Karl Dedolph Shares His Passion for Street Photography

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Fremont Street. All photos on this page courtesy Karl Dedolph.

I met Karl about 15 years ago when he became a consultant for AMSOIL INC., a synthetic oil company in Superior where I was employed. From the first it was apparent he was a man with an expansive enthusiasm for life.

Earlier in his career Karl’s chief passion was music. He owned a music store that made the “White Cloud Guitar” for Prince and knew many notables including Eric Clapton who had dinner at his home. Eventually his passion turned to becoming a world class sales and marketing consultant on filtration and lubrication, which he still does today.

The years that I’ve known him he’s always been a supporter of the arts, so it was not entirely surprising to see his interest in photography morph into a serious avocation. His niche is street photography and his current show, A London Fortnight, is on display at the Minneapolis Photo Center through the end of June.

EN: Very briefly, how did you come to take up photography as an avocation at this point in your career?

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Karl Dedolph: I looked back at youth when I started with a Kodak Brownie. Loved taking photographs of everyone and everything. Moved onto a Kodak Instamatic. By the time I was a teenager I had owned a variety of 35mm cameras and was pretty good with hand held meters.

In college I saw a few independent studies done by some students using slides to make their presentations. I figured I probably had the skill set and proposed an American Studies Independent Project on the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. I asked this girl if she wanted to be my partner and travel with me to study architecture and present our findings. I could have used my Honeywell Pentax 35mm camera, but we decided to borrow her father’s Leica M3 and set off on our adventure.

We visited some Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Chicago, IL, Oak Park, IL, Minnetonka, MN, Deephaven, MN, Independence, IA, Spring Green, WI, and an office building in Racine, WI. Everything was perfect; the project, a borrowed car, my exposure knowledge, and a couple of full rolls of slide film.

Well, not exactly…. It seems I forgot to take the lens cap off at every location. All the slides came out blank — pitch black! However, we did scramble to put together a written report and presented the blank totally black slides anyway to the professor and class with the corresponding descriptions.

“Notice the balance between the lightness and airiness of the glass in the upper right corner”, “this next slide shows simple geometric shapes”, “cantilevered roofs”, “coordinated design elements with plant forms”, etc. All the while acting impervious to what was on the screen and acting like nothing was wrong.

The rest is history. We got the grade and I still loved photography. My current consulting business has offered a lot of travel and adding photography just felt natural to take advantage of the opportunities. Especially chance encounters and random incidents with no boundaries.

It’s been an on and off love affair with photography. But this time I’m really trying to make it work.

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Bonneville Salt Flats

EN: What led you to select the “street photography” niche?

KD: I experimented over the years with different types of photography before I found my current niche. I was interested in landscapes, sports, automobiles, racing, antiques, as well as commercial projects when they became available. Sometime over the last decade I was drawn to street photography. I think it was the fact that I have always been fascinated with candid faces and people. I had discovered the work of street masters such as Bresson, Frank, Koudelka, Klein, Gilden, Erwitt, Maier, and Doisneau. After that, I became inspired by the work of the guys from “In-Public.”

EN: What’s the backstory on your current show in Minneapolis? It has a catchy title, A London Fortnight.

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Scene from “London Fortnight”

KD: I belong to a Minneapolis based professional photographers association that meets a couple times a month and does a hard critique of everyone’s street photos. It’s a really good way to hone your craft. Anyway, some of my London work had been published in a couple magazines, a few photography web sites, some International shows with just one or two photos, etc. I was approached by the owner of the Minneapolis Photography Center to do a show. He had seen some of the London work and we selected 23 pieces for the show. “Fortnight” is a British term for two weeks. All the photos in this show were from a 2 week period in January of this year, including the London “drug dealing photo” that really elevated my name recognition.

EN: What are two or three of your favorite places that you’ve practiced your craft?

KD: I get the best results not necessarily in world famous cities, but in dark alleys, street corners, older neighborhoods, under beach piers, shadows, early morning, later evening, etc. Basically, the path not well-travelled. It’s too easy to look like other street photographers who shoot soft targets, iconic backgrounds, people with cell phones, homeless, musicians, etc.

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A street artist in Paris.

EN: People are endlessly fascinating. It’s apparent that you have an eye for this. What kinds of things especially make you want to snap the shutter?

My motivation now is generally looking for a few different things: light, shadows, darkness, reflections, form, geometry, and shapes and then find people to add. Typically, 95% of my shots are without permission, but there are times I ask as well. My processing work flow engages dramatic contrast with the blacks and whites, a lower level of highlights, increased luminance, selected sharpness, clarity, dynamic range and grain similar to pushed film.

EN: Thanks for sharing. It will be interesting to see where this takes you.

Related Links

A London Fortnight
London Fortnight eBook
See more of Karl’s work at

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon

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