Travel photography is something that most people would love todo. Getting paid to travel the world photographing what you see sounds amazing. Unfortunately it isn’t the easy to get into. Paul provides a good insight into his work and life. Enjoy. I put up two of his profile pics because one is sensible and the other is just cool 🙂
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m just a Pennsylvania farmboy who’s wandered a long way from home.
What made you get into photography?
I blame a lot of it on my grandmother. Somehow she managed to get by on a nurse’s salary while taking vacation trips around the world when I was a kid. It was a big production when she showed us slide shows of all these magical places. The lights went down, the portable screen went up and she showed tray after tray of Kodachrome slides shot with her Nikkormat. I coveted that camera for my entire childhood, and was not above ‘borrowing’ it to shoot pictures for my high school newspaper.
How did you get started?
I was the dorky kid running around taking pictures all through high school for the newspaper and yearbook. I went off to the University of Maryland and eventually landed a job at a small town newspaper. I had dreams of journalistic glory, but most of it was pretty mundane stuff. Portraits, high school sports and whatever minor mayhem passed for local news. I stayed in journalism for ten years, winding up on the staff of the excellent Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. It was there that I first saw true wild lands and wild animals for the first time, and I fell in love with it. I left my nice, safe staff job to pursue a freelance career, and have been able to make a living for the last 15 years as a stock shooter.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
I concentrate on travel photography, which to me means that I travel around to places that interest me, and shoot what looks cool. Coming from that newspaper background, I learned to shoot a lot of different subjects. So now I might photograph anything from architecture in Dubai to street scenes in Shanghai to lions hunting in the Serengeti.
What gear are you using?
I shoot almost exclusively with Canon digital SLR’s and glass. I love my 1D IV for the speed when photographing action and have gotten pretty good at hand-holding a 500mm lens in a bobbing boat to photograph polar bears on the move. I’ve been known to drag along an old Holga plastic camera or bashed up Hasselblad if I’m feeling cantankerous.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
I have long loved my 45mm tilt-shift lens. It’s an old manual focus lens that allows me to clean up the converging lines in my compositions. I know you can do it in Photoshop, but I’m old school. It’s like shooting with a 50 “normal” lens but I like the challenge and feel of it. I don’t actually get to use it as much as I might want, since my last few shoots have been with polar and grizzly bears. That usually calls for something a little longer.
How are you marketing yourself?
Poorly. I do have a website and blog, but I’ve allowed my marketing efforts to flag over the last few years. I was very, very happy all those when my stock agencies did the marketing for me. I was just over in London for the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and was asked by several editors “Why don’t we know you?”
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
I’m really proud of the image I made of coastal brown bears swimming after spawning salmon in Alaska. I imagined the picture in my head a year before I was able to make it happen, and it’s a pretty rare shot. I spent four days sitting along a salmon stream along the remote Katmai coast in Alaska, waiting for bears to swim past my remote camera.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
It’s a great hobby and a wonderful way to explore the world, but there are an awful lot easier ways to make a living. You should only go down this road if it’s the only thing that you can imagine yourself doing. The profession will take everything you have to give, and then some.
Visit Paul Souders – website