I am a nature photographer. The implication being that the bulk of my work concentrates on documenting and working with the natural world around me. Now one can make the claim that human beings are very much a natural part of the environment. But over time, our uniqueness as a species and our unique way of life has created a strong distinction between ourselves and the natural world which we inhabit (and so often destroy in the process). My work as a professional photographer means that I usually find myself far from civilization and in rather remote locations, working with subjects that are either natural landscapes or wildlife. Once in a while, I get the opportunity to visit places that are very much the embodiment of human society and history like the Mayan Pyramids in the Yucatan, ancient Greek cities in Greece, or Roman ruins in Turkey.
One of the things I find fascinating about photography is that it can be approached from a million directions and can mean a million different things to different people. I enjoy talking to other photographers a lot – I find it very interesting to learn what they personally see in this art and what they shoot for (pun intended) with their images. I have a friend who takes photos of kids and families; she has perfected her portrait techniques over many years. I know another photographer whose work you will never see – odd as that may sound, I get it: it is private, it is the imprint of his heart and soul, he prefers to share his art with his immediate circle only.
Over the last three years, I have been photographing cities with an IR-converted Nikon D80 DSLR while traveling on business trips. I am very fortunate that my job duties involve the administration of international projects, so I travel once or twice per month, mostly in Central Europe, but also in Western and Eastern Europe. Whenever I travel, I try to plan at least a very short window for photographing, even if it is sometimes only 1-2 hours long. In this article, I share some insights after photographing with an IR camera for almost 3 years in roughly 20 European cities.
The name Henri Cartier-Bresson does not immediately remind most people of landscape photography. It shouldn’t; he wasn’t a landscape photographer! Instead, of course, Henri Cartier-Bresson was a street photographer — arguably the founding father of the genre. However, although he rarely took photos of nature, his intimate approach to street photography still has value to people who prefer the company of grand landscapes. One technique is especially worth learning, no matter what genre of photography you do: the decisive moment.
Valerie Jardin is not only an accomplished street photographer, but also a podcaster, teacher, speaker and writer. Originally from France, Valerie currently lives in the United States. Valerie’s international workshops and speaking engagements often sell out over a year in advance. This is why I feel so lucky to have been able to attend one of her workshops this August in Vancouver, Canada.
Or at least a longer focal length than conventional wisdom suggests. I’m always reading that so-called street photography is best undertaken with a prime lens within the 35mm to 50mm range and I understand the merits of this range for reasons I will elaborate on further down. But convention is naturally a gauntlet that Alpha Whiskey cannot ignore. So before meeting my date I decided to kill an hour in town the other night shooting with a telephoto zoom and mostly at the maximum focal length (210mm: 420mm equivalent field of view).
For the past few weeks the United Kingdom has been undergoing a period of turbulent, momentous and mesmerising political events. Rest assured I have no intention of discussing politics here; this site is not for that. But there are decades when nothing much happens for weeks on end and then suddenly a week when a decade’s worth of events thunders down in a blurry, breakneck deluge. Instead of trying to keep up with the speed of our evolving future I felt like taking a moment to revisit the past and seek contemplation and reflection in the company of some of the architects of our history (you can tell I’m a simple guy).
I am sad to say that the world of photography lost one of its true masters this past Sunday. Chinese photographer Fan Ho, known for his intimate street photographs of 1950’s Hong Kong, died of pneumonia at the age of 84. His photographs are more than simply beautiful; they show an understanding of light and composition is truly unparalleled. I cannot write anything that does justice to work like this, so I will leave with one of Fan Ho’s quotes – among the most beautiful sentiments I have heard from a photographer: “I put my whole life into a single photograph.”
From time to time I like to go out for a walk with a camera and create a small challenge for myself. This morning it was walking a few blocks up one side of a city street, then down the opposite side, while capturing a few images along the way. Unlike many photographers I never take images of people when I am out on a street walk as I am much more fascinated by what people create…and tend to leave behind as a legacy.
I’ve written before about making the familiar unfamiliar with a view to creating a more original image or a different take on something. An important element of making an image more interesting than a mere capture can be to reveal a story or intrigue within it. In a world awash with random snaps and selfies it can be a challenge to find images that hold our attention.