First things first Miles is not a pro photographer. I contacted him after seeing his images on 500px and he openly admitted that he wasn’t a pro photographer however his work was so good that I figured he must have some useful knowledge to pass on. So have a read check out his photos and hopefully you’ll get some inspiration.
Tell us a little about yourself?
Every now and then I like to play landscape photographer, but really I’m just a hobbyist. I’m a Captain at a major airline in the United States which keeps me busier than I like. Luckily, only 23 years, 9 months, 8 days, 6 hours, 23 minutes, and 42 seconds until retirement, give or take a little bit.
What made you get into photography?
My father had a long career as a professional free lance photojournalist. I still marvel at his creativity. Being surrounded by cameras ensured that I had little interest in them growing up, a suspicion that was confirmed by taking a photography course in high school.
How did you get started?
A couple of years ago, I was looking for something to distract me from the time suck of boring aviation forums, and came across some landscape images. After a little more research, I signed up for a workshop in the Portland area, and quickly became hooked. The biggest break I’ve had in photography is meeting a couple of extremely talented shooters who have been immensely generous with their time. One in particular, Ryan Dyar, has become a close and treasured friend. His vision absolutely amazes me, as I have not yet really developed my creative eye. I enjoy post processing almost as much as the actual photography, and spend hours working on images trying to make something artistic. It’s a good outlet for the creatively challenged.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
Landscapes. Occasionally I’ll take a few images of my lens cap by accident, which I guess you could call “abstract”. I’m always amazed how rich the blacks are when you leave the cap on. I have deep respect for those of you who shoot people. I tried it once. It started out with me asking my subject what he was planning on doing. He asked me what I thought he should do. We blinked at each other for awhile, and then I accidentally flashed a strobe in my face, which pretty much ended the session.
What gear are you using?
I’ve got Canon gear. The standard kit 5D Mark II, 16-35II, 24-105, and 70-200. I lust after the Nikon D3S for its stunning noise free capability at high ISO.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
Far and away the Canon 16-35L II. There is a bit of a cult following for the Nikon 14-24 with a Canon mount among the Landscape pro’s, but I’m not good enough for it to matter. The 16-35 creates an OUTSTANDING sunburst (something I love to play with), is fast at f2.8 which is handy for star images, and can handle filters without having to build some custom adaptor.
How are you marketing yourself?
I’m really not. I have a website, and post images on 500px and 1x, but that’s about it. I will occasionally get contacted by someone who wants to buy a print or a magazine interested in licensing an image, but I don’t actively pursue it. I enjoy entering photo contests from time to time, but most of my images are a blend of exposures and quite heavily photos-hopped, which eliminates me from entering most of the typical major landscape contests.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
I’d probably have to say this one: It’s not my most popular image, and it isn’t compositionally terribly good, but at the time of shooting it, I was distracted by the smell of my tripod and shoes melting. I could also literally feel my skin burning and couldn’t face the camera for too long due to the heat. The rock I was standing on had been molten lava about 5 minutes before. The reason I really enjoy this shot is it reminds me of one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had, shooting the newest land on earth being created in Hawaii.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
I have quite a few friends who are making a go of professional landscape photography. It’s a tough, tough, competitive business, as many established pro’s are unbelievably talented. I think it’s a combination of things that makes the best successful. First, you have to put in the time both out shooting, and on the business end. There are pro’s that spend up to 300 days a year in the field. I also notice that the successful pros are very good at selling themselves because they believe in their work. If it were something I was looking to do full time, I would explore every possible revenue source: teaching workshops, writing eBooks and processing videos to sell, magazine columns, a few art shows, some stock images, etc. etc. It’s a tough business, but with a tenacious attitude, a good mentor, and a good eye, I think it can be done. Just not by me. 🙂