Michael Della Polla is a bright and young freelance photographer and retoucher based at New York. Having worked as an assistant for the celebrity photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, he shoots very impressive portraits and images of popular culture and lifestyle. Michael shoots a lot of musician and artist portraiture around NYC in film and digital ranging from a rebel to a 5×7 large format view camera or a medium format Pentax 6×7. Portraits of Michael reveal the personal of his subjects in a very subtle and calm way. His is what we call simple likeable images. There isn’t too much experimentation but the result is always comforting and inspiring. We’re showcasing some of his finer images with his imputs on his work and photography in general:
About me: I’m currently based at NYC but was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. I previously graduated from a University in Georgia with a degree in Biochemistry. After graduating I moved to NY and began working as a photographer’s studio manager. After lots of internships and assisting gigs, I currently am a Freelance Photographer and Retoucher. In terms of hobbies, I love to skateboard and bike around the city. I also go to a lot of concerts.
On photography: In college I shot for a couple of news papers. After college I worked at a summer camp teaching Photoshop. Not long after that summer job, I moved to new york to begin retouching and assisting on the professional level. I do a bad job of balancing work and real life and always have at least one camera with me. I often go from one gig to another gig.
I enjoy taking on photo projects and the process of creating an image. Often I will use different cameras in the same shoot. I see each camera as having different process and that it changes your interaction with your subject.
I am a hybrid digital and film photographer. Going from a Canon Rebel to a large format 5×7 view camera has a lot of effect on your resulting image. I feel that both photoshop and the darkroom is a necessary step for photographers. It is an opportunity to really sit with your photograph and sculpt it, paint it, and put together your vision.
I love shooting film. I use it as a tool to balance my digital photography. Recently I fell in love with the Pentax 6×7 camera. It is my go to! I can not afford to rent or buy a digital medium format camera, so this allows me to achieve a similar blur and depth. I feel like my photography is very clean and organized. These things are very important to me.
When the magazine gives me a project, I sometimes have full access with my subject, sometimes its the opposite. I recently photographed the musician Common. I had about 20 seconds with him as he walked from his car to a nearby charity event. The magazine had worked it out with the event that I was allowed to be there but Common had no extra time. Tons of planning went into the angle and lighting used. Coolest part was that I managed to shoot it on both my Rebel and Pentax 6×7. When it comes to shooting, I am very flexible. I can shoot anywhere, ideally, somewhere with great light and having the tools and assistants to modify that light.
My influences: I am a huge fan of Arnold Newman and Yousuf Karsh. Though biased, I am a big fan of Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (I was his first assistant for a year and a half). I plan to continue shooting celebrity portraiture as well as working on a series called “After Dark”.
To new photographers: I’d say you go out and shoot more and more. Every time you go out and photograph, you notice and learn new things. Experience is huge. Having experience shooting cars is the only way you can honestly imagine finding work in shooting cars. Your portfolio is ever growing.