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Struggling Oakhurst Photographer Sells Out Exhibit's First Edition

Chronicling life through the lens of a camera is Kevin Dowling's primary passion.

Kevin Dowling of Oakhurst, sits in the back of a U-Haul that he rented to showcase his work this month, when area galleries either turned him down or were too expensive. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Dowling)
Kevin Dowling of Oakhurst, sits in the back of a U-Haul that he rented to showcase his work this month, when area galleries either turned him down or were too expensive. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Dowling)
In the visual arts, talent, of course, is the central factor.

But finding success is sometimes a question of timing and luck.

And so it is with Kevin Dowling, an Oakhurst photographer who recently found both.

Dowling, 31, set up his latest exhibit — a series of black and whites focused on images of Downtown Atlanta — in the back of a U-Haul truck earlier this month.

The Lillburn native, who set the mobile gallery in front of the Elliott Street Deli & Pub in Castleberry Hill, thought he'd sell a few images in this, the first edition of nine in the series.

But he had an unexpected turn: A buyer purchased the entire first edition for $20,000.

It wasn't just any buyer. It was Tyler Shields, a celebrity and noted Los Angeles-based photographer whose works are provocative and sometimes controversial.

"It was incredible. It filled my little heart with all kinds of hopes for the future," Dowling told Decatur-Avondale Estates Patch. "He's one of the most prolific photographers of out time."

Dowling, who focused on Downtown as the subject for the series because he spent a fair amount of time there, is currently looking for spaces to exhibit the next installment. (The U-Haul idea came about because some galleries turned him down or were too expensive.)

Shields' purchase of Dowling's work came at a critical juncture for the visual artist.

With a girlfriend and young son to support, he had to sell some of his photography equipment and take a job in food retailing to make up for the slow-going in commercial photography.

But chronicling life through the lens of a camera is his primary passion.

It was a passion he discovered on a family cruise when he was 12 and watching his late uncle take pictures with a Canon AE-1.

"There was something extra about him as a person because he had this camera," he said. "He could save his memories and create something extra because of this device."

An avid street skater in his youth in Downtown Atlanta, Dowling also he wanted to chronicle his and his friends' exploits.

"I picked it up as a way to document skate culture," Dowling said. "And it just transitioned into other aspects of my life."

Dowling sat down with Patch this week to discuss his work and the sale of the series' first edition. Please click on the video to hear excerpts of that interview.
Kevin Dowling January 21, 2014 at 05:56 PM
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