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About David | David Van Allen Studios

About David

44342_10151403508238397_1844739120_nDavid lives and works in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  He is recently retired, Professor Emeritus of Art, from Mount Mercy University, where he taught photography, design, Art History and Intro to Art for 29 years. He has been a commercial photographer, on the side, since the early 1990’s and a fine artist since the late 1970’s.

The commercial work has included portraiture in several genres, event photography, tabletop, photographing artwork, editorial photography, documentary photography, photo journalism, architectural photography, annual report, brochure and website photography. Many of these are staged in his live-in studio in the locally famous Cherry building, a former factory. Location work, usually with supplemental or complete lighting is also part of his work. Every attempt is made to get the shot in camera, but Photoshop is often used for some fine-tuning and occasional special effects.

David works in both film and digital media. His commercial work is almost completely digital and his personal work is all film.  Using film for commercial work hasn’t happened since about 2004, but it remains a possibility for those who want it.

The personal artwork is, almost exclusively, portraiture, in this multiple image collage (assemblage} style that you see here. He’s been working in this style since 1996. Check out the Portfolio page for more description of this process.

David travels extensively; mostly internationally. Locations include various parts of Mexico (especially Oaxaca), Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, England, Germany, Egypt, Prague, Khartoum, Istanbul and Tbilisi, Georgia.

David’s studio is an interesting experience. If you don’t already have ADD you might catch it here. It’s has been the site for many, many photo and design classes, private tutorials, workshops, group visits and parties. The studio features a large built-in sych (David calls it the Cove), measuring 20’x25’x 25’ high with large factory style skylights. The curve has a radius of 5 feet. The paint on it is close to ¼ inch thick. The building has a loading dock and a very large freight elevator, so large things can be brought up to the 3rd floor. We used to be able to bring small cars up, but now there too many walls  and doorways in the way. A well tooled workshop is attached. It’s available for rental.

David  Van Allen has a BA in English from Saint Olaf College (’73) and an MA & MFA (‘80)  in Photography from the University of Iowa School of Art & Art History.

Here are a few concepts that I keep in mind when photographing:

•  The lighting: every subject has it’s own light and David has some favorites
•  The end product
•  Illusions of Time and Space
•  The background is just as important as the subject
•  The grid
•  Texture
•  OK, now send in the subject matter
•  Search for the subject’s confidence, not necessarily their comfort
•  Jovial and compassionate coercion
•  The image is the whole point of this exercise; the subject is the raw material

If it’s not the best portrait ever made of you, it will probably be one of the most interesting.

 View My Portfolio