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© Ute Reckhorn

© Ute Reckhorn

Incorporating Traditional Composition

  • 4 min read

Incorporating Traditional Composition

Artist Interview with Danny Kaye

Danny Kayeis a photographer based in France who focuses on incorporating traditional composition in his work. We had the opportunity to interview him and learn more about his process!

Danny Kaye with Lensbaby Obscura 16

Q: When did you start taking photographs? Why did you continue?

A: About 1970, because everything about Photography fascinates me.


Q: Which is your favorite Lensbaby lens and why?

A: At the moment it is sort of tied between the Velvet 28 and the Burnside 35, but I like all of it, right back to the first prototypes. Something about Lensbaby just seems to resonate with me.

Danny Kaye with Lensbaby Spark 2.0

Q: What tips do you have for beginners just learning how to use Lensbaby Gear?

A: To quote Cartier-Bresson, the first 10,000 shots are the worst! Seriously, put the new lens on your camera and make images, as you get comfortable push it a bit out of your comfort zone. Eventually it will click. Actually this applies to all photo gear and quite a lot of other stuff.


Q: What professional photographers have influenced your work, and how do you incorporate their techniques into your photographs?

A: Lots, Cartier-Bresson and Brassaï for street, the ideas of capturing the moment. Bob Carlos Clarke for surreal erotic images his manipulation was amazing. Ansel Adams for landscape, the whole f/64 club thing. Carleton Watkins for sheer perseverance taking 18x20 inch glass negatives by mule in Yosemite. David Bailey for his no nonsense approach. There are just so many, looking at their images teaches style and craft and helps you improve just by being amazing.


Danny Kaye with Lensbaby Twist 60

Q: What is the most difficult part of being a photographer?

A: Being good, it is so easy now that anyone can take hundreds of images of one thing, auto-everything and there will be a good one in there somewhere. Being able to point the camera, press the shutter once or twice and walking away knowing there is a good image takes skill and creativity. I am always impressed with the photographers who use large format, 10x12, 12x18 or bigger negatives where one shot can cost tens if not hundreds of pounds and they don't see the image for a day or more, but they take a few shots in a session and know they have something good.


Q: Do you have formal training as a photographer or are you self-taught? What was that journey like?

A: Self taught, the only courses I ever took were night school and mainly because I wanted to use their darkrooms! I started with a Zenit B, Helios 44 and a no name 135mm that belonged to a friend, the first camera I owned was a Practica that I hated, from there the equipment got better so the struggle was to get to the point where I could compose and take a successful image, eventually I was a University Lecturer so I must have done something right.


Danny Kaye with Lensbaby Velvet 28

Q: What details do you believe make the best photographs? How do you go about focusing on them in your work?

A: I like the traditional skills of composition, images need to be in balance, have a subject that the eye is drawn to and not be confusing for the viewer.


Q: What inspires you most?

A: Lots of things, shape, colour, composition, but mostly images that I see by other photographers.


Q: Tell us your favorite quote!

A: Churchill, when asked to cut funding to the arts in order to support the war effort in World War II, “Then what would we be fighting for?”.


Q: What is your favorite subject to photograph?

A: Anything, I have no real favourites, each subject brings different challenges.


Danny Kaye with Lensbaby Velvet 56

Q: How would you describe your photography style?

A: Not obvious.


Q: What is the most rewarding part of being a photographer?

A: Seeing an image of mine hanging on the wall, if it is someone else's wall it is even better.


Q: What is next?

A: I want to explore more old techniques for making images, ultimately I would like to make a Platinum print.


Danny Kaye

I started taking photographs with an old Zenit B and a Helios 44 lens that belonged to a friend in about 1972. I started B&W developing and printing because I was a photographer for the student paper and it was cheap. I studied engineering and photography was a hobby, developing and printing in the bathrooms of various houses until I eventually returned to university and became a lecturer, first in Mathematics and, later, in the Art School, teaching Sound engineering, Cinematography and Photography. Lensbaby came into my life in 2014 when I was looking for a way to get similar effects to freelensing without the damage to the universities cameras that it caused. I retired in 2018 and moved to France where I spend a lot of time doing photography and woodwork.

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