Our featured photographer this month is Scott Dine. Scott is a lifetime member of the Arundel Camera Club and has been a mentor and friend to our club for many years, sharing his insights and experience.
Scott spent 35 years at the Post-Dispatch working as a Sunday Pictures Magazine photographer, a photo editor and director of photography, and was inducted into the Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame.
According to Robert W. Duffy in an article that was published in St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 21, 2010 “Scott Dine was one of the great photographers in the history of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a newspaper that has had its share of great shooters in its 132-year history. In the years since his retirement in 1999, he has continued to produce pictures of extraordinary power and beauty. As we would say in the Beacon’s newsroom: Dine produces Pictures That Matter.
ACC: How did you get started in photojournalism and how long have you been in journalism?
SD: I began taking pictures and processing film in a darkroom consisting of a blanket draped over a table in our garage. I was thirteen. In high school I began taking photographs for the student newspaper and the yearbook. Some of my photographs ended up in the Amarillo (TX) Globe- News and I began hanging around their newsroom when I was about 16 in 1950. I worked a couple of summers and some weekends, first in the darkroom and then doing assignments. So I worked full-time for fifty years, but I still practice the craft, read about it, study it. I can’t put the camera down.
ACC: Where did you work?
SD: After Amarillo and a couple of years of college went to work for United Press in Dallas, first in the darkroom and then as a staff photographer in Dallas and later Austin. I was drafted, spent two years In the army, most of it as a photog, then worked for the Richmond, VA, Times Dispatch, then moved to the Denver Post. Tried freelancing for a couple of years in the DC area and crashed and burned. Off to the Houston Chronicle for a brief period and then spent thirty five years at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch where I worked as a staff photographer, Sunday magazine photographer, picture editor assignment editor, and Director of Photography. The Post-Dispatch was founded by Joseph Pulitzer His grandson Joseph Pulitzer III, was the publisher during my time there. It was a first rate operation, one of America’s best regional newspapers.
ACC: How would you describe your approach to photography?
SD: Dazed and confused. That’s how I start out. I don’t have an agenda, I keep my eyes and ears open. In the back of my mind I keep essentials like facial expressions, light, movement, relationships, I might find a shaft of light that is intriguing and try to build a composition around it. I have to be aware of the environment the subject I have chosen resides in. How much of the environment is necessary to make an interesting photograph. On the street I do this hundreds of times a day, maybe getting one or two worth photographing. These are a few of the items I am looking for.
ACC: What makes a photograph interesting?
SD: Photographs that need no explanation are the ones I find most interesting.
ACC: What photographers influenced you?
SD: Early on the influence came from other newspapers. The Globe-News had subscriptions to newspapers from around the country and I watched the Denver Post, Milwaukee Journal, LA Times and Detroit Free-Press, all of whom had outstanding departments. In the fifties there weren’t many monographs of photographers published. Life magazine came to our house weekly and and I got ideas from it. Later on I wore out a copy of Cartier-Bresson’s’ Decisive Moment and Richard Avedon’s Observations. I discovered Kertesz and Elliott Erwitt and Dorothea Lange. Walker Evans was probably the most influential: He approached his subjects- head-on and so do I. My work evolved through time. My approach today is entirely different than the 1950’s and 1960’s. I began with a Speed Graphic using 4×5 inch film. I also worked with a Rolleiflex (2.25 in square) quite extensively. Today I am all 35mm, having spent most of my career with a bag of Leica and Nikon cameras and lenses from 21mm to 300mm with me constantly. Technology certainly had an influence on my evolution-the Speed Graphic had one lens and maximum film speed in those days was about 125 ISO. I initiated the changed to digital cameras in the late nineteen nineties with the Kodak DCS 4 producing a 1.75 MB file. The cost was about $12,500 per camera. A lot happened to photography between the Graphic and the DCS 4, developed by the Associated Press and Kodak. It had either a Canon EOS or Nikon body on a Kodak digital platform.
ACC: Do you have any advice for Club members?
SD: Follow your instincts, photograph what interests YOU not a CONTEST JUDGE.
ACC: Can you say a little about the photographs you have shared with us?
SD: It’s difficult to wrap up my career in ten photographs——a lot of stuff is left out—food, fashions, all the things that photojournalists deal with. News pictures are important, but on a day-to-day basis there is very little photograph in a city that makes spectacular front page photographs. The result is that we perfected our craft on life in a city—the day to day events, lives and activities of the population.
Note: Some photos have been published here with permission of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.