Making Beautiful People Look Real and Real People Look Beautiful – John Dolan – New York Photographer

I see a whole lot of photography editing this blog.  I see amazing things and not so amazing things every single day.

And when  a friend of mine suggested I look at John Dolan’s site, I was prepared for more of the same.

But its not.

Its breathtaking and real. No tricks.

I can look at his site all day long.  Go and see… I dare you.

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Tell me your favorite gallery of his in a comment below and you are in the running for a Richard Photo Lab coupon.

50% off for first time customers… 25% off if you are like me and have used them before.

I am giving 3 coupons away.

Me? I’m torn between the Olivia gallery and his family group shots.  But seriously, I love every image on there.

And John Dolan is teaching a class in August in N.Y.  One that I’m debating going to .. its a 10 hour plane ride for me.  But I think it’s worth it.

And from John:

“I use a variety of film cameras, 35mm& 2 1/4, mostly ones that don’t have batteries or meters. (Cameras that don’t work if your batteries die are not for me.) When people ask why I don’t switch to all digital I say “Why would I give up over 25 years of film knowledge?”

Digital makes everything look good, but takes more work to make it look great. I am much more efficient with film. My motto to myself is “With film, the reward is well worth all the risk.”

Though always remember,  It ain’t the wand, it’s the magician.”



  • I have been a fan of John and his work for many, many years. I was fortunate enough to have worked with him some time ago. He is a true artist! His Olivia gallery has always mesmerized me. I think that may be my favorite. It’s always a treat to see your work, John!

    • Wendy says:

      I live under a rock… well really out in the middle of the pacific .. so I’m late to everything. but I am so glad I found his work. And Im very jealous you have worked with him!

  • Dawn Shiree says:

    I headed straight to his site when you mentioned it the other day… instant love for sure. My favorite gallery is the family one but they are all wonderful. Thanks for introducing him. 🙂

  • Amanda says:

    His gallery “Olivia” has been a favorite of mine for some time now.. so powerful and it strikes a chord in me no matter how many times I look at those photographs. That series reminded me of the exact reason I fell in love with photography.. the ability to capture someone’s entire LIFE as proof of your love for them… is there anything better than that? At the end of my road, if I’ve left that type of legacy for someone I’ve loved, I’ll be at peace.

    John Dolan rocks! I was so in awe of that series when I first saw it that I sent him an email about how wonderful it was and he actually took the time to respond and thank me.. He seems like a genuinely awesome person and his documentations of life are just incredible.

  • Kelsey C. says:

    Love love love his kids gallery! So natural and amazing!!

  • meg says:

    oh wow. what an awesome way to wake up this morning. john’s work is super inspiring…and now, I REALLY want to give shooting square another chance. {abby, my husband is not going to like you, because i put all the responsibility on your skinny shoulders}. his wedding gallery is so fresh…but the olivia gallery. wow. and now i know i just gotta keep shooting my own kids & family…and keep them in a safe place….xx

  • amie hansen says:

    adore the kids section of his amazing site.. love the moments captured..

  • I have falling in love with John’s work! Summer, I would have to say it my favorite. It’s like looking back at your childhood summers. Something about it makes me feel 12 years old again. Stunning work John Dolan. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • vicki says:

    I love the lifestyle gallery! The images are so natural, fun and carefree.

  • Jessica Schilling says:

    Such beautiful, real images. I just got lost in the Wedding gallery and want to go back and absorb them all more fully!

  • Kristin says:

    Thank you so much for introducing me to John Dolan’s work! THIS is what life is about. I love all his galleries and had a hard time picking just ONE to call a favorite, as each one resonates with life. I am putting Olivia as my favorite, since I am being asked to choose just one. xo

  • Derek says:

    Really dig his marriage portfolio. His use of light and compositions are beautiful. Very inspirational work!

  • Zack says:

    EASY. Portrait at Work. They are all stunning, every single one.

  • Harmony says:

    Wow, his work just makes me feel at home. I love his family gallery…it is so real and such great emotion….everything I love about family photography!!!

  • sarah c. says:

    Thanks for introducing me to another great film photographer! I especially loved the “lifestyle” gallery. I just shot my first rolls of film, so I would love the coupon for RPL!

  • My initial exposure to his work was with his personal work -Olivia. To this day his capture of her strikes my heart. Her eyes..he’s captured her soul in them. I love his work.

  • Thank you for the introduction to John’s work. I am most drawn to the Olivia gallery. She reminds me so much of my daughter. She’s 5 now, but time moves so quickly. I felt like I was watching my own daughter grow up through this gallery.

  • His work is breathtaking. I especially admire his “Summers” gallery.

  • Jaclyn Jezik says:

    Tough. But being a mom I think I have to say “Olivia”. You can tell that he wanted to capture her every second of life.

  • amy grace says:

    i could get lost here. i will, another day. takes honest beauty to another level. beguiling. the olivia gallery is the most moving to me.

  • Meghan Boyer says:

    i love looking at his site. It’s been a while so thanks for the reminder of his beautiful work. I love his wedding work. So unique and beautiful. far different from the same wedding images (all be it beautiful) i see all over.

  • kati says:

    oh wow. how can you not just get completely choked up going through that olivia gallery?! the love and amazement felt from both she and john on either side of the lens in each one is just stunning. so glad i took a look.

  • toni raper says:

    Have you heard his Musea interview?
    All the galleries are phenomenal but Couples do it for me right now because I am madly in love myself.

  • suzyb says:

    I’ve been such a big fan of John’s for a while now, his work is so honest and he is incredibly talented. I agree with the many other commenters, I LOVE his Olivia gallery

  • Melissa says:

    The Olivia gallery is amazing thank you for introducing me to this wonderful artist!

  • Becky says:

    Love the Olivia gallery. Just gorgeous images!

  • Meaghan says:

    It’s got to be summers. so good.

  • Nikki says:

    Thank you for sharing his work. WOW:) Ahhhhhhh…..I’m having a hard time deciding between the family & the kids gallery. All his work is amazing. Geeez. Um, do I gotta pick one? lol. ok ok. ooooh. Family! Adore that gallery.

  • Emily says:

    So visceral and nostalgic. The Oliva gallery is exactly the sort of long, beautiful, observation I’d like to gift myself and my daughters someday. His work is truly inspiring.

  • Teddi Yaeger says:

    Great stuff! If I had to choose one favorite, it would be John’s Kids gallery.

  • Linnea says:

    Wow, what beautiful work. Thank you for sharing.

    I love his couples gallery – you said it – so so real. I would love to have pictures like that of my husband and I.

  • Ally says:

    His Kids Gallery reminds me of the pictures my camera is full of and I never think they are perfect enough to bother printing. Now, seeing such as them on screen, I am compelled to take them to be printed, as they are, without a bit of touching here and there.
    Cheers to the glory of how it was, just how it was.

  • Jen O. says:

    Just incredible. He captures these moments. I feel as if I know them. As if I’m there. Images so full of life. His Olivia gallery is by far my favorite. So emotive and compelling. What a beautiful gift.

  • Hands down his Olivia gallery. Makes me tear up every time I see it.

  • Kia says:

    I love his Olivia gallery, too. Mainly because it’s a great body of work and you can tell that he loved his subject. To span such a time frame like that too is awesome. To see her eyes grow older and wiser…ugh. So, so beautiful. I can only dream to make a body of work like this some day to perhaps honor my own kids.

  • ketti says:

    I’m so glad I looked at this. It’s been a while since I took the time to be a viewer of photography and this was inspiring. There were several images there that just stopped me in my tracks. If I have to pick one, I choose the Family gallery.

  • Elisa says:

    I am completely smitten with the Olivia gallery. Thank you the chance to win an amazing prize.

  • Bonnie Berry says:

    Definitely Olivia. I have been a HUGE fan of his work for years.

  • Carrie Geddie says:

    Oh geez, to pick a favorite. I have to go with the family gallery. They’re completely timeless images and there is so much heart. What an inspiring artist.

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  • Preston Davis says:

    I've spent many moments getting lost in John Dolan's "Family" gallery. It always inspires me to pick up my Rolleiflex and shoot my family.

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