How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph? Are you planning every step or is it always spontaneous?
Much of the time is my preparation, especially before a trip abroad. I study the countries… I study the people….. And I try to learn the best locations because my images are used in so many magazines and different things all over the world…. That they have to really be as powerful as possible. Studying the types of images that sell… Is what you need to do to be successful and it’s all about preparation for me. But much of the time when I’m on location it can definitely be spontaneous as an idea will just pop into my head or I will meet the perfect subject and then a great idea will hopefully follow. When timing and creativity collide….. Then anything is possible so you always have to be prepared!
Could you tell our readers how to reach such excellent results in photography?
It’s really about determination and how much you want to push yourself. It’s about reading everything you can… As I get every magazine pretty much because you never know when your eye might see in one particular photograph that completely changes so much for you. This has happened to me quite often and I will push myself to venture off into different kinds of photography when I see something that really excites me. I am constantly looking on Google for so many different things whether it is an idea with photography or a new Photoshop idea. Google is really a photographer’s best friend as is Photoshop…..And you really have to be good with both… using both of them quite often as they will pay back in spades! Studying other photographers and seeing what makes them different is so incredibly important… But coming up with your own ideas and never staying stagnant and always thinking outside the box is what is going to make you different and have people wanting to know who you are and hopefully purchase your photographs. It’s all about how much you want to put into it. It really is.
Can you share what visually appeals to you as a photographer?
That’s really a tough one as I like so many different things. Sometimes I am totally turned on by night photography and shooting cars with slow speed photography…. Making them look like they are going 100 miles an hour…..As anything after dark is one of my favorite parts of photography. But also one moment I might think of trying the capturethe Eiffel Tower in a different perspective….But then I can be a top of the canyon… say at a gorgeous part of America…. And watching the sunset and realize that this might be my favorite part of photography and visually the most stunning in terms of just an awe inspiring moment. Visually… There is so much around the world that I love and probably my favorite thing is actually all the different kinds of people that I find all over the planet. Quite often, I am just walking into a store whether in the United States or a country far away…..And I will see a face… Whether it is a woman or a child… or an incredible looking man who has shown the years of a tough life all over his face…..And this gets me so intrigued and into a conversation with them and hoping that they will become a model for me. .. So many things really excite me and appeal to me and I’m just so happy I am a photographer and able to capture so many things all over the world that really intrigue me!
Light is such an important factor in photography. Describe your ideal lighting situation.
That’s also a very tough one. With my courses…. The number one thing I tell everyone is that “it’s all about the light!” That is what I stress and you can find beautiful light anywhere…… But I would have to say that quite often I am just mesmerized by sunrise or sunset light that just stops me in my tracks. When you’re in a place like Africa… and you are out at sunrise or sunset… this is really where you completely understand how important beautiful and soft light is. It changes everything when you capture a gorgeous cheetah and its cubs with gorgeous soft warm light. It really grabs you and humbles you and although so many people talk about the right time of day… and sunrise and sunset being the best for so many things…. It really is the truth.
Give me a beautiful sunset anywhere in the world…. And hopefully my camera will be nearby!
What fascinates you in places that you shoot?
I’m big into different cultures. And if I’m in Africa I want to be with the tribes just as much as I want to be capturing the animals. I love how different the people are all over the world and of course the different city life that you find….. The different architecture that is all over this planet…. And the way of life that people accept and really know nothing different. When I’m photographing kids in Cambodia…. They have not a clue of what life is like anywhere else and they have huge smiles and a great life….As they have no idea what it’s like in all of these other countries where people are so spoiled. I appreciate so much that they ask for so little and give so much…. And I really would have to say that it’s the people in countries all over the world that excite me the most and give me the best sense of appreciation for this big beautiful world. I’m so glad that I have a gift .. That lets me walk up to almost anyone…. And engage in conversation…. And then have them trust me that I can photograph them. I have
a very easy time being able to photograph almost anyone that I meet but I know this is a huge challenge for so many people. You just have to do your best at approaching people… And it really will come naturally!
What is your favorite subject to photograph and why?
Like I said… People… Locally and all over the world are without a doubt my favorite subject to photograph. If I had to pick one particular subject or people…. It would be the monks in Burma. They are without a doubt my favorite subject that I have ever photographed and a big part of my new book Passage to Burma. I have become very close with many of the very special MonkMasters in Burma…. And they have brought me into their culture and have given me incredibly special permission to photograph many of the monasteries….and monks…and nuns and this is something that is more special than anything else that I’ve ever done. Being around these very special people is probably the highlight of my life and I’m so happy that I was given the opportunity to do a coffee table book on this incredible country and their amazing culture. Even the kids all over the country with their Thanaka face paint… That they all wear on their faces…. Is incredibly powerful and just being with them day-to-day… Is more rewarding than almost anything else that I have done in my life. The
Do you tend to bring the same equipment on each shoot or do you change up your gear depending on the subject and theme?
The gear that I bring when I travel is usually similar from trip to trip as I love to bring superwide…. All the way to super telephoto…. As I never really know what I might run into. But quite often I will leave a lens or two at home depending on the location…. Or I will bring an extra lens or two. I always carry an extra camera body and my fiancé who is my assistant….Also carries a lot of gear so that we have plenty of stuff between the two of us. Sometimes I will bring small soft boxes…. And flash gear… And sometimes small light stands… But I always have my tripod and my reflectors in my diffusers with me no matter where I’m going. There is probably nowhere I would travel to without all three of those things. And many times… or even most times…. I have my laptop with me so that I can download and edit back at the hotel room.
What advice would you offer to photographers that would like to get into lifestyle photography?
It’s just about how much you want it…and how much you want to push yourself. Of course you do have to have some talent because the same goes for anything in life. If you’re not predisposed to be a great pianist….Then that might not be what you do in life. But with photography… there has to be some innate talent and then you can work on that talent and become incredibly talented as there is so much to learn in so many ways to grow in photography. You can suck up all the knowledge you can find… like a sponge…. And try and learn as much as possible…. But you also have to be good with technical things and have a huge willingness to try different things. You also have to be great with people if you want to do to things like lifestyle photography or even travel photography because for me… capturing people is more important than anything because images with people sell more than anything in the world… especially for stock photography.
But just like Nike says…. “Just do it!” That’s all there is to it. Just do it! Get out there and have that camera nearby!!! [Official Website][ Article]
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today.
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