Six Questions With Photographer Kieran Dodds

The photojournalist talks about his Bionic Man assignment and what his plans are for taking over our Instagram account

Photographer Kieran Dodds has temporarily taken over the Smithsonian magazine Instagram account. (Kieran Dodds)

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Award-winning Scottish photojournalist Kieran Dodds is taking over the Smithsonian Instagram account this week. Kieran’s photograph of the Touch Bionics iLimb Ultra graces the cover of the current issue of Smithsonian. He corresponded with the photo editor Jeff Campagna below:

What intrigued you about this assignment?

Well, naturally, I am prejudiced against robots (due their potential to take over the world) but at this moment a bionic hand beats a new smart phone any day!  Having studied animal physiology I am aware of the complexity of organic systems so I wanted to see how far people have come to copying nature's blueprint.

How did you initially approach it?

We took a while to work out the different gestures and then translate the most suitable into two dimensions.  We tried different lighting, background and props but in the end the cover shot actually came once the 'safe' shots were in the bag and we were messing around with the hands.

What was the most interesting thing you learned from the photo shoot?

Hands are amazing!  The technology sheds light on how incredible are human hands–the range of movement, the balance of sensitivity to strength and their fine-tuned controls.  But this technology is life-changing for the user, and I am excited to see how it develops over the coming years.

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So besides shooting robotic hands, what kind of projects have you been working on recently?  

I am just back from a story on child exploitation in Malawi.  I have been overseas for my personal work in recent years, but I will be focusing on Scotland in the coming months.  The Independence referendum in September 2014 is making me think a lot about our national identity and its place on the world stage.

And what can we expect to see from you on Instagram this week?

I want to take you on a tour of unseen Scotland like a friend from overseas.  I am going to continue the theme of innovation and try get as far away from whisky and kilts as I can! Expect science labs, heavy industry, some bonny (pretty) landscapes and maybe a panda or two.

Characterize your style using three words, using no adjectives. 

words fail me

Follow Smithsonian magazine on Instagram to see Dodds’ photography as well as snapshots from other contributing photographers.


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