How Dove Shore Went From Broke Film Student To Supermodel Photog
Meet Dove Shore. As the go-to photographer for the hottest blonde bombshells and other successful musicians and actors, Shore’s photographs are always beyond 1,000 words.
Although he surrounds himself with celebrities, the Los Angeles-based photographer doesn’t let the hype get to him. We chatted with Dove about transitioning from film to photography, that super sizzling Charlotte McKinney shoot, and what’s really behind the scenes of photographing the biggest celebrities.
You studied directing and cinematography at Emerson College, then you transitioned to Santa Monica College, where you studied photography. What made you pursue photography and when did you realize that it was your calling?
What happened from Emerson to L.A. was that I worked for a lot of big directors, [like] Francis Lawrence, who directed a lot of music videos and now, The Hunger Games. It was really hard to make a piece yourself. You know, you needed at least $10,000 bucks or something to buy film and really create a portfolio, music video, or short. I just didn’t have the means to do it.
I thought, “Well, I’ll do photography. It’s smaller, I don’t need all the crew, I can make a fee.” I was living at the time with Scott Weiland and he was putting together a band, Velvet Revolver, and I was like, “Can I come shoot the photos?” I bought a camera, like a little plastic camera, [at] Urban Outfitters
It was just more accessible at that time. I couldn’t afford doing film…but I needed a lab to develop photos. So, I ended up going back to school and that’s why I ended up at Santa Monica College, so I could use their lab. I ended up having [a] great teacher for black and white printing that actually used to work for Herb Ritts. I ended up meeting some of my really really good friends [such as] Brantley Gutiérrez, who’s a big music photographer.
I never finished anything [at Santa Monica], but I utilized the classes and one thing kinda led to another [and I] started working.
Some of the top models in the game like Kelly Rohrbach, Hailey Clauson, Hannah Davis, and Elsa Hosk have been photographed by you. Lucky you! How do all the girls know about you?
I would hope they do. I think some of them would look me up on Instagram before the shoot. I would love that they actually know me or see my work, I don’t know. Some of those girls may be [knowing my work], but with Instagram, it’s easy. People just see and know of a lot of different people’s work. That’s really the nice thing about Instagram. It’s got a great way of exposing you to some of those big brands in certain ways that your e-mail could never get through to or your work would never get to. If anything, it’s just probably just that or shooting their friends and their friend’s Instagram.
A couple months ago, you did a photoshoot with Charlotte McKinney and the photos are stunning! Can you give us more details about the project?
I just wanted to shoot [her] because one, she’s gorgeous and two, she’s witty and smart. There’s something you know, an X-factor, that intrigues me about certain people. You have the chance to work with them because the magazine wants to use them and asked me to do it.
Luckily, I can reach out to people I want to work with. I can create the opportunity. I reached out to Charlotte and said, “I’d love to work with you.” We shot, and knew that I could take the images and get them in a magazine. I talked to Esquire [Latin America] for a while and talked about getting in a shoot. They were really interested. So after the shoot was done, I sent them some of the images and they definitely wanted to run the stories. It was reaching out and then finding the right magazine to produce it. It’s nice to be able to make your own work. It’s important to know that you have the ability to do it. A lot of magazines outside the U.S. really count on it for a large part of the editorials that they do.
What aspects of the photoshoot did you both collaborate on?
I think the whole thing from showing up with the clothes and her letting her input on that to the location, even the photo selection, makeup, and everything. The best part about collaborating with people you respect is getting their opinion about what your ideas [are] and letting it kinda grow. So, I just showed her some of the clothes and reference images. She lent her hand [for] the hair and makeup and said, “Why don’t we do this with the red lip? Why don’t we put up the hair? It’ll be really cool to pin back the bob.” That’s the beauty of this industry: you kinda surround yourself with a lot of really talented people, and you get together and you make art. There’s just something magical that happens when you allow yourself to be open and trust the people are collaborating with you and their input. Some really good things can happen as far as art-wise and photo-wise.
It had that Pam Anderson effect to it because anytime I see photos of [her], I’m like, “Oh my gosh, she’s not even human!”
That’s a good point! There’s something in America about the blonde bombshell and it goes all the way back. Marilyn Monroe and Pam Anderson had something. There’s something iconic Americana about it and powerful. It’s not all looks. It’s also a lot of [being a] genuine good person and intelligence. I think it’s a very sexy intelligent feel as opposed to in-your-face sexy. I’ve always felt like there’s something behind those photos. There are some Pam Anderson photos that are burned into the back of my mind as well.
Although we are now in a very body-positive environment, women still feel self-conscious about their bodies – especially when it comes to doing lingerie, swimwear and nude editorials. As a photographer, how do you manage to make girls feel comfortable about their bodies?
You know, it’s weird. I know that the whole image game definitely plays with women’s self-consciousness. I think honestly at the core, I think that our society outside of photography has a part of it, too. So does women’s confidence in general. I usually just try to let to them know that there are so many different types of beautiful women. I think part of what I enjoy about shooting women is that I appreciate all different types and body sizes. I think what happens when I shoot is that the natural beauty of them comes out. Everyone on the other side of the lens feels confident and sexy. Hopefully, when that happens, there’s a certain just relaxed ability to be sexy being themselves. That’s when the best photos come out. It comes from a genuine state of appreciating women and allowing that to come through in a genuine way.
Apart from the models, you’ve shot some of the most important people in the entertainment business like Kendrick Lamar, Lenny Kravitz, Kanye West, James Franco, and Steve Aoki. What have you learned about them and how do you relate to these artists?
You know, it’s tough. I try to relate in a certain way. When I go on a shoot, I try to do as much research as I can. So, I have things to talk to them about, try to get what their passions are and get them to talk about things that they’re passionate about, which helps start a relationship.
You know, I’ve learned that the most important thing is to do my research and to have some similar interests to chat about. It’s funny, some of these people that I’ve actually shot…When I shot Kendrick Lamar, I don’t think he had the spotlight he has on him now. I still hear him do interviews [where he] talk[s] about love, stuff that’s really not the norm for guy who does the music that he does. It breaks the stereotype and I still have respect for the guys I get to shoot. It’s hard not to be a fan.
These days, the fashion and entertainment businesses are merging into each other and as a photographer, you work with both worlds. Are there any unwritten rules of working within both industries?
The only rule is that there are no rules. Every situation has its own rules. You got to take it as it’s own separate case. I think that’s what I learned the most. I take the experience from every shoot and bring it in the next shoot and realize that sometimes, none of it will pertain to the shoot coming up. That’s what’s interesting and a bit scary about this industry in general. It’s so different with so many personalities at times, the best thing you can do is that nothing is going to be the same. Just try to come from a genuine place, make good honest photos and you can’t go wrong when you do that.