First up Glann isn’t a “Pro” but when has that stopped me from getting someone who I believe to have amazing talent on RAW? Never! I came across Glenn on 500px and his photos immediately stood out from the pack so I new I had to hear more about him. I hope you enjoy this one and that it provides you with a source of inspiration.
Tell us a little about yourself?
My background is in finance. I graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Accountancy. For the next twenty years, I worked as a financial analyst for a large Fortune 500 company. For the past ten years, I’ve been semi-retired. As time goes by, I spend less time working on financial matters and far more time pursuing my other interests—which include coaching youth sports, golfing, and of course, photography!
What made you get into photography?
Since I was very young, I’ve been fascinated by how photography can freeze a moment in time and preserve a memory. I remember taking my very first picture while visiting Wrigley Field in Chicago when I was just eight years old. It was thrilling to capture a black & white photo of one of my baseball heroes, Ernie Banks, despite taking that picture from the upper deck of the stadium with a $20 camera. I’m also amazed at how photography lets us see things in new ways—especially through long time exposures and freezing action. But, the thing that I enjoy most about photography is how it motivates me to take a closer look and to find the beauty in things around me. One summer, I challenged myself to limit my photography to locations within just a few miles of my house in the Chicago suburbs. I discovered that so many incredible photo opportunities existed where I lived. I learned about locations in town that I never even knew existed. Another year, I attempted to capture at least one quality photograph for each day of the year. This exercise also motivated me to view the ordinary things around me in a whole new way.
How did you get started?
I purchased my first SLR camera, a Canon AE-1, while in high school. It was an innovative camera at the time—with autofocus! For many years, I captured images of family and friends with that camera. But, what I enjoyed most was photographing landscapes in the national parks across the United States and Canada. I visited every national park in the United States west of the Mississippi River! However, I started to think I needed to discover spectacular scenery to create good pictures. And, hen I came across a spectacular scene, I would wait for the perfect light or the perfect moment. Often times, those perfect moments never came—and I would leave discouraged that I was unable to capture a single image! I became so discouraged that I stopped taking photographs for nearly a decade.
My interest in photography was reignited with digital. I loved the instant feedback that digital provided and how that helped me improve my photography. The power of post processing was very exciting. I became more interested in photography than ever before—and started allocating more time to learning more about it. I found myself visiting photography internet forums on a daily basis, subscribing to photography magazines, reading endless photography books, and attending workshops and seminars. Since I was basically self-taught, I also completed the New York Institute’s “Complete Course in Professional Photography” to introduce some formal training.
Digital made it possible for me to share images more easily. I post photos in forms for critique—which accelerates my learning curve. It’s easier than ever to share images with family and friends. This ability to share, and the resulting feedback, provides more incentive to strive for better images. A photograph taken at a local farm in Illinois is viewed by others around the world later that day! People from every continent in the world, except Antarctica, have taken time to browse through my images. I’m anxiously awaiting for my first visitor from Antarctica!
In the end, I learned that it is possible to create compelling images from practically anywhere. The key is developing my vision to see the opportunities that exist right in front of my eyes! I now understand that it is possible to create images from my backyard that are just as interesting as those captured from my tour of Alaska many years ago.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
I like to shoot practically any subject. One of the slogans I use is that “If it looks good, shoot it!” Each year, I challenge myself to create a photography book with my favorite images from seven categories: landscapes, architecture, plants, animals, people, sports and abstracts. As the year progresses, I might find myself going out to capture more architectural images if I’m light in that area. Landscapes are probably my favorite subject to photograph.
What gear are you using?
I’m using Nikon gear now. Once I sold my Canon AE-1, I purchased a Nikon camera. Once I gathered a collection of Nikon lenses and flash units, there was no going back. I currently shoot with a Nikon D700 most of the time. I use a Nikon D300 when the situation calls for more reach.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
I’m very fortunate to own Nikon lenses that cover focal lengths from 14mm to 500mm. If I had to select just one lens it would be the Nikon 300 2.8 VR. I love how the lens allows me to isolate subjects. I sometimes refer to it as the “background eraser.” The image quality never ceases to amaze me. It focuses extremely fast. I’ve used the 300 2.8 for a wide variety of subject—sports, portraits, animals and compressed landscapes. I’ve even used it to capture butterflies!
How are you marketing yourself?
I like to share my images with as many people as possible, so I am active in internet forums where I reference my photos. I distribute business cards to people while out shooting. And, word of mouth helps generate more traffic to my website. I try very hard to keep photography as a fun activity for me. I enjoy having the freedom to shoot only those subjects that I find to be interesting. I find myself turning down most offers to do photo shoots. My approach was to choose a profession other than photography that would allow me to keep photography as a hobby. Although photography is not my main source of income, it generates revenue through sales of prints through my website and sales of digital images through stock agencies.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
This image of this miniature dachshund in flight is probably my favorite image to date. After practicing taking images of birds in flight, I decided to try the same approach with this dog. My favorite lens, the 300 2.8, allowed me to focus quickly enough while isolating the dog against a soft background. Based upon visitor comments and web page visits, this image is the most popular one in my portfolio. Hallmark recently sold thousands of birthday cards using this image!
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
As a business person, I understand that in order to be successful, operating a good business is at least as important as the quality of the photographs. Of course, creative vision and technical competency are critical. But, there are many people out there who are technically competent and have a creative vision. It’s the other side of the business that will often times make the difference—budgeting, marketing, customer relations, etc. I recently attended a workshop coordinated by nature photographer, Moose Peterson—and I was impressed with his ability to manage a business and create his own brand image. He also works very hard at his profession. For me, I decided to earn my living in finance. I’ve always wanted to keep photography as my hobby…to keep it fun…and to have the freedom to shoot only those subjects that interest me.