On High

Photographer: Matthew Dols

Model: Lenka @ Balint Nemes Personal Model Management

Hair / MUA: Ariana Mansfeld – Makeup Institute
Stylist: Matthew Dols
Editorial Producer: Balint Nemes
Location: Hotel Golf


I was raised by a father who is an episcopal minister and a mother that is an interior designer, I grew up in Arlington Virginia (just outside of Washington DC), I have been many things in my life from a clientele specialist in the women’s department at Banana Republic and a roadies touring around with rock and roll bands, I am currently an Assistant Professor. I have lived many different lives, continually reinventing myself with each new life.

I got into photography when I was in 7th grade when I was part of the yearbook staff. I was not a good writer, but I could make things look pretty, so I was introduced to photography for the yearbook. After high school I went on to earn my Bachelors of Art from the University of Iowa, my BFA in photography from the Corcoran School of Art and Design, and my MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute.

When I moved to Washington DC after graduating from the University of Iowa I got my first paying photography assignment from the Washington City Paper. They asked me to make photos on the set of an illegal pornography production in Washington DC. I had to go to some ladies house in DC and photograph them making a very low budget pornography film in the basement of the house, while making my photos family friendly for the City Paper.


I have been trying to balance the idea of being an artist and a fashion photographer for a few years now. But I have recently had a crisis of faith and have decided to devote my time to being an artist. I am going back through all of my work over the past 8 years and completing the 6 series of photographs (an 2 book projects) that I started but never completed. So in the future I will be exhibiting my artwork and having prints and books for sale.


I approach every shoot with the idea that I want to do the same thing differently. I want to use the right tool, for the wrong reason, or the wrong tool for the right reason. I like turning things on their heads, not doing what is expected. Mixing techniques that generally do not go together and rethinking what the right thing is. As a professor, one of my favorite things is how beginners do not know enough to know what they cannot do. I try to keep that sense of wonder and push things to the point of breaking them.


I try to keep my team as small as possible; I find big productions to be intimidating to everyone involved. I like to keep the stress level low, and find a personal connection. Aesthetically I start with finding the most appropriate light, everything else is works itself out after that.

My photography heroes are Joel Peter-Witkin, Jock Sturges, Doug and Mike Starnes, Robert Heinecken, John Baldessari, Vik Muniz and Idris Khan.  I continually play with techniques and tools, then adhere them to the most appropriate subject. Art is not made in a vacuum, I get my inspirations from living life, and thinking about how life works. Questioning everything. My favorite question is “Why?”


I am an assistant professor of new media at Zayed University. I have the luxury of being a professor for money and I get to make my art for the love of making art.
I am focusing on making my artwork and less on commercial work. So most of my clients are art galleries and boutique magazines.


The best things that a young photographer can do is learn the history of photography. There is nothing worse then copying someone else (someone who probably did it better).

Matthew Dols is an Assistant Professor of New Media in the College of Arts and Creative Enterprises at Zayed University. He has his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and a BFA from the Corcoran School of Art and Design. His artwork has been exhibited internationally and is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, Crown Point Press, the Auchenbach Collection, Palace of Fine Arts, and the Al Serkal family.

You will find more images from Matthew Dols at http://www.matthewdols.com/