PDN Photo of the Day

Dotan Saguy: Street Photography on Venice Beach

Tech entrepreneur Dotan Saguy, 46, is launching a second successful career, as a photojournalist and street photographer. Born in Israel and raised in Paris, he moved 13 years ago to LA, where he started a mobile app business. Now shooting full time, Saguy has gained recognition in particular for his ongoing personal project about Venice Beach. He told PDN via email about the project.

PDN: When did you start focusing your street photography work on Venice Beach in particular?
Dotan Saguy: I started shooting in Venice Beach in early 2015. It wasn’t like I committed to the project overnight though. Over time I came to a realization that I was making my most interesting images around Venice Beach and I felt increasingly drawn to its unique culture. I committed to creating a body of work focused on Venice Beach in early 2016. The project is very much still ongoing.

PDN: When did you start getting attention for your street photography?
DS: I was very shy to show my work until recently. When I started submitting [to publications] in December of 2015, my work was very well received. I was thrilled and frankly a bit surprised to get so much attention so quickly.

PDN: What accounted for your breakthrough? Can you identify when and how you found a distinctive voice as a street photographer?
DS: I think it was key to wait until I was ready to show my work and to fiercely edit down what I was showing….My voice as a photographer didn’t really start revealing itself until about 18 months ago when I started shooting almost daily and focusing on specific projects. It also coincided with when I started to use rangefinders, which turned out to be the right gear for me: Their fully manual and minimalist mode of operation feels more like an extension of my body than a separate tool.

PDN: What photographers have you studied the most, or have influenced you the most? How have they influenced your work?
DS: Henri Cartier-Bresson was always influential for me, both because of his geometric compositions and his sense of moment. Names like Willy Ronis, Elliott Erwitt, Sebastiao Salgado also come to mind. I should say that I share the French identity/experience with all these photographers so that could [also] be a factor in relating to their sensitivity and their work.

In terms of layering and complex compositions, I’ve been learning a lot from people like Alex Webb. His book The Suffering of Light is hugely influential for me.

Related Stories:
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Studio Tour: Kwaku Alston’s “Risky” Venice Beach Investment (For PDN subscribers; Log in required)

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