Interview with Scott Bourne

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Self-portrait: Interview with Scott Bourne

Scott’s been involved with photography for more than four decades and is an internationally-recognized thought leader and artist. His work has appeared in more than 200 publications and he’s received hundreds of industry awards for his photography.

Scott’s led workshops and seminars, taught for or spoken at conferences or events sponsored by Palm Beach Photographic Center, Cooperative Communicators of America, The National Association of Photoshop Professionals,,, the National Association of Broadcasters, North American Music Merchants, MacWorld, Washington Professional Photographers Association, WPPI, PartnerCon, PPA, Seattle Art Center, Marketing Essentials International, The Consumer Electronics Show and Olympic Mountain School of Photography.
Scott was one of the first photographers ever to receive the designation Apple Certified Professional Trainer (T3) for Apple’s Aperture. He’s also previously held the designation Certified Adobe Photoshop Instructor. He was one of the first photographers to receive the Professional Photographers of America’s Certified Professional Photographer designation and also holds the Master Photographer designation awarded by the Washington Professional Photographers Association.
Huffington Post recently named Scott one of the most influential photographers on social media. Scott’s business acumen and marketing skills have landed him on the boards of directors or advisors for dozens of media companies and Internet startups, as well as several large photographic-related businesses [Official Website]

“For me, bird photography as art is about two connecting themes: extraordinary craftsmanship in terms of technical mastery of photography and a fundamental understanding of the dynamics of the nature behind the image.”

How did you get interested in photography?

I always had a camera around but my first girlfriend in high school was the real reason I got involved with photography. Her father was a newspaper photo journalist and he gave me a Nikkormat 35mm SLR (my first “real” camera.) As luck would have it, my circumstances (growing up in Indianapolis, Indiana) did the best of the work.

My half-sister was married to the editor of a local newspaper and he got me into the Indy 500 race as a stringer. I got super lucky and grabbed a shot of a crash that got published in major newspapers around the country and I also got a check that was big enough to buy a car so right then and there I knew that is what I wanted to do the rest of my life.

What inspired you to take your images?

I love telling stories and protecting memories. Life has the permanence of a rainbow. But through photography, tiny slivers of it can live on and beyond. The ability to make something that might outlive me offers me an odd sense of peace. I have no children so my photography is my progeny.

Three words that describe your works?

Tight, close, in-depth.

How would you define your general style of photography?

I don’t really have any idea how to answer this question so I will fumble through it best I can. I like clean, simple, un-cluttered images where the subject mostly fills the frame or at least dominates it. I don’t go in for fads.

I just try to see a story unfolding in any prospective scene and then I capture that as cleanly and smoothly as possible. I try very hard to get everything just right in-camera because I am too lazy to do much work in post and I made the decision long ago that I’d rather click a shutter button than a mouse button.

What do you think makes a memorable image?

If an image evokes an emotional response, good or bad, happy or sad – then I think it is memorable. If it tells a story or pulls you in somehow and makes you wonder what was happening there or how the subjects were feeling or what they were doing, then it is memorable. I think whether or not an image wins a prestigious award is not necessarily worthy of being declared memorable. The most memorable image you make may impress only one person but if it does so in a profound way that impacts their future, it’s indeed memorable, even if nobody else ever sees it.

How do you know you got the shot you wanted?

I like to study my subjects for a long time. I learn everything I can about them. For instance, in the last third of my career I have focused primarily on bird photography. I went back to school to study ornithology so I could understand more about my subject. That ability to possess intimate subject knowledge gets me an advantage.

Your idea of the perfect composition?

I next like to pre-visualize. My photo entitled “Cranes in the Fire Mist” took me more than a dozen years to make because I went back to the place where I made it year-after-year to get everything just right. I guess I’d say when I get a final result that perfectly matches what I pre-visualized, I know I got it right.

What would I find in your camera bag?

That’s a long list – feel free to edit it down but here’s most of it..

Cameras: Canon 1DX MKII / Canon 1DX

Lenses: Canon EF100-400 f4.5-5.6 L IS II / Canon EF24 f/1.4 L II / Canon f/4 400 DO IS II USM / Canon EF 70-200 f/4 IS / Canon 50mm f/1.8 / Canon EF 2X III Extender / Canon EF 1.4X III Extender / Canon Extension Tube EF 25 II

Flash & Accessories: Canon Speedlite 430 EX III RT / Canon off camera shoe cord OC-E3 / Gary Fong GFLSC01 LightSphere Collapsible Flash Diffuser / Gary Fong AMBDOM AmberDome for LSU and LS2 (Amber)

Support: Kirk Photo Replacement Foot for Canon 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM – LP-59 / Kirk Photo Replacement Foot for Canon EF100-400 f4.5-5.6 L IS II – LP-61 / Jobu Design BWG-J3K Jobu Jr.3 Gimbal Kit with Swing-Arm HM-J2 / Really Right Stuff TVC-23 Tripod / Induro BH2 ball-head / Kirk Photo Mini Table Top Tripod / Kirk PZ-150 Camera Plate for Canon 1D x / Kirk Khaki Fat Bag / Gitzo GM2561T Series 2 6X Carbon Fibre Traveler Monopod / Platypod Pro/Platypod Max

Filters: A range of Sigh-Ray filters / B+W Circular Polarizer Slim MRC filters / B+W 10 f/stop filter

Bags: ThinkTank Airport Security V2 / Custom vest to fit the equipment above / Pelican Black 1610 Hard Case With Padded Dividers / Pelican 1510-004-110 Case with Padded Dividers

Digital Darkroom Hardware: MacBookPro / iMac 5K Computer / Drobo 5D / Drobo 5N / Dobo Mini

How important is an awesome website for your business?

I think (like everything photography related) it depends. If you are interested in a retail client base then very important. If you are established and already have commercial clients who work with you, contacting them directly with a portfolio or private link to new images always works best for me. I think a good online portfolio is probably a must these days although I am never happy with mine.

How has social media played a role in your photography?

It’s changed everything. Some for the good and some for the bad. On the good side it’s given me an audience of hundreds of thousands of people and I enjoy most of the interaction there. It’s also been very good for me financially. I have done everything from sell actual prints on Twitter to booking workshops, being asked to speak at major conferences, getting book deals, etc.

On the negative side – social media can be quite brutal. People who are jealous of your success will attack you rather than work on their own issues. It’s a two-edged sword. I took a break from it for 14 whole months and I cam back refreshed and with new policies and a new attitude that make me more productive there.

What future plans do you have?

I am going to be leading some private bird photography workshops here in the states and finishing up my next book “88 Secrets to Bird Photography.” I continue to consult with my business partner Rich Harrington, now the publisher of and I am always open to the next big adventure, whatever it is. But at my age making long-term plans seems presumptuous!

Interview with Scott Bourne
Interview with Scott Bourne
Interview with Scott Bourne
Interview with Scott Bourne
Interview with Scott Bourne
Interview with Scott Bourne

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