Frank Doring was born and raised in Frankfurt, Germany where he received his M.A. at Freiburg and Berlin in Germany and then in the U.S. received his Ph.D. at Princeton University. His first career was a cognitive science researcher at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, France. Then he became a philosophy professor at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Cincinnati.
During the time of both these jobs, Frank realized there was something missing in his pursuit of an academic teacher and researcher, so he started a new career as a freelance photographer. He mainly photographs landscape, architecture, and people.
LAL (Lexington Art League): What is your background as an artist? What choices or influences in your life have led you to pursue this career? Did you always know you wanted to be a photographer?
FD (Frank Doring): Photography first touched me when I was a teenager. I had the good fortune of meeting someone twice my age at a jazz concert who turned out to be an Associated Press photographer and took me under his wings. I soon announced to my high school German teacher that I wanted to become a photographer too. She told me I was crazy. So I became a philosophy professor instead. I kept taking pictures on the side, built my first darkroom with my academic paycheck, spent too much time there, and twenty-five years after my pronouncement took the plunge.
LAL: What inspired you to create this piece? Is there a story behind it?
FD: I was out stress-testing a new lens under real-life conditions. A scraggly winter landscape in harsh, contrasty sunlight works well for that sort of thing. I had decided to pay Weisenberger Mill a visit because I was low on bread flour and curious to see how they had fared during the recent floods. The flotsam was easy to spot but quite hard to reach. I kept breaking knee-deep through what looked like reasonably firm ground.
LAL: What made you choose this title for your piece? Are you a fan of basketball?
FD: Who wouldn’t think of March madness when discovering an abandoned basketball in Kentucky in March? I am no fan, but that craze is hard to ignore.
LAL: How have other cultures impacted your work as a photographer?
FD: If academia counts as another culture, as it probably should, then it has taught me great respect for clear thinking and intellectual honesty. The kind of philosophy in which I was involved is somewhat technical. Its arguments and proofs can be more or less clumsy, elegant, or even beautiful. These abstract aesthetic qualities find their counterparts in photography.
LAL: What is the one thing you hope for people to take away from viewing “March Madness 2014"?
FD: I hope they enjoy their visual experience and perhaps extract a worthwhile thought (e.g. about Kentucky, plastic waste, basketball, the climate...) from the flotsam. Oops, these are already two things.
LAL: How would you describe your style?
FD: Deadpan tongue-in-cheek.
LAL: What type of cameras do you shoot with?
FD: Digital mirrorless, DSLR, 4" x 5" view camera (with sheet film), depending on how hard I am willing to work, how large I might print, whether the subject holds still, whether I might have to beat a hasty retreat.
LAL: What advice would you give to new artists/photographers?
FD: Before you write your next artist’s statement, google “artspeak” or “artist statement generator” and mull over some of the results.
Check out Frank's website: www.doeringphoto.com