An Evening with Explorer of Light Bruce Dorn

Bruce Dorn
Bruce Dorn

From film to digital, and stills to video, Emmy-nominated Bruce Dorn has done it all. Dorn worked in Hollywood for 20 years as a director and producer of commercials for a “who’s-who” of Fortune 500 companies. Most recently, Dorn has been traveling the world as a member of the Expeditions 7 team, documenting a two-year overland trip around the world. Dorn is one of Canon’s most active Explorers of Light, an elite group of the world’s leading professional photographers assembled by Canon to provide insight, inspiration, and education to future generations of creative photographers and videographers. Dorn’s “innate ability to recognize and celebrate subtle beauty” makes up the core of his successes as an image-maker – in any medium.

Dorn will be coming to Columbus to talk about his career and his transition from film photography, to cinematography, to HDSLR video, to what he uses now: Canon’s high-quality Cinema line of affordable, accessible professional video cameras, such as the Canon EOS C100. A champion of HDSLR’s ability to “democratize” the video-making process, Dorn’s presentation is designed to help Still Photographers feel more confident about making the plunge into HD Filmmaking. He will share how he, as a small-town photographer and filmmaker, has leveraged his hybrid capture skill-set to land projects that have literally taken him around the world.

This exclusive speaking event is perfect for wedding or event photographers looking to add video to their professional repertoire, current videographers who want to learn from one of the world’s leading digital videographers, or anyone else who likes to hear stories of travels and triumphs from a videographer who’s done it all.

We asked Dorn a few questions about his current trip with the Expeditions 7 team, his desire to educate others, and what he talks about when he talks about beauty.

bruce dorn 1
Photo courtesy of Bruce Dorn

MPEX: Recently, you’ve been traveling around the world with the Expeditions 7 team. How did you get involved with this adventure and what has been your favorite aspect of this trip (if it’s even possible to narrow down an experience like this to one favorite aspect)?

Bruce Dorn: In the summer of 2011, I got a call from a fella seeking advice on HD filmmaking with the then-new HDSLRs from Canon.  It turned out that it was Scott Brady, Professional Adventurer & Publisher of The Overland Journal – which is, for all practical purposes, the bible of mechanized adventure travel.

I was a long time fan of Scott’s magazine and astonished to learn that his editorial offices were less than 10 miles from my own.  We set a date to meet for coffee and quickly became fast friends.  Scott had a mini-expedition scheduled for the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend and I weaseled my way into an invitation to tag along.  It turned out to be a grueling affair but despite being the most senior member of the team by twenty years I pulled my weight and added a bit of entertainment value along the way.

Having proven my toughness under fire, Scott offered me a place on the E7 team when the position of cinematographer opened up on short notice. That was in March of 2012 and since that time we’ve almost spent more time with each other than we have with our beleaguered and incredibly understanding wives. We’re international wingmen and trust each other with our lives – literally.

I like the part where we inspire total strangers to realize that you can fulfill your dreams.  You just have to do it.

Spreading your knowledge, whether it be via your blog or the appearances you make as an Explorer of Light at events like the one we’re hosting, seems to be an important aspect of your photographic lifestyle. Why is educating others important to you?

I come from a mindset that true wealth is measured by the value of what you willingly and happily give away.  A “pay it forward” sort of thing.

My father was one of those fellas that busted his ass just to earn our daily bread and had little time for playing catch or going fishing or any of that stuff that lends itself to turning a boy into a man.

Thankfully, I was blessed to cross paths with a series of kind and nurturing adult males who each, in turn, helped to shape the man I became.  Guys who recognized my unique creative gifts and treated my like a valued son.

I share, teach, and nurture because I know no other way. If you won’t share your gifts, you don’t deserve to have them.

You say that it’s your “innate ability to recognize and celebrate subtle beauty that has been at the core of all of my successes as an image-maker.” How do you define beauty when it comes to photography and videography? Is recognizing beauty something you can teach?

Without consciously prioritizing the acts of actively “looking” and “seeing,” we quickly reduce the visual appreciation of our environment to little more than ticking off items on a binary checklist:

  • Face – Check!
  • Female – Check!
  • Blonde – Negative!
  • Brunette – Check!

As the descendant of multiple bloodlines of artists and writers, I’m genetically predisposed towards looking at the world with the fresh eyes of a child. Even now, at age sixty-two, I’m amazed by everything I see.

How do I define beauty? Elemental Truth. I actively look for the essence of a thing and inevitably find its “beauty”. . .

Active seeing is teachable though!  Just passively casting your gaze about is not enough to recognize complex beauty.  You have to learn to “see.”

As a young wet-behind-the-ears Hollywood Director, I had the unique opportunity to study at the knees of some of the greatest cinematographers who ever lived. Learned a lot. Definitely know how to teach it. The student must be ready to learn.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Dorn
Photo courtesy of Bruce Dorn

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