I discovered David’s amazing landscape photography on a new sharing site i’ve been trying out called 500px. Not being able to shoot landscape myself I was instantly amazed at the colours the David was able to bring out. Have a read and check out his supplied pics you’ll know what I mean.
Tell us a little about yourself?
Where do I start? Well, by day, I am a 23 year-old international business student living in Dresden, Germany and by night… you guessed it, I am still that 23 year-old but with a slight landscape photography addiction. I am completely self-taught and started getting serious about 3 years or so ago.
Other than that, I would consider myself a pretty regular guy who is totally awesome and funny and yet so humble to admit that this was a lie, well, part of it at least. I could not function without caffeine and a regular Thai food fix.
I grew up in a rather remote area and spending time outside and connecting with the elements has always been one of my favorite things, thus, I like hiking and camping quite a bit but if anyone wants to send me off to a faraway island luxury resort, I will be the last one to say I can’t do this. Please email me at… just kidding! No, really!
What made you get into photography?
I have always been interested in photography and many kinds of art, graphic and web design but the real reason is kind of an awkward thing for a guy to talk about… flowers. It all started some years ago with a trip to Florida to bridge a gap in my education and for some weird reason I wanted to get into growing plumeria. To document my success or failure, I picked up my first DSLR. Plumeria, for all non-gardeners out there are the kind of flowers they make leis from and you are greeted with when touching ground on Hawaii.
Anyway, while I still grow plumeria, photography took over much of my spare time and I like the fact that I can do something fruitful and turn things I always liked, which is spending time in nature, into memories of 0’s and 1’s that will last forever. If I can share those with people who are equally passionate about it and appreciate my efforts, even better and humbling.
How did you get started?
Growing plumeria in my climate is not easy and chances are flowers are rare in between, so I needed to bridge those gaps between flower cycles and on the occasional hike, I happened to take the camera, came back and shared my images with friends who said I should pursue this. Shortly after, I joined an online photo community to share my images with a broader audience and saw a continuing improvement in my work. Basically, I took it from there and now plan trips according to bad weather rather than good to be out in the field when hell breaks lose and will eventually reveal that second of magic light.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
It might have subtly come through yet, but I mainly shoot landscapes, which includes everything from snow-capped peaks and alpine meadows to beaches, deserts, waterfalls and anything in between offered by our planet. Occasionally, I shoot cityscapes and dabble into high-key food photography as creative outlet and to get away from the strenuous life of a landscape photographer.
What gear are you using?
The most important tools for creative landscape photography lie outside of camera bodies and lenses. Even though those are important, they are just tools. I doubt they ever asked Van Gogh which brush he used. Anyhow, I prefer white lenses with red rather than black lenses with golden markings. 😉 Speaking of tools however… graduated neutral density filters, circular polarizers and variable ND filters are amongst the most important gear, along with a sturdy tripod. Even with the most advanced Photoshop wizardry, you can’t fix an overexposed sky or a blurry aspect of a photo.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
Crop sensor: Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 – sharp, built like a tank, wide, produces wonderful star effects with its 9 aperture blades and generally handles very well.
Full frame: Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L II – same as above applies, except the Canon has 7 aperture blades, the sunstar is even crisper and weather sealing is top-notch.
How are you marketing yourself?
I try to engage in active communication among the different networks such as Flickr, DeviantArt or recently 500px. My Facebook page gets several updates a week. I try to keep up a blog where I post stories behind images and their making and recently published my first tutorial, of which I hope to add more in the future, but blogging proves to be time-consuming so I haven’t updated the blog as much as I liked.
I operate a website which I designed and hand-coded myself and is currently in a re-design process which will ease up buying traditional prints and canvases by adding a fully featured shopping cart system and other major UI tweaks. On top of that, I share every image and information I find particularly useful and of interest to others on Twitter which is likely the place where people get to know most about myself and my interests, with a more subtle shameless self-promotion.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
Wow, that’s a tough one. I imagine this must be what a mother feels like when asked which of her kids she likes most. Anyhow, I narrowed it down to three with the hope I am not marked as a photo whore at my relatively young age. (See, told ya I was fun.)
The images I selected are not particularly my most popular but represent special moments in my life that I was fortunate to share with great friends that I owe so much.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
Don’t do it. (Honestly, I don’t need more people sharing the market.) Kidding!
It’s not half the fun with the pressure of creating new images. Never lose your faith and the joy of taking the image. Think outside the box. Okay, those phrases are shared on the web by the million.
It’s a rough business. There is a market for nearly every kind of photography, yet finding the fitting niche is the key to becoming successful, which I don’t claim to be. (See, humble.) The photography market is saturated, especially in the landscape sector. To really stand out from the crowd, you need to engage in new ways to understand photography and technology, marketing and push yourself to be different. Landscapes only change every so often, so you have to work with the right light, get out in the wee hours of the morning and stay out longer than the rest, embrace dramatic conditions and push yourself to find new spots and compositions of landmarks shot to death by the thousands of other people who had the same idea, yet stay safe and out of trouble.
Well, in a nutshell, I think those people on the web are right.
If I were to start again, I’d probably take a workshop instead of figuring out everything on my own. Even though this progress was fun and probably put me there with more understanding of aperture, ISO and shutter speed and its relations and limitations than I actually need to know for my field of photography, a photography workshop can really make the difference for people just starting out. I worked with the awesome folks of Aperture Academy (http://www.apertureacademy.com) before and can recommend their services without the slightest hesitation. They offer multi-day in-field workshops in fabulous locations such as Yosemite, Grand Canyon and the Oregon coast (amongst many others), local portrait, sports and post processing classes. Small student to instructor ratios ensure plenty of one-on-one time to get the most out of the workshop. Highly recommended.