Jack Graham - I am very fortunate to live this life

>>> Click image below to see Jack's video interview.

MUSIC AS A METAPHOR

I’ve worked with a lot of really great singers, who have some really bad bands. Conversely some really bad singers, that have really great bands. The singer is the subject, the orchestra is the back ground. When they both work as one it sounds really good. When you have a good subject and good light is when great things happen.

LANP_GTNP_SCHW3_120930_1582-800px.jpg

LEFT BRAIN VS. RIGHT BRAIN

We all have left brains and right brains. When I have a workshop and I have eight engineers I know that it’s going to take me a day to just get those guys creative. 

When I have artists, I know they need to be a little more analytical. Being able to use both sides at the same time is extremely important. I always tell folks that they need to know how their camera works, inherently whether to compensate, what to do here, what to do there, so that the creative process can flow. That’s where I’ve seen people needing the most help, is seeing images and being creative. 

JG2-800px.jpg

WHEN I DRIVE TO THE STORE, I SEE PHOTOGRAPHS

I think you can learn to see a photograph; I think you can develop your own vision. It’s not going to happen overnight—it might be tomorrow, might be a year from now, but you'll figure it out, and you can learn to see. You have to appreciate some of the nuances.

_DSF2075-Edit-Edit-Edit-800px.jpg

ALIVE

I was in Iceland last summer, and we were walking through some of the Icelandic horses. They came up to me like trained, well-behaved dogs.  They began to run toward me, and I totally forgot that I had a wide-angle lens on, I think it was about 35mm. I just started shooting these guys.  When I took a few frames, I put the camera down and they were about ten feet away. My heart was going, and I was hoping I got a good shot. I did get a decent shot, and it was the most exciting moment of the year.

ICELAND HORSES 2014-800px.jpg

ADVICE

There are three things I stress on my workshops. One is slowing down. The other is slowing down. And the other one is slowing down. 

LANPJT_BARKER2_1003_2559f-800px.jpg

I really enjoy the experience of being out, if I get some photographs, so be it. But, ya know, the hunt is more fun than the kill. 

MORMON ROW-ICE MIIST 27 BELOW-800px.jpg

I love being with groups of people and communicating, and giving back a little bit, I’m just very fortunate to live this life.

_DSC6338-Edit-Edit-Edit-Edit-800px.jpg

For more of Jack's work, see www.jackgrahamphoto.com

Watch the complete interview in the video at the top of this page.

Kevin Adams - North Carolina Waterfalls and the Night Sky

>>> Click image below to see Kevin's video interview.

The first thing I did was come up to the mountains and hunt waterfalls and take pictures of the waterfalls. It stuck with me.

Learning

I started subscribing to Outdoor Photographer the first year it came out. Like so many people my age, I started out learning from the greats, Galen Rowell, John Shaw, Larry West, people like that, reading everything that I could get me hands on. 

Turning point

The big turning point for me was when I realized that it was okay to not believe what I was reading—that I could make my own decisions. If I witnessed something, if I saw or experienced something that was counter to what I was reading, it didn't mean that I was making a mistake. When I realized that, I felt like I really started to be able to make photos.

Affect on life

Photography is an excuse, a reason if you will, to get out of bed in the morning and see that sunrise, and to stay out for that sunset, when maybe you'd rather go in and have dinner. And to hike that trail that maybe you wouldn’t hike because your knees aren't feeling good, but you do it anyway. Photography is the mechanism that keeps you on course to do that.

As photographers, we see and experience the natural world in a way that others don’t. For instance, if it wasn't for my waterfall books, I wouldn't have seen a thousand waterfalls in North Carolina. There’s no way I would have gone to a lot of them. I just wouldn’t have. But because I'm working on this project, I have to get this photo, I have to do this research for this waterfall, and it forces me to go. In the process, I'm seeing and experiencing things, and I'm happy when I get back.

ALIVE

I discovered a waterfall that I suspected was there but had to hike in to find out. There was no trail whatsoever. When I got to the base of it, it was an absolutely gorgeous waterfall with no sign that any other human had ever been there. I’m sure hunters and fishers had been there, but it was not something that the photo crowd had gotten to, or that the hiking crowd even knew existed. 

I’m standing there and the conditions were just perfect.

Favorite places

I have travelled abroad, I have been to other countries, and I’d like to do a lot more of that, but when I talk about favorite places, it’s where I’m living right now in Western North Carolina. The mountains of Western North Carolina, and the waterfalls... gosh I just love it!

Image over your mantle

It's a shot that I took of fireflies, in a jar, set up a few years ago, and I’ve never seen another shot like it, it’s one of those night photography things that I create in my mind before I shoot it.

I had to shoot the jar part of it first and focus on that. Then, when I was shooting the Milky Way layer, as I was exposing, the biggest meteor I have ever seen in my life went right through the perfect spot in the frame.

Advice

The turning point for me was when I realized that it was okay to use my own mind and think for myself, and I would encourage others to do the same. I have noticed that young people already are doing that; they don’t know who John Shaw is, they don't know what the rule of thirds is, they don't know not to center their subjects.

They’re just out there doing their thing, and they are making some really cool photos along the way. Yeah, they’re making some horrible ones too, but so do I.

They are not bound by any sort of rigid rules like old people like me tend to be. Don't let anybody tell you that it has to be done this way, just do what you like, and if you do that eventually you’re going to come upon some course that you can follow.

For more of Kevin's work, see www.kadamsphoto.com

Watch the complete interview in the video at the top.

Look for Kevin's "Best Of" teaching coming to the ALIVE Photo online classroom early June 2016.

In the meantime, we'll send you this free mini-course with landscape photographer David Muench. (Click below)

Bruno D'Amicis - Italian Wildlife Photographer

"When the picture is too strong, you cannot look at it too much. When the picture is too perfect, you forget about it."

Abruzzo is quite well known in Europe, because it’s the last really wild place in Italy.

It’s a good combination, because you can visit the Colosseum in Rome in the morning and then watch a bear in the afternoon, and have an amazing dinner at night in a five hundred year old village.

Invisible signature

What most people come and ask me is, "How do you somehow manage to have an invisible signature to your pictures?"

It doesn’t mean that [the pictures] are better or worse than others, but it means that they are really [mine].

It comes from a very strong inner vision.

It’s surprisingly fed and nurtured by any input you place into your head. It could be music, it could be food, or your favorite football team. 

All your past, all your background, all your daily experiences somehow, if you manage to metabolize them, flow into the way you approach photography.

ALIVE

I was working almost ten years of my life on Apennine chamois. It's a kind of mountain goat which is endemic; it lives only here in the Apennines.

One idea was to photograph them with the moonlight. The chamois were in a line, and I was photographing with the light of distant villages, very distant villages in the back. There came a haze that turned all pink. The wind was moving a cloud that turned completely blue. So, the situation was well beyond my wildest dreams.”

And that picture says it all.

Affect on life

Another time I looked into the forest, and I saw running toward me a wolf pup with the fresh cut head of a deer. This connection of the death and life was really like ecology in one picture. 

In that moment I had a burst; I had a blush on my cheeks, and when I walked back I was crying, really crying, because of this huge emotion.

One of my childhood dreams was to photograph the fennec fox (Sahara Desert).

This picture shows the difficult conditions in which both the animal and the kid live. This kid is trying to sell the fennec fox that he caught in the wild illegally.

This image was a 2014 winner in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

This image was a 2014 winner in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

Advice

When the picture is too strong, you cannot look at it too much. When the picture is too perfect, you forget about it. You have to find a picture that you can read in layers.

Have a strong drive for the subject.

Learn as much as you can about your subject, more than about the camera or the latest thing in Photoshop. The nature part takes ages. Be patient.

Watch the complete interview in the video at the top.

Leave a comment for Bruno below. 

Experience more of his work at BrunoDAmicis.com

According to legendary wildlife photographer Jim Brandenburg, Bruno's latest book "Time for Wolves has been crafted with the delicate eye of an artist, the hand of a seasoned writer and the analytical mind of a scientist."

Enjoy FREE wildlife photography courses here >>> ALIVE Photo <<< in the online classroom.

 

Ian Plant - Dreamscapes

"I sleep, and then there’s photography; that’s about it."

My $100,000 mistake

I bought a Pentax K1000 about twenty years ago. At the time I was in my first year of law school. After I got the camera I realized then that I had just made a huge $100,000 mistake. Not on the camera, mind you, on my legal education.

I was hooked right away, and it very quickly morphed into a hobby. Then, before I knew it, it was a passion, and then once I worked about eight years as a lawyer to pay off my law school debt, it became a career.

Now I just call it a lifestyle. I really can't say that it’s something that I do; it is what I am.

ALIVE

I sleep, and then there’s photography; that’s about it.

There are a lot of times when I’m in the back country, when I’m by myself, and I’m in the wilderness photographing that I really feel alive. I feel connected with the landscape, with nature, with my surroundings, and with my subject matter.

Sharing the experience

I think a lot of people who consume photography are looking for a vicarious experience. They are looking to put themselves in the photographer's shoes.

The picture can bring them a fair portion of the way there, but I think that words can bring them all the way. Words really bring that experience to them.

Visual flow

There are different ways of seeing and explaining how art composition works, but there are no rules.

The rule of thirds is a perfect example. It’s something that I think Kodak basically invented. It’s a nice simplification of other principals, and that’s what makes it so attractive to photographers; it’s easy to use.

You can just look at a scene and mentally divide it into thirds. It’s pretty simple. But there is no magic to it, and it may work every now and then, but it’s not going to work for everything. So, I decided I really wanted to delve deep into the subject and try to uncover some core principles of design, that were informing these rules that people are repeating over and over again, and trying to give people a deeper understanding of what's going on.

>> Visual Flow: Mastering the Art of Composition

Favorite places

In October 2014, I went to Alaska to photograph polar bears. That was incredible. You get out there and you would see as many as 25 or 30 polar bears at a time. It was just amazing.

You get out there on the water, and basically the bears are on this spit of land that sticks out, and the boats can get right up to the bears as they walk along the shore. There was one point I was about ten feet away from a mother and her two cubs, in the boat. It was really incredible being that close to an animal that, if it wanted to, could do a lot of damage to me.

Image over your mantle

One of the images I have [hanging at my house] is one of a mountain gorilla. I photographed the mountain gorilla through a screen of leaves, so I got really close to a bush, and I found a small gap in the leaves. Shooting with wide open aperture and a small telephoto lens, the leaves all blurred out. So I like the image because it’s kind of a mysterious presentation. I wanted to show how mysterious and magical the experience is with these gorillas.

Affect on life

When you put a camera lens in front of your face, when you are creative with exposure and composition, you’re really distorting people’s vision of reality. You’re distorting the real world around you, and you’re showing, hopefully a distortion that’s gonna be artistic and compelling.

To me that is the unique beauty of photography as an art form. It is this ability to take reality and every so slightly twist it to the artist’s whim, and present something that people haven’t seen before.

Advice

Push your boundaries. Don’t just shoot what you want to shoot. 

Personally, I try to shoot things that I normally wouldn’t shoot. Even though I’ve primarily been a landscape and wildlife photographer, I now try to push the boundary and do some street photography and travel photography here and there.

I try things that I haven’t done before, because it’s a really great way just to practice your creativity, to hone your creative vision. So I tell people, "Just get behind the camera as much as possible." Whenever you have free time, fuel your passion for photography. Get out there and shoot.

Leave a comment for Ian below. For more of Ian Plant, see IanPlant.com

Watch the complete interview in the video at the top.