About My Work

My background is in commercial art and design, which I studied at Virginia Commonwealth University 1970-74.  I have been photographing my friends, family and whatever else caught my eye since the gift of a 35mm Lieca camera at age 11.  At VCU, I had intended to concentrate on painting and printmaking.  My decision to study commercial art was a compromise after family members convinced me that making a living as a painter was all but impossible. It was not until the 80's, while doing drawings and paintings based on my photos, that I realized that photography could be an end in itself. 

I work mainly with the human figure, sometimes in conjunction with unusual props such as fire, snakes and bones.  For a long time, my work contained a very strong, and personal religious element.  My mentors are photographers Emmet Gowin, Robert Mapplethorpe, Annie Leibovitz and the almost forgotten portrait photographers, Starr Ockenga and Norman Seef.  The later was probably my greatest inspiration.  His work was done strictly for record album covers throughout the 70's and 80's, combining a simple commercial lighting technique with a unique printing style.  I spent many hours in the darkroom trying to uncover the secret of his "look" (I finally did -- thanks Norman!).   I also photograph dance and performance art (see my dance photography at www.sfdproject.org, www.dimsumdance.org and www.andycoppola.com)

I gave up shooting on film and working in the "wet" darkroom about four years ago for digital imaging.  A bit ironic as I graduated nearly a decade before the "digital age" -- the mid 1980's.  I am entirely self taught in computer technology and all the software that I use.  The images on this site,, with a few exceptions that were originally shot on film, were shot with various Canon digital SLRs and lenses.  Images originally shot on silver negatives or color transparencies have been scanned and converted to digital format.  All lighting is by studio electronic flash, even some of my outdoor images.  The images are then archived on discs and external hard drives kept in separate locations.  Prints are made using a photographic quality inkjet printer (Epson and Canon large format printers), archival inks and acid free paper.  I use Adobe Photoshop CS6 for minor touchup and color correction and the occasional composite image.

I am always looking for new models -- nudity not required.  Any physical type is OK, but dancers, actors and other performers are always welcome as are any other outgoing types, male or female.  If you are ever in the Richmond, VA area, and are interested in posing for me, send me an email (dhayesphotography@yahoo.com).