Dondre Green has the right idea.
You might think we say that because he shoots with a Z 50, but that's not the idea we're talking about. What Dondre does is shoot with what we consider an ideal mix of planning, spontaneity and improvisation. He is both in and of the moment.
Dondre is a photographer, director, multimedia artist and founder/director of Bronx Narratives, a print and digital publication focusing on the positive aspects and attitudes of his community.
Along the way in these endeavors, he shoots a mix of what's planned, what's set up, what he didn't expect and sometimes what amounts to an on-the-spot course correction to avoid a dead end.
The Z 50, we might mention, is a camera for all of that. A camera that's versatile, capable and, with a little practice, practically intuitive. Which means that Dondre's Z 50 is going to feed into the stream of his assignments, his Instagram posts, his shoot-and-share walking-around moments and his images for Bronx Narratives.
Well, okay...Dondre has more than just one right idea.
When we talked with him about his photography, we started with something he'd said previously: "Different spaces intrigue my creative sense." We liked that because it tied into an aspect of his photography that caught our eye right from the start: his compositional use of backgrounds for graphic effect. "I think a lot about framing," Dondre says, "and the idea of how much I want the background to amplify the storytelling. Sometimes just by going down the block, especially in New York City, it's a completely different story because of the way the light's hitting or what the storefronts are."
Most of Dondre's work recently is based on creating a mood board for the images—a graphic depiction, often a collage, of the feeling of the project or assignment. "The mood board will create an idea base for me or for my subject," he says, "and then we explore. The board isn't the detailed shoot, it's more an inspiration for the shoot, a creativity field to pick from."
He adds that lately he's transitioned into storytelling, which includes video, and for that he's doing storyboards—"creating a character, and a narrative for that character."
Sometimes this storytelling requires Dondre to direct his subjects; other times it's just cueing them to the feeling he wants and asking, "What would you like to do right here?" That approach, he says, can result in the person doing something that exceeds what he would have probably directed.
Dondre cited the Z 50's silent shutter as playing an important part in his work. "I shoot a lot of tai chi, meditation, a lot of spiritual workshops, and that's like shooting a church service. When the quiet, sacred moments come, you want to capture them."
Near the end of our talk he paid the camera a high complement, and we'll end with that: "It's compact, light, with Wi-Fi capability to my phone [via the SnapBridge app.], and a great travel camera as well. But for me the thing is the base photo. I want to generate what's natural and do minimal edits, and for that, the Z 50 is a great content creator."
Couldn't have said it better ourselves.