A Travel Photographer or A Photographer Who Travels


I’ve been watching David (the Strobist) Hobby‘s video series ‘The Traveling Photographer‘ on lynda.com over the last few weeks. I’d resisted lynda.com for a very long time for no reason that I can put my finger but given the number of courses available (check out David Hobby’s other courses here) that I wanted to check out I finally took the plunge.

Watching David Hobby’s series I had a couple of thoughts. First I hadn’t put him in the travel photography camp, perhaps I should have?, and second I had a visceral reaction to the thought of ‘travel photography’ as a genre. It was an odd reaction and perhaps I was thinking largely of the cheesy postcard photos that are used to advertise high-end vacation spots, photographs that do little for me.

I’ve been traveling a good bit this year and while I wouldn’t put myself in the travel photography camp, it’s clear to me that I’m a photographer that travels. This was brought home to me when I mentioned to a friend that I was heading out to iceland and they commented on the potential for great photography. While this is true, some might argue that Iceland as a photo tour destination is now somewhat a cliche, what I’ve increasingly found is that regardless of where I go I end up taking photographs that in essence I could have taken anywhere. I’m drawn to particular things, water in the landscape, rocks, intimate landscapes and abstract details. I’m compelled to take photographs of these things, to the exclusion of perhaps more obvious grand vistas. I find that I even like particular colors or combinations of colors and will be more attuned to potential photographs with those colors than others.

Travel for me broadens the range of opportunities to find combinations of the things that I’m interested in that I haven’t seen before. What are the reasons you travel?

Friday Inspiration: Joey L.

I recently came across a solid recommendation for Joey L.’s new book Photographing Shadow and Light: Inside the Dramatic Lighting Techniques and Creative Vision of Portrait Photographer Joey L. and decided to give Joey a second chance after writing him off based on his performance at the GPP 2010 photo shoot out. Check that out here.

I must say that I was glad that I did. His book covers both his personal and commercial work and gives what seems to me to be a pretty decent look behind the scenes at how he approaches shooting. Much more interesting to me were the videos that Cale Glendening produced of some of Joey’s trips to make the personal work. I was impressed with the time that Joey puts in to get to know his subjects and his willingness to go the extra mile to break down barriers and build relationships. Well worth a look. Look out for Cale getting a traditional Mentawai tattoo. Check out the videos below.

A Visit from the Masters of Light

I was lucky enough to attend the flashbus boston stop recently. An amazing flash extravaganza, starting slowly with David ‘The Strobist’ Hobby and building to a crescendo with a live demo in the afternoon from the Dean of Flash Joe McNally.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect or for that matter why I was even going – I rarely take photos of ‘people’ and when I do I’m not fluent enough with flashes to incorporate them into the mix. I’ve actually given presentations in the Long Wharf Marriott conference rooms but to a crowd smaller than the 250+ that were there to see Hobby and McNally perform. It was fun to have an opportunity to interact with Hobby before the event began – he worked the line of photographers laden down with all the gear they own as they waited to get the Adorama event band and associated goodie bag.

Hobby’s presentation was a walk through of a series of images to show how he builds ‘Layers of Light’ to get the look that he wants for a particular photo. I must admit that it actually made sense and seemed quite a logical approach to getting the photo.

I’d seen McNally up close a while ago now at the Acadia DLWS in 2007 that was just before the moment it clicks came out and his star as an educator began to rise.  Then he did a couple of on location small flash lighting demos that were quite impressive. In the Marriott ballroom he started quite simply with one light building to a finale photographing Bruce (an audience member) with 4 lights including a gridded snoot for Bruce’s impressive beard.

The day really was a firehose of information and someone more practical than I would probably be able to put it to good use. I feel like I need some further study. Fortunately both Hobby and McNally have supporting DVDs.  I have McNally’s and certainly recommend it (check out a clip here) and I suspect that Hobby’s 7 disc set would be well worth the money.

I think Zack Arias‘s one lighting workshops are also worth checking out. There are a couple of places to get these – the live workshop, the One Light DVD, and the CreativeLive workshop. Zack starts more basic than Hobby and his teaching style resonates with me more than Hobby and McNally. For me the progression should be Arias, Hobby, McNally although they all have something to offer for everyone.