised at how much I end up connecting with the people I photograph. Even then, I usually have to bring the energy that is then dispersed around the set. With Angel that wasn’t necessary. He was full of life, fun and kindness. We talked about all kinds of things as we made some images. He was very knowledgable and when I asked for a food recommendation for my lunch he said that I must try a “Tripleta”—a traditional Puerto Rican sandwich. Instead of giving me directions to the restaurant, Angel took me there himself and made sure everything was as it should be. Few things have ever tasted so delicious. Big thanks to Angel, Bernadette, Sal, Wendy and the Cafe Aroma team for having me again. #gavindoran #cafearoma #coffeethatfuelsthesoul #orlandoflorida #environmentalportrait #panamericancoffee #profotob10plus (at Orlando, Florida) https://www.instagram.com/p/COrGvcinmbh/?igshid=f90go4yujh6i

I had a vision but no access. I sent an email asking permission to be there and got the green light, but when I arrived I was totally on my own. There were thousands of people and I was no closer to the action than the average spectator. To top it all off, it was raining and very windy. I wanted to make images that would help land me more work shooting key art for movies and shows, as well as bolster/diversify my portfolio for my advertising clients in general. But how? These guys were preparing to risk their lives in order to compete. Even if I could bypass the bulls in the bullpen with my fancy camera gear and lighting equipment, why would they waste their time with a photoshoot in such a tense moment? I’m not a huge fan of contrived things. I want my photos to be authentic and not some model I hired to wear a cowboy hat on a rented farm. I would just have to figure it out. I began at the large metal gate and followed a Cowboy in. As I splashed through the ankle deep mud, I finally arrived where everyone was. You could feel the space charged with potential. Cowboys were preparing their saddles and gear. Listening to music and getting in the mindset it takes to jump on an animal that could easily be the last thing they see. I could appreciate how a man might become addicted to this kind of thing. Almost everyone gave me at least 5 minutes, which was very appreciated since I had no time to test the lighting set up. By the time they got on the bulls, I had made many friends and had put my camera equipment down, sitting on the fence just above the bucking animal, happy to support and encourage the men as they lowered themselves on its back. When the gate broke loose it was madness. The power is hard to overstate, and 8 seconds was an eternity to hold on. Many of them did and in those moments I began to vaguely understand the skill that was required for such a thing. Thank you to all of you who were kind enough to give me your time. Can’t thank @letterstonikki enough for willingly holding my light all night on a whim. Without you, these would have been average at best. #rodeo #cowboysandindiansmagazine #statesboro #gavindoran #kiwanis (at Statesboro, Georgia) https://www.instagram.com/p/COa1BwkHMyX/?igshid=10ne551015mbo

I first met @wyland when I was in 8th grade. He was painting one of the largest whale murals in the world at Legendary Marina and one of our teachers took us out there to meet him. I remember him signing my sketchbook, not knowing 15 years later I’d be hanging out at his house, 10 hours south of that marina doing a photoshoot and trying his (delicious) signature rum. It was an important moment for me as he was likely the first person I met that was making a living as an artist. Today he is one of the most celebrated artists of our time, as well as a sculptor, musician, filmmaker and philanthropist. His ‘Whaling Walls’ project which consisted of him painting over 100 monumental marine life murals around the world remains one of the largest public arts projects in history and is seen by over a billion people every year. He holds a Guinness World Record for the largest mural ever painted. Since completing the project in 2008, he has begun a new project in which he is creating 100 giant marine sculptures to be placed in cities all over the globe. He does all of this because he understands arts important role in bringing attention to environmental issues. He began the @wylandfoundation in 1993, inspiring millions of people around the world to become compassionate stewards of our oceans, lakes, rivers streams and wetlands. In the first image you can see him sitting being one of his paintings of a manatee on his dock is Islamorada, FL. Pictures 3 and 4 are some examples of his work on the Norwegian Bliss and on Long Beach Arena. #wyland #gavindoran #oceanconservation #whalingwall #whalemural #whalepainting #protectouroceans (at Islamorada, Florida) https://www.instagram.com/p/COHFq9_HP6-/?igshid=4hzmmn1u16mp

Always be disciplined in your work but when inspiration comes you must act quickly. It does not linger about. Wait more than a few weeks to seize it and whatever it is will become a watered down version of what it could have been because no matter how disciplined you are you can never pursue something as vigorously with discipline as you can with passion. // These are the last images I made using my BronColor lighting. A couple frames after this, my Move L pack exploded in a puff of smoke. I had a shoot in Miami a week later and picked up a couple @profotoglobal B10+ and I’m excited to give them a go on a proper shoot soon enough. (at New York, New York) https://www.instagram.com/p/CNafl-eHHDo/?igshid=l0yhc7cbcuj9

No place is ever as we wish it was. Only in those sweet moments in-between do we see glimpses of ideality. That is where my photos live, because in a world in which one moment is no less real than the next, that is how I choose to remember my life. // • Image 1: A vintage car is parked along E. Upper Factors Walk in Savannah, GA on February 3rd, 2021 • Image 2: The Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist is illuminated by the warm light of sunset on February 2nd, 2021 in Savannah, GA • Image 3: River Street, Savannah, GA on February 3rd, 2021 Shot on my #leicam6 with a #35summicron and #kodak #portra800 (at Savannah, Georgia) https://www.instagram.com/p/CM5PcboHqGD/?igshid=l11l0mfzqldc

The SCAD flagship building seen on the left was originally named Preston Hall. Poetter Hall dates back to 1892, when it opened as the Savannah Volunteer Guard Armory. This 36,248 square-foot building contained a drill hall, ballroom, large company rooms and a guard club. Poetter Hall was the first building that SCAD acquired in 1979. The ballroom on the second floor served as the school's first library and had a unique floor mural that depicted scenes of books and bookcases. // Steven stands in the window of Poetter Hall at dusk on the corner of Bull St and E Charlton Ln. on February 27th, 2021. Shot on #kodakportra800 with a #leicam6 and #35mmcron #enjoythelittlethings #smallpleasures #dailylife #LeicaWorld #Leica_Club #LeicaSociety #TheLeicaLook #LeicaPhotography #ExploreToCreate #LeicaPhoto #LeicaGram #LeicaCommunity #LeicaGallery #LeicaInternational #PhotographyPassion #Eyephotomagazine #ContemporaryPhotographer #🔴 (at Poetter Hall) https://www.instagram.com/p/CMmnDCrHBY9/?igshid=r2f65d9rjpcd

If you pay attention to the wisdom of the great photographers who came before us, they all seem to echo the same thought; the work they most cherish at the end of their career is the work they made of the people they love. // Nicola on our bed in Savannah, GA, waiting for the rain. February, 2021. (at Savannah, Georgia) https://www.instagram.com/p/CMkQPduHhGa/?igshid=17fgae7ijzaig

Savannah, Georgia is certainly a beautiful place. It’s rich history and character are felt more than anywhere else due to excellent structural preservation and diligent maintenance. Everything is manicured and walking through Chippewa Square on a rainy evening can feel a bit like you are a character in “Midnight in Paris”. It doesn’t just look old but the weight of its age is much heavier than you might expect for an American city. Photographically however it is quite the challenge, unless you are the type of photographer that likes to photograph flowers. Then it’s quite literally ‘a walk in the park’. As you all know, I look for depth of character and interesting dynamic between subjects and their environment. Savannah’s beauty is ideal to live in but cliche and it’s citizens are well-dressed, incredibly friendly and painfully, visually average compared to citizens of Southern Georgia and more rural areas along the coast. It took me a couple weeks to really find my voice and what I wanted to focus on; the alleyways. The 22 squares covered in Spanish Moss are what everyone is obsessed with, and rightfully so, but once you peel back the stereotypical Southern beauty by stepping off the main streets, the world begins to speak in a different tone. The grit, the chefs and hospitality employees taking a smoke break, the men setting cobblestone into the streets and liquored-up lovers hoping to escape the neon lights for a quick romance. Of all the alleyways, I’m most fascinated with the ones between River Street and Bay Street. A triple-tiered labyrinth of visual possibility. I’m looking forward to exploring these more and putting out more work that highlights a very special part of Savannah that has yet to be fully appreciated or photographically documented in the way I envision. // A man walks through a skybridge along Whittaker Street at sunrise in Savannah, GA on February 16th, 2021. Shot on @kodak Portra 800 film and my #leicam6 with a #leica35mm #gavindoran #stpatricksday2021 (at Savannah, Georgia) https://www.instagram.com/p/CMiN0GHnOg6/?igshid=awt2m3xisk5h

We’ve made a lot of great photos but there is so much more to do. So many spectacular moments to capture and say “yes” to. So much in life that deserves attention. So many things we’re going to learn and understand about life and ourselves through an image and the act of making it. That inner voice that drives me is stronger than ever and the value I want it to bring the world is great. Here’s to the things that fulfill us. #enjoythelittlethings #smallpleasures #dailylife #LeicaWorld #Leica_Club #LeicaSociety #TheLeicaLook #LeicaPhotography #ExploreToCreate #NeverStopExploring #LeicaPhoto #LeicaGram #LeicaCommunity #LeicaGallery #LeicaInternational #PhotographyPassion #DeignedinGermany #Eyephotomagazine #ContemporaryPhotographer #🔴 (at Savannah, Georgia) https://www.instagram.com/p/CMXtdwuHXPp/?igshid=100ey297zykt6

This COVID 19 relief bill will include ‘Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act’ which will provide billions of dollars for black farmers. Tim Dickinson summarized it well in his piece for @rollingstone; “The Covid relief package is providing a platform for a historic Senate newcomer to deliver for a long-struggling constituency: black farmers. Led by Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Senate Democrats are touting a $5 billion provision in the relief bill that will wipe out federal debts for farmers of color, and invest in reforms to help these farmers build generational wealth by keeping their family farms in the family.” This is great news. Over the past couple years I’ve been spending more time back home in the South and have had a chance to meet black farmers like Willie, pictured above. I made this photo on Portra 400 in South GA in April of 2020 and plan to return to see him soon now that he is just a 3-4 hours drive from me. Anyway, very happy about this news and hope there is more where that came from. (at Thomasville, Georgia) https://www.instagram.com/p/CL-RIvDHsgJ/?igshid=1earmp2a9pyf

I’ve documented quite a few different people and stories over the last year. Going to try to slowly start releasing those photographs. 1st image: Carmine Morales leans outside the window of the now shuttered ‘Classic Coffee Shop’ where he and his family served customers off Hester Street in Manhattan for over 40 years. June, 2020 Image 2: visual commenting on the loneliness of old age and its application due to COVID-19. Washington Square Park. June, 2020 Image 3: A musician stands outside a bodega after getting groceries in Bushwick, Brooklyn. June, 2020. Image 4: Steven stands halfway up Everit St. in DUMBO, Brooklyn in November, 2020 (at New York, New York) https://www.instagram.com/p/CLKk_BqHeBu/?igshid=i627k2j1yeok