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Filtering by Category: photography

Romance Your Wild — Jay McDonald

Ben Ashby

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A PREVIEW FROM FOLK’S SUMMER 2019 ISSUE. CLICH HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY.

Jay McDonald brings a quality to adventure and photography that is met with equal amounts of humble humor and top notch skills. Known for his portraits in nature and his crystal clear landscapes he has stolen our hearts with his love of the wild.



Why do you adventure? Well, to be honest I have severe ADHD and I can’t stand being in one place for a long period of time. I wish I had a more poetic and whimsical answer for you but that’s the real life truth right there haha.

Why do you explore? I think deep down inside of every one of us there is always  that little curious spark. We were built to get up, go further, run faster, etc.. And simply because it’s 2018, a lot of people have settled. I just can’t be one of those people. The nomadic life is long gone, but there’s still a little bit of nomad left in each one of us.

Why take risks in life? Life is too short not to. My older brother Kylan killed himself when I was 16 years old. That same summer, my life long very best friend’s Dad did the same. Prior to that, my Uncle (and more.. the list goes on but I think you get the point). It feels like I have been surrounded by sudden death from mental health and other things my whole life. I value fulfillment, happiness, joy, adventure and love over anything else. The statistics that you and I should both not be alive right now are too high not to do something crazy and live a little. As cliche as it is for me to say this, you have to “Romance Your Wild”, because today might be your last chance. 

What is your 9-5? I am a full time commercial photographer (yes not everything I shoot looks like my Instagram)... I had pursued a promising career in exotic dancing but apparently “Chip and Whales” wasn’t very marketable and I wasn’t willing decrease my carbs or fat load. If I am going to bring home the bacon, I am gonna eat it too.

READ THE FULL STORY IN OUR SUMMER 2019 ISSUE. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.

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Carpe Noctem // Evan Pollock

Zachary Kilgas

Carpe noctem. Sieze the night. This series by Evan Pollock shows nighttime as it should be seen.

A Look at Chernobyl // Barbara Arcuschin

Zachary Kilgas

Photographer Barbara Arcuschin submitted these eerie photos of Chernobyl.

It’s been over 32 years since the catastrophe, and less than 10 since the site was opened for tourism. The area surrounding the former power plant won’t be safe for human habitation for the next 20,000 years.

“Chernobyl is like the war of all wars. There’s nowhere to hide. Not underground, not underwater, not in the air.” 
― Svetlana Alexievich, Voices from Chernobyl

Photographer of the Day // Mike Kelley

Zachary Kilgas

From the first glance, each of his photos are extremely inviting. So inviting, that I almost felt like a firsthand witness. My brain invented sounds, smells, and sensations immediately-- the bears' snarls, the salty sea air hitting my nose, bare toes on a wooden dock. 

Click through for an adventure. 

Photographer Update // Joshua Fuller

Zachary Kilgas

I have always loved idioms. If you're unfamiliar with them, idioms are seemingly nonsensical phrases that by usage became loaded with meaning-- kill two birds with one stone, once in a blue moon, pot calling the kettle black. 

There's an Icelandic idiom, "Það eru margar undur í höfuðkúpu," which translates roughly to "there are many wonders in a cow's head." To my understanding, it's a way to say that the world is crazy. 

These landscape photos from Joshua Fuller's trip to Iceland had me pondering the wonders in a cow's head. 

Photographer of the Day: Nick Cagol

Zachary Kilgas

Thirty year old, Nick Cagol is a part time photographer who lives in Northern Italy. His goal is to capture more than just the beauty of a landscape, he aims to capture a story. More of his photography can be seen on Instagram @alchenick

Alex and the Boy with Flowers

Ben Ashby

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Photographer Alex McDonald has shared dozens of photo essays with us over the years. This one was a few years ago and remains one of our favorites. 

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Fujifilm’s X-E2S in Tribeca || A Review

Ben Ashby

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Over the past month we asked Tribeca based photographer Ethan Barber to play around with the Fujifilm X-E2S and give us his thoughts about the camera and its ability to take shots around the city. We wanted to see how a mid level camera could handle content production and would aid in production with its easy to use interface and built in wifi. 

 


Over the course of the last month, I’ve had the opportunity to try the Fujifilm X-E2S. As a full-time graphic designer who commutes into Tribeca each day from northern New Jersey; portability is one of the most important factors in a camera for me. Having a small bag, space quickly fills up with my laptop, snacks, and assorted winter gear. My old DSLR was bulky and heavy, but I lugged it around because the quality of photos I was able to capture with it were worth it. Switching over to this Fuji, I was able to capture photos with the same quality and depth as my DSLR, but with the lightweight feel and smaller body that this mirrorless camera packs. Despite its deceivingly small size, it easily compares to much more expensive and larger cameras currently on the market.

 

This camera is perfect for:

  1. Entry-level photographers
  2. Photographers who need to save on space.
  3. Small weekend trips and quick portraits.
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Historic Staple Street Skybridge | Tribeca || FujiFilm XE2S

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Duane Street | Tribeca || FujiFilm XE2S

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Greenwich Street | Tribeca || FujiFilm XE2S

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The Corner of Crosby and Broome | Soho || FujiFilm XE2S

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Building entryway on West Broadway | Tribeca|| FujiFilm XE2S

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The intersection of Broadway and Howard | Soho || FujiFilm XE2S

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Church Street | Tribeca || FujiFilm XE2S

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West Broadway | Tribeca || FujiFilm XE2S

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Church Street | Tribeca || FujiFilm XE2S

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Historic Staple Street Skybridge | Tribeca || FujiFilm XE2S

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Corner of Howard and Crosby | Soho || FujiFilm XE2S

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Corner of Howard and Crosby | Soho || FujiFilm XE2S

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Lower Manhattan skyline | Hoboken, NJ || FujiFilm XE2S

Special thanks to Ethan Barber for reviewing this camera. See more of his work:

INSTAGRAM || WEBSITE

To Check out the camera CLICK HERE

Where do I Want to Adventure to Next? || Luke Gottlieb

Ben Ashby

Where do I Want to Adventure to Next?

Meet Photographer Luke Gottlieb

 

Luke Gottlieb, the photographer behind Victor of Valencia on Instagram has been one of my very favorite photographers for a very long time. I dream of the day when I have the photographer skills and editing skills he has so brilliantly mastered. I wanted to learn more, so I made my way out to Colorado to learn Luke's backstory and life advice. 


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"Adventure is one of those things that keeps life interesting and completely fresh with experiences. It’s certainly the driving force behind most of my passions in life. It’s something I think about every morning I wake up too; where do I want to adventure to next?"

 — @victorofvalencia

 

Why do you explore? To me, exploration allows the unexpected to come to the surface of our lives. Without exploration, we never learn or see anything new. I also have this constant feeling of wanting to know what exists around the corner. As a child, it seems your whole existence is all about exploring and being curious. I think that we cary some of that same drive throughout our lives as we get older. 

 

Why take risks in life? Without risks, growth is absent. To me, evolving as a human being and having a better understanding of the world can’t happen unless you take risks or unless you really step out of your comfort zone. 

 

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Where are you from? I grew up in a small mountain town in Colorado called Carbondale. It’s an outdoor hub surrounded by old ranch lands, rivers, forests and mountains. It’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. 

 

What is your 9-5?  I was never one to resonate very well with a 9-5 job. I’ve worked for myself the last 3 years and I can say it’s the best fit for me right now. I’m a full-time photographer. It’s amazing, but certainly has the challenges that comes with it. I often can’t remember what day it is, but maybe that is the point of it all… to just live life and experience every day as a new and exciting adventure. 

 

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When you were growing up what or who did you want to be? My dad was a musician and my mom was a music lover as well. I think when I picked up the guitar at the age of 12 I fantasized about being a rock star… as a lot of teenage boys do. I still play music, it’s in my blood and will be till the day I die. I record and do the occasional tour with my band. I don’t think I ever really had a firm grasp on what I wanted to really be in life, but I think that I have found my lane as a portrait and lifestyle photographer. 

 

 

 

Favorite place you've visited? There have been a lot of profound experiences in my life. Traveling has always been a part of them. I think that my experience in Israel was amazing. It had a lot of impact on me. The history is stark and complex, but the culture and people are beautiful. 

 

 

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Place you most desperately want to visit? I have always wanted to post up in a bungalow on the beach in a place like Fiji or Tahiti. I have had a fascination with surf/island culture since I was really young. So much of my family is from southern California, so the ocean has always captured my heart and soul in a lot of ways.

 


What is the single greatest moment of human humanity you've experienced while traveling? I’m going to circle back to my experience in Israel and say that it’s the greatest moment of humanity has been seeing and feeling the resiliency of that place. It’s a powerful area, with religion, history and humanity all wrapped up into a complex web. Germany was another really powerful experience. Seeing the concentration camps in person floored me. It’s wild thinking about the past while standing on the very ground it all those terrible events took place. 

 

 

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What has changed about you because of your travels? For me, traveling has expanded my view of the world. From that I feel I have become much more humble and modest. Maybe sometimes to a fault, but there are just so many amazing people and places in this world that it has forced me to be much more selfless and inspired as well. 

 

Who is the most dynamic and thought provoking person you've ever met? I think a lot about this actually, who has been the most thought provoking person I have encountered. My dad would definitely be that person. We have had challenging and deep conversations my whole life and he certainly has encouraged me to think of the world in various different ways. 

 

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If you could travel with one person in history or in present who would it be and why? I think I would have to say Edward Abbey. To some, he was an extremist in his views of the environment, but his passion for it and his love for nature is something I have resonated with throughout my life. His heart is in the southwestern desert as much of mine is as well. He is a deep thinker and adventurer and to see the world with him would be incredibly fascinating. 

 

What are your must haves for travel? Pack lite, don’t plan too much and say YES. I have been more of a YES person as I have gotten older and what not a better time to say YES then being far away from home. 

 

Give us a travel tip: In college, I did my senior internship in the Bahamas. I was part of a research team traveling around the islands and documenting the state of coral bleaching that was taking over the vast reefs surrounding the islands. It was pretty eye opening swimming around with the sea life and seeing the extent in which the reefs were dying. In the grand scheme of things it is a small and tiny area, but it was a direct way to become more aware to the state of our planet. 

 

 

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What would you say to someone who has never travelled before? 

I think that if we could learn more about each other and be open to new ways of looking at the world it would allow us all to improve as humans. There is just so much diversity on this planet both in body and mind to think selfishly.

 

I would definitely not preach to them that traveling is necessary, but I would encourage them to reach outside of their comfort zone. To me, that is the largest hurdle for someone who has never traveled. Things come easy here (your native country), it is what we know best, but, to insert yourself into a country where your native language isn’t spoken as the first language is awesome. It makes you very self aware. 

 

What is the single greatest lesson you've learned from someone that is different than you? This goes back to the diversity answer, but I think it has taught me more about being a humble human being. When you really focus on the idea that everyone experiences this life in their own individual way it makes you more self aware and accepting of others. 

 

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When did you feel you were most out of your comfort zone. What did you learn from that lesson? I can't think of a particular moment where I felt super out of my comfort zone. I feel that traveling in general always has moments where you feel that. It's easy to feel overwhelmed or unsure of how to do something when you are in those situations. I think a lot of people can relate to that. I typically just take a step back and know that I will be ok and that I can figure it out. It goes back to our primal problem solving skills. You just kind of get through it! That is the biggest lesson, to trust you will be ok and that being uncomfortable is quite normal for a lot of people. You just have to take some breaths. 

 

What would you say to your former self? I would probably tell myself to take the money I would spend on meaningless things and put it towards International plane tickets.  

 

What gives you hope? Meeting genuinely nice people who care about others and our planet gives me the most hope. Seeing people really connected with their place, wether that is culture or environment is a beautiful thing and makes me feel encouraged that that will be passed on to the younger generations to come. To all the people dedicating their lives to sustainable farming, you may give me the most hope.

 

Where to next? As I have gotten older I have an ever increasing itch to see more of the world. I’m a sucker for cinema and connecting to storytelling. I want to see all these places that just have existed on paper or on the big screen. This fascination I have with period pieces and historical storytelling makes me want to be inserted into the places they exist. 

 

Is flannel always in season? I grew up in the mountains, so flannel will forever be a staple piece in my closet and truck. I probably wear flannel every 5 out of 7 days. It’s the best! 

 

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Risks Lead to Lessons | Adventure with Yoni Gill

Ben Ashby

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YONI GILL

RISKS LEAD TO LESSONS

 

Paige first introduced me to Yoni a couple of years ago as we were driving across the US. Yoni, a recent college graduate was still in school in Nebraska. He met up with out group and took us to what I think was a bison range. I'm not super sure, nor am I sure we even saw any wildlife. It was cold, dark, and we were less than halfway across the US. For years I had assumed, like most Americas that Nebraska was simply a fly-over state. In that short chilly afternoon Yoni introduced us to the wide open beauty of the plaines. As a photographer Yoni travels the globe shooting portraits and weddings, for me, I was eager to learn more about how Yoni made it from Israel to Nebraska and how that altered his world view.....

 


 

Why do you adventure? It's in my blood, my father is a man of great adventure, I grew up listening to his stories of places he's been. When he met my mom (She met my dad while traveling the Sinai desert, while backpacking through Europe.), those adventures just doubled. They have boxes and boxes of photos they took from all of their travels, beautiful old school film. They can tell me the story of each photograph. That's probably the single most intense drive I have for adventuring and traveling.

 

Why do you explore? It’s the only time I ever truly feel like myself. I get restless easily, if I don't go on a trip often I start to lose my mind.

 

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Why take risks in life? In the words of Ash Ketchum, “nothing in life is a waste of time.” Plus risks lead to lessons.

 

Where are you from? I was born in Israel, I moved to Papillion, Nebraska when I was 10. My mom's side of the family is from western Nebraska, so they all lived there. That's why I went from the desert to the icy winters of the Midwest.

 

What is your 9-5? Is that slang for job? I photograph humans, my dog, and landscapes on occasion. I just finished my degree in advertising at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

When on a trip it's more like a 5-midnight, because you almost always want that sunrise shot?

 

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When you were growing up what or who did you want to be? I actually really wanted to be a mechanical engineer. I wanted to design car engines. My Dad is a private car dealer (that's a title hard to explain) I grew up around cars my whole life. Then I realized in college how terrible I was at Chemistry, that's how I ended up picking up photography.

 

Favorite place you've visited? There was this lake, outside Mammoth, California. Convict Lake, it's kinda famous. I went there with my friends Greg Balkin, and Taylor Burk. We stayed with another friend Josh Wray, who runs some advertising for mammoth. Anyway we woke up super early one morning and went out to this lake, in November of 2015. It was cold, like 6o, and Greg & Taylor needed to shoot for Oru Kayak. Being the only one not working for them, it was my job to be the guy in the kayak. I got in and almost fell in the lake, but I caught myself by plunging my right arm into the lake. Then I had to kayak for 25ish minutes with a freezing arm. I almost passed out getting back to the car. Not sure why but it's one of my most fond memories, maybe it's because I felt really courageous after that, or maybe it's because we went to a diner and I got chocolate chip pancakes.

 

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Place you most desperately want to visit? I NEED TO GO AFRICA. I went as a kid but I don't remember any of it. I have a huge passion for animals. The bigger the better, and my heart aches daily for the ivory poaching that happens on that continent. I want to photograph some rhinos and elephants before I can't.

 

What is the single greatest moment of human humanity you've experienced while traveling? In high school I was on a trip to Poland with 150 other Jewish teens from around the country, we had a holocaust survivor with us. Just the cutest tiniest lady named Trudy, we were walking through Majdanek (the most "put together" death camp still in existence). Anyway I hadn't gotten more than a hundred yards through this place, with Trudy by side when she grabs my hand. At first I thought she might need my support, then I realized I was the one crying my eyes out. The human heart is an exceptional piece of understanding.

 

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What has changed about you because of your travels? I feel that I grow a bit each time I get on a plane, I've learned most from meeting other people, and the farther away they are the more I seem to learn.

 

Who is the most dynamic and thought provoking person you've ever met? Dallas Clayton, he writes children's books.

 

If you could travel with one person in history or in present who would it be and why? This question really stumped me until I saw "or in present" I would love to go on a trip with Obama, which I know sounds like a super lame cop-out answer, but it's not for political reasons, I just think he would love to hangout with some elephants as much as I do.

 

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Must haves for travel? Stuff you should always pack?
Underwear. Everything else you can just buy, unless you don't have any money, then you should make sure you packed it. I always make a packing list, even if it's common sense stuff, you don't want to be at the airport and realize you forgot all of your t-shirts on the bed.

 

 

Give us some travel tips: You will learn to hate sitting in the back of the plane, not because of the comfort, but because of how long it takes to get off when you get somewhere you really want to go. Buy a car you can set up to sleep in comfortably. I suggest a Subaru Forester, mine's named Humphrey, he's really rad.

Buy a camera, even if you're not a photographer, you don't need to be, just take photos of everything you see, the market, the hotel, the car you're in, the views you see, the people you meet. We don't have perfect memories, we do forget, and those things you don't want to forget,

 

...trust me. Print the photos, keep them in a shoe box.

One day you might show these pictures to your kids.

 

Also be stupidly kind to the people who work in travel, you never know when you'll get an upgrade or a perk for being nice even when everything has gone wrong.

 

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Give us a story any kind of story from one of your trips that was impactful: It's okay to travel alone, even for a day, the world is not out to get you. Sometimes I get the most out of a trip when I take a day to explore alone. Recently I walked 13 miles through Seattle in one day and when I got to the space needle, I just sat there and soaked it all in. Then I got some tacos. - always get tacos. It doesn’t always have to be a whole day alone, if you're not like that. I got to Granby Colorado for a wedding weekend in August, I got there an hour before the sunset, and I knew I had to get some photos before I met up with everyone. I went on a trail run and ran out of light before I got to the meadow I was trying to get to, I thought it was going to be a total flop. On the drive back, I found a group of elk that just came off the mountain, they were so graceful, I stood out of the sunroof of my car and observed. I remembered to snag a picture before I left, it’s kinda blurry but I love it.

 

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Based on your travels what is the single most needed improvement for humanity to be stronger Make flights cheaper, make borders more transparent. We need to meet each other. More accessible tacos.

 

What would you say to someone who has never travelled before? Adventure isn't on top of a mountain, it's not the beautiful waterfalls or cliffs. It's everywhere, you've travelled before, I can almost guarantee it. You just didn't know you were.

 

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What is the single greatest lesson you've learned from someone that is different than you? How different they're not.

 

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When did you feel you were most out of your comfort zone? What did you learn from that lesson? I can't sleep in tents, I was backpacking with my brother once in the mountains of Colorado, and we had a little incident with a moose, it's a fairly long story but it got me good, and now I can't sleep in tents. Put me in a tent and you'll have a very uncomfortable Yoni.

This might lead you to the question:
"How do you sleep when you camp then?" I don't, or I just sleep in my car.

The greatest lesson I've learned from this: you CAN overcome challenges, no matter how impossible they might seem, you just have to think out of the box, and accept some situations but you have to try first.

 

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What would you say to your former self? "Hey thanks for everything you tried to do, don't worry we figured it out, also one day you'll become lactose intolerant so please binge on ice cream, you can lose weight later"

 

What gives you hope? I'm a lame hopeless romantic, I've yet to meet a person that has made me completely lose hope in humanity. Then again, I haven’t met Trump in person yet.

 

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Where to next? California to Yeah Field Trip! After that some more domestic trips, then hopefully somewhere new.

 

Is flannel always in season? If it's not, you can always get flannel boxers and just not tell anyone you're wearing them.

@YoniLiveOnce || YoniGill.com

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A Certain Curiosity — Adventure with Cole Kiburz

Ben Ashby

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AN INTERVIEW WITH COLE KIBURZ

PHOTOGRAPHY BY RYAN NEAL CORDWELL

 

I've known LA based photographer and videographer Cole Kiburz for years now. I continually find myself longing to be on all of his adventures. I decided it was long past time to introduce him to you...

 


 

Why do you adventure? Adventuring is a great way to disrupt the status quo of your routine and creates conditions where possibilities for growth, self-discovery and evolution are abundant. 

 

Why do you explore? I’ve always had a certain curiosity that I’ve carried with me since childhood. I always have to know what’s just around the bend. 

 

Why take risks in life? No one has ever done anything of great significance or value without taking risks. I’ve learned as much (if not more) from failure than I have from success so I’m not really afraid any more of the ramifications of taking calculated risks. “Shoot for the stars, land on the moon”, etc.

 

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Where are you from? I’m from Arizona but spent some of my formative years living on a farm in Iowa. I wasn’t much of a fan at the time, but I do appreciate the lessons of the land and the work ethic that time instilled in me. Currently, I reside in Los Angeles, CA. 

 

What is your 9-5? For the last 6 years, I have worked as a freelance photographer, filmmaker and writer. 

 

When you were growing up what or who did you want to be? I told my mom when I was 5 that I wanted to be an environmentalist haha. I also always wanted to be an actor and I pursued music pretty aggressively for a while. 

 

Favorite place you've visited? That’s hard because different places can bring out different sides of ones personality. I’d say that Alaska was awe-inspiring with all its untamed beauty and adventure at every turn. India was the most visceral and culturally foreign place I’ve ever traveled to and I would certainly love the opportunity to go back.

 

Place you most desperately want to visit? I am really hoping to plan a safari to Africa to document some of the tragically endangered species there. I’d also love to visit the Maldives before climate change and rising sea levels overcome them. 

 

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What is the single greatest moment of humanity you've experienced while traveling? I think one of the best parts of traveling is the random people that you encounter along the way. The people in Costa Rica are incredibly kind, helpful and laid back (“Pura Vida” for those in the know). The best example of humanity I’ve probably witnessed is a tuk tuk driver in India named Torry who I now consider to be a brother. Torry was known in Agra as “Torry of the dogs” because he’d spend a good portion of all the money he made driving a tuk tuk to buy food for all the stray dogs. He’d find sick puppies in the street and nurture them back to health. We’d wake up at sunrise some mornings and go to temple and then go feed all sorts of animals from monkeys to chipmunks to birds. Torry is an angel on this earth I simply adore him.

 

What has changed about you because of your travels? I grew up in a very conservative household and I think that traveling broadens your horizons and shows you that, in the end, most people want the same things—to love and be loved and just to enjoy their lives and their families. I’ve also learned to be a better listener and more present in the moment.

 

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Who is the most dynamic and thought provoking person you've ever met?  I’ve been fortunate to work with some of my favorite musicians, artists and entertainers over the years. I don’t think I could choose one person, but I am very grateful that my work has put me in to some rooms I never could’ve imagined being in.

 

If you could travel with one person in history or in present who would it be and why? The first person that came to mind was John Muir but I think I’d have to go with Bob Dylan—there’d still be the poetic-ness to everything, but the campfire jam sessions would be out of control and he’d be able to teach me how to train hop which would be pretty cool!

 

What are your must haves for travel: @atlassupplyco backpack, @moment lenses, @ezraaurthur journal, @nisoloshoes boots, @brixton wide brim hat, @swellbottle, micron pens, pocket knife, headphones, Canon DSLR, and a guitar if possible otherwise a harmonica. 

 

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Give us a few travel tips: The road can be romantic and magical, but it can also be exhausting and unforgiving. Take care of your body the best you can. Pack zinc, a good multivitamin melatonin, and plenty of socks. A high-quality neck-pillow can be a worthwhile investment. Also, a good translator app and a Mophie battery pack can come in very handy. More abstractly, I’d strongly suggest writing in your journal as often as possible and, more specifically, write about the experiences as sensorially as possible (what did the village smell like? What sounds did you hear that were new or foreign? What flavor profiles did you experience for the first time?) These details can often be fleeting as if in a dream, but if captured, can help to ground you and recall more specific s of how a place made you feel

 

Give us a story from one of your trips: Most of my experiences on the road have been incredible and a large part of that is the people I have traveled with whom I have shared in both triumph and tragedy and a million laughs in between. That said, it’s important to really know who you’re traveling with and make sure that they are someone who will be able to go with the flow and not cause unneeded drama or stress. As the survivor of at least one trip where I did not account for this, trust me, it can change everything and profoundly affect your journey and spirit. 

 

Based on your travels what is the single most needed improvement for humanity to be stronger? We need to talk to each other more; more specifically, we need to listen to each other more. Many people are predisposition to fear what they don’t know and it’s rather unfortunate because I believe the majority of people are good. We need to remember that borders are artificial creations of man and that most often wars are fought to the benefit of the ruling class. We are all brothers and sisters sharing this planet; and it’s a planet that we should cherish and care for.

 

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What would you say to someone who has never travelled before? A lot of times people say to me “you’re so lucky to get to travel all the time” or “I wish I could travel like you do”. I want people to know that I don’t come from money and that, on my journey, I’ve encountered at least as much bad luck as good luck, but I made a conscious decision that traveling was of high priority to me and I worked hard to manifest a reality where it was possible. The hardest part of any journey is the first step, so if you’ve never traveled, pick a date and a place and just MAKE IT HAPPEN. Once you get going, you will be called to do it again and again. Traveling really isn’t that expensive if you are willing to sacrifice a little comfort for life-changing opportunities. Sleep in a hostel or in a tent. Buy food at grocery stores. A lot of countries are cheaper than America, focus on visiting places like that at first. If nothing else, hop in your car and drive a few hours on a day off and just explore somewhere you’ve never been!

 

What is the single greatest lesson you've learned from someone that is different than you? I had the incredible opportunity this year to spend a couple weeks with Tibetan Monks as they created a Sand Mandala. I learned from them the joy and peace that can be achieved through staying present and not having attachments. Life is transcendental and the only constant is change—embrace that as the truth. 

 

When did you feel you were most out of your comfort zone? What did you learn from that lesson? Be it hot air-ballooning through the final-frontier or repelling down a 200ft water-fall in the rainforest, I have chosen to face my fears head-on in an attempt to conquer them. Anytime you do something you didn’t think you could, you become a fuller, more confident version of yourself. 

 

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What would you say to your former self? I’d tell myself to not speak or think in self-defeating terms. Our brains are funny machines that often create “shortcuts” in the way we think in order to arrive at the quickest answer. Because of this, if a parent or teacher told you that you weren’t good at something or that something isn’t possible, you may be repeating that same Iie to yourself without even realizing it. If you daydream about being something, it’s already in you to be that. If a secret passion sings in your soul, you have to listen and follow it. Time is precious, put in the work and get going—this is your one life, make it count!

 

What gives you hope? I think that the internet and the gift of its infinite access to knowledge and to each other is helping to wake a lot of people up to the ways of the world and is creating a more educated and active youth that is rejecting the blind materialism of the past; one that is anxious to live in a more compassionate, conscious world that is more of accepting of one another and more protective of the natural world we inhabit. 

 

Where to next? Hopefully Cuba with @ryannealcordwell.

 

Is flannel always in season? Being yourself is always in season.

 

@COLEPLAY

Thats What Traveling is All About! Meet John Thatcher

Ben Ashby

We've known photographer John Thatcher for years. We've been constantly inspired by his images of California and the life out west. We felt it was time to finally sit down and learn about the man behind the camera. 

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Why do you adventure? I adventure and explore so that I can prove to myself that more is out there than what I can see on a screen or magazine. I need to find out how finding these new places or trying new things feels. I already know what it looks like.


Why take risks in life? Life is about takings risks. Whats the point of living if you only live one way for your whole life?

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Where are you from? I'm from the San Francisco Bay Area.


What is your 9-5? I'm a fashion and lifestyle photographer for a day job and a songwriter for my non day job.

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When you were growing up what or who did you want to be? Growing up I wanted to be a professional skateboarder. I was pretty close to almost kind of sorta doing it.


What is the favorite place you've visited? My favorite place I've visited was the Saguaro Cactus Reserve. I love me some cacti.

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Place you most desperately want to visit? 

The place I want to visit the most is probably France. The whole country, but mostly the parts where there are wine and cheese.

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What is the single greatest moment of human humanity you've experienced while traveling? The single greatest moment of humanity that Ive ever experienced while traveling was in Denver when a waitress gave me and my girlfriend a free pancake because she knew we needed to try it. I almost cried. 
 


What has changed about you because of your travels? I think the thing that has changed most about me is how I feel about material things. Since traveling more, I care about that and less about having stuff. Stuff can be replaced, but experiences cannot.



 

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If you could travel with one person in history or in present who would it be and why? I would travel with John Muir or Ansel Adams for obvious reasons.

 


Give us a travel tip: Most essential travel tip is definitely ask for a hand check when going through airport security for your film. Don't let them x-ray it! EVER!
 


Give us a story: When you're traveling, you meet tons of different people and more importantly...dogs. I once was at a little camp near Yosemite and I met a man and his basset hound named Chopper. Years later a friend went to Japan and texted me a photo of a basset hound she met. I asked if it was Chopper and it was! What a crazy coincidence. Thats what traveling is all about!
 

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Based on your travels what is the single most needed improvement for humanity to be stronger? The most needed improvement for humanity is cheaper living. If more people were able to get out and do what makes them happy more often, then people would lead better lives and pass on their better moods to everyone else. For a lot of people, money is the route of their problems and if we fixed that, we could change the human experience. Also, puppies. People need more puppies.



What would you say to someone who has never travelled before? If you've never traveled before...go get in the car or on a plane now for no other reason than to just try something new. Its about the journey, not the destination. Go anywhere for any reason.

 


 

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What is the single greatest lesson you've learned from someone that is different than you? I've learned that everyone feels differently about everything. Just because you have the same experience as someone else, it doesn't mean you both feel the same. It's too easy to argue with someone over how they feel and you can never win that argument. The lesson is just accept other peoples feelings and move on.



When did you feel you were most out of your comfort zone? What did you learn from that lesson? I never really feel out of my comfort zone. I have an ability to kind of adjust to any situation. I've never been to a third world country before. I think that would be hard for me. 
 

 

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What would you say to your former self? I would tell my former self to travel more often earlier. I thought I shouldn't travel because it was expensive and I could use that money for things that will last longer than a trip, so I never really went anywhere until a few years ago. I wish now that I had started when I was younger. 
 


What gives you hope? A sunrise and fresh morning gives me the most hope. New day and new possibilities.


 

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Where to next? Not sure where I'll go next. Hopefully France! Need some wine real bad.
 


Is flannel always in season? FLANNEL IS ALWAYS IN SEASON.

 

— John Thatcher

American Field Portraits

Ben Ashby

Last month Paige and I popped into American Field Brooklyn to do a natural light portrait series. The concept was inspired by a series GQ created at American Field a few years ago...but we decided to change it up a bit by incorporating natural light and natural elements we had sourced from various thrift and antique stores in Brooklyn.  

 

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BY PAIGE DENKIN

 

AMERICAN FIELD PORTRAITS

BY BEN ASHBY

Authentic Lives | Andrea Tamburrini

Ben Ashby

Known for his delicious European moments, here are some images from our archives by Andrea.  

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Authentic Lives | Alex McDonell

Ben Ashby

We’ve been friends with Alex for forever. We recently discovered some of his early work in our archives. Check it out.  

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Authentic Lives | Scott Bakkin

Ben Ashby

Canadian photographer Scott Bakkin is known for his landscapes of the Canadian Rockies and the western regions of Canada. Over the years we’ve collected a few of our favorite images by him.... 

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"Shortly, It Will All be Memories" || Meet Patrice Plouffe

Ben Ashby

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Photographer Patrice Plouffe has enchanted us with his dark and moody landscapes from across the globe. We wanted to learn more about his photography and his adventures so we sat down for a chat. 

 


Why do you adventure?  When I’m on an adventure, I am by myself. Being far away from others and big cities makes me feel alive and helps me manage my stress. 
 


 

Why do you explore? I love to take pictures of wild animals. I explore to be able to find their most hidden dens and capture pictures of them in their natural state. 
 

 

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Why take risks in life? I used to never take risks I was comfortable with the stability. But things happened in my life and that’s forces me to push myself and my limits. Sometimes even if you don’t want to, you have to. Personally, my best memories are from when I took risks. 


 

Where are you from? I am from Québec, Canada. I was born and raised the very small town of Saint-Sulpice (population of about 2,000). My backyard was fields and forests. I think that’s why I’ve always loved wildlife and why I’ve always had a special connection with nature. Presently, for work, I live in the much bigger city of Montreal, unfortunately. I do however on weekends get out of town as much as I can! 

 
 

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What is your 9-5? I am the project manager for a downtown Montréal artist/designer company. 


 

When you were growing up what or who did you want to be? When I was very young I wanted to invent things, like an industrial designer. After, a little older, I started to play guitar and was in a band. So at that point I wanted to be a rockstar (haha). I’ve always be a very creative person: I play music, I draw, I take pictures. My big goal is to live off my art.

 

 

 

 

Favorite place you've visited? Everywhere in Iceland, but Jökulsárlón blue lagoon was magical. 


 

Place you most desperately want to visit? Indonesia


 

What is the single greatest moment of human humanity you've experienced while traveling? I will always be amazed how generous people are towards strangers. 

When I was younger I played music in a band. We used to do a lot of shows and tours away from home. For weeks we had little money and no place to sleep. 

People were always ready to invite us in to their homes, let us take showers and made us food even though they didn’t know us personally. There was also one family in Iceland that will always be in my heart. They were so generous with my friend and myself. They invited us, complete strangers, into their home. They made us dinner, gave us a place to sleep, shared their knowledge of Iceland with us and even lent us their car. 


What has changed about you because of your travels? I'm much more grateful for what I have in life. I enjoy the simple things that surround me.


 

If you could travel with one person in history or in present who would it be and why? I am used to traveling alone but if I had to choose it would be with my good friend Micheal. He’s not complicated, he’s as easy going as I am and we’re often on the same wave length. He pushes me to take more risks and be more adventurous. 


 

 

Must haves for travel? Toilet paper.


 

Travel tips: If you’re short on time and cannot take a long term vacation be sure to rent a car. By relying on public transportation you loose a lot of time. You’ll be so much less stressed and another perk, you can always sleep in the car if necessary. 


 

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Give us a story: I traveled alone in Costa rica and everyone told me that it was a very safe place, but in the city of Tamarindo I ran into trouble. I was out at a club with a lot of Costaricans, it was the only night of my trip that I decided to go out to party. A Costarican was bothering me the whole night, trying to sell me cocaine. A little later in the night, a couple of drinks in, I had made friends with another traveler who was staying at the same hostel as I. I was honestly a bit tipsy and had to use the washroom, but it was very far in a dark corner behind the club. When I got out of the washroom the same guy who was harassing me to buy cocaine came at me with a knife in his hands telling me I have to buy his cocaine or I would be in a lot of trouble. Not knowing how to react I told him I had no money on me, but I would be back quickly with some. He obviously followed me back into the club. This is where I saw the one friend I had made at the beginning of the night. I told him I was in a lot of trouble and needed his help to get back safely to the hostel. He took a moment and tried to talk to the Costarican, without success. He couldn’t do anything for me because the Costarican had pulled a gun on him. At this point I must admit I was pretty scared, not to mention the club was closing in less than an hour. I didn’t know what to do. I told the Costarican that I needed to get to the bank and at that point I just bolted. I must have ran 6KM in 2minutes (haha) to get back to the hostel. Luckily I met a security guard who calmed me down and reassured me. Apparently in the drug “low seasons” in Tamarindo it happens a lot. I don’t have to tell you I didn’t sleep one wink that night. I would have to say, be extra vigilant and careful, you never know what can happen when you’re alone! Words of advice when you’re alone: don’t drink too much and keep your head straight. 


 

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Based on your travels what is the single most needed improvement for humanity to be stronger: Humanity has lost its way, If I could remove one thing on earth to help the world it would be all the hatred, terrorists and religions. Every single human needs to accept everyone as they are. When defining religions, we create differences, thus separating us all instead of drawing us all together.

 

What would you say to someone who has never travelled before? Take time to enjoy and relax, don't be hurried. It’s over way too soon. Shortly, it will all be memories. You will regret if you don’t enjoy the moment.

 

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When did you feel you were most out of your comfort zone? What did you learn from that lesson? Every time I travel I'm out of my comfort zone. I travel with only a backpack and a limited budget. That's what I love and I learn every time to be more grateful of what I have back home. The time I’ve felt the most out of my comfort zone was the Costa Rica incident previously mentioned. I felt very alone and powerless. I’ve learned to be more careful and not go to crazy partying alone in a club so far  away from home ;)


What would you say to your former self? Time changes everything, stop stressing, be patient, everything will fall into place.


 

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What gives you hope? Photography, nature, landscapes, wildlife


 

Where to next? I would love to visit my country.  The Rockies, British Columbia. Also for my next big trip I would visit Norway. 
 


 

Is flannel always in season? No :/ I'm always hot. 

 

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Take Better Portraits: Tips from Brandon Roberts

Ben Ashby

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Like yesterday's story with Emil we sat down with Seattle based photographer Brandon Roberts while he was in New York City to discuss his journey towards mastering portraits. After introducing Brandon and Emil to each other they went out into the city to create a series of portraits of each other to demostrate how their styles differ. 

 

Who are you. Where are you. Give us your links.  Brandon Roberts, currently residing in Seattle, WA. www.betterrugged.com. @betterrugged.

How long have you been a photographer. Is it your main job? Ever since I was a kid, I’ve taken photos. In high school, I spent time shooting and developing my own film. That’s when I became captivated. It took years after that to look at photography as a career and not just a hobby. Currently, I split my time as a reality tv producer and part-time photographer. I’m not far away from being a photographer full-time. #goals

 

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When did you take your first portrait? I feel like my first portrait is from when I was 15 years old, in my awkward, clumsy days taking pictures of my friends for my high school my photo class. One of the first is of my best friend, Annie. I had her sit and pose on my plaid-covered futon in my teenage-boy bedroom. In this black and white photo she’s looking off to the side with all my crap around her. In the photo you can see a Marvin the Martian poster, Real World poster, an expired Washington state license plate, a Lucille Ball set-photo of her losing it in the chocolate factory, a CD boombox and a fish tank (DANG. hahahaha). This was a photo I shot and developed myself. 

 

How have you progressed over time? What do you feel has been your most improved quality? I’m constantly progressing. That’s always going to happen as long as I keep shooting. My style has changed over time because I continuously create a space for myself to try new techniques whether that’s in-camera or during my editing process. My most improved quality while taking portraits, lately, is editing in a way that celebrates the subject. I don’t want to them to seem dull or fade into the background while in their environment and I try to add a bit of magic to help set the tone. That and just making sure there’s not a lot of noise, the image is properly exposed and the eyes remain sharp. If I don’t have these, I don’t have a portrait. 

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What makes for a good portrait? A good portrait makes me feel something immediately. When a portrait makes me feel, as a viewer, I want to figure out what story is presenting itself to me. Lighting is beyond important as this helps set the tone for what story is being told. The gestures or reactions the subject delivers help elevate each portrait I take. Connecting and adapting to my subject is part of my process, I’ve got to be able to make them feel comfortable enough to decide where they want to go with my directing. Getting the best results in camera sets me up for a successful edit. 


Do you prefer natural light or artificial? Why? I have crafted my portrait skills mostly with natural light. However, I’m getting more into studio portraiture lately. They’re both so different. I like them for different reasons. When I’m out taking pictures of strangers or other subjects, I love to honor where they are in that exact moment, using the natural light to help tell their background story. With natural light you start to discern what part of the world they’re in, where they might be going, where they’re from or how they’re feeling. When using studio light to shoot a subject, I’m able to slow down the process and really get to know my subject. It’s way more intimate and that shows through the lens because as soon as the subject allows you to snap one pic you have successfully gained your subjects trust to tell their story, whatever that might be.  

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How important is composition and what makes for good composition? Composition is essential in portrait photography. We have wandering eyes and short attention spans, so grabbing ahold of the viewer is the goal. Composition helps grasp the viewers attention. Good composition allows the viewer to navigate through the image effortlessly, with purpose and reason. Composition shouldn't be clumsy, it has to make sense. Cropping is an important tool to help with composition. One should always try to master my composition in-camera, to help setup a successful edit. 

Color or black and white? I currently shoot in color. There’s something about seeing the setting as it is. I like the hints of many colors the world has to offer in order to create a little bit of magic I like to exhibit in my photos. I’ve been shooting a lot more in the state of Washington and I cannot imagine not seeing these greens pop in photographs, nor would I want to take away all of the endless colors New York City has to offer. 

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What Camera do you shoot with? Canon 5D Mark Iv


Any final advice? Go on photo-dates with other photographers who interest you, or you’ve never met in real life. Walking through the fear of not feeling capable or qualified diminishes once you get to know other photographers. I have pushed myself the last few years to do this and it has met me with incredible results. I’ve managed to make best of friends and continuously become inspired to keep going as a photographer. I have learned new skills, different shooting techniques and take the inspirations I receive during these little friend-dates to get me to the next level. It’s fascinating to hear and understand someone else’s photo journey. We’re all just trying to figure it out at the same time. 

Take Better Portraits: Tips from Emil Cohen

Ben Ashby

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Sometimes you meet people in random places. Sometimes you meet characters that need to be photographed. This Christmas season as people are gathering together we wanted to propose the idea of taking portraits of friends and family. To learn more about taking the perfect portrait we asked five of our photographer friends about their portraits and for tips on how to make yours better. 

Our first photographer is New York based Emil Cohen. I ran into Emil at American Field in Brooklyn earlier this month and knew right away I wanted to go to him for advice. I quickly introduced him to Brandon and they did a dual portrait session. Tomorrow we will see Brandon's portraits of Emil, but today it is all about Emil and his advice to you...

 


 

Who are you. Where are you. Give us your links. I'm Emil Cohen, I'm a New York based photographer specializing in portraits and people. You can see my work at www.emildcohen.com / www.instagram.com/emilcohen and www.instagram.com/portraitsinprovincetown 

How long have you been a photographer? Is it your main job? I've been an amateur photographer my whole life. Photography has been a family interest dating back to the 19th century.  In 2011, I began the graduate program at Tufts University's School of the Museum of Fine Art and received my MFA in 2014. I mark my first day of grad school as when I became a professional photographer.

 

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When did you take your first portrait? I can't tell you when I took my first portrait, but I do remember the first time one of my portraits was recognized outside of my immediate world. It was August of 2009, and I had one more semester of college left. I had taken a photo with an alpaca earlier that summer and decided to enter the photo into a contest run by The Student Travel Agency, an internationally renowned company for students and young adults who want to travel the world. When they announced my name on Facebook, I "whooped!" so loudly, that I got yelled at by my superior at my internship at National Geographic. But it didn't matter because part of the winning prize was a free trip to Europe! By December, I was off on a plane and would be back for eight weeks. Photo below: 

 

 

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How have you progressed over time? What do you feel has been your most improved quality? Over time, I feel that my aesthetic has become stronger. I continue to study other photographers and artists whom I admire, but rather than mimic them, I try to incorporate what I love about their work and apply it to my own vision. My most improved quality has definitely been the working dynamic that I create with my subject. As a photographer who specializes in portraits, it's crucial to have the person who's in front of the camera trust you, the photographer. In doing so, they let their guard down which will therefore, allow me to capture a true version of themselves. Sometimes you're given days or hours, and sometimes just a few minutes, but each experience has to be unique and met with the same amount of tenacity and determination.  

 

 

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What makes for a good portrait? To me, a good portrait is an image of person or place that shows the true version of who or what they really are.. There is a fine line between a headshot and a portrait, and the difference is honesty. With a headshot, you're trying to sell yourself to a casting agent which, while it's an attractive photos of a person, might not showcase who they really are. Photographers like Peter Hujar, Irving Penn and William Klein are portrait photographers who stripped away the background and forced a viewer to gaze at the subject head on. Then you have photographers like Alec Soth, Larry Clark and Nan Goldin who create portraits of places and communities and are just as strong and evocative as the studio photographers. In the end, what all these photographers have in common is that the camera disappears in their work, leaving the viewer gazing into a window of a raw and real moment caught in time. 

 

 

 

Do you prefer natural light or artificial? Why? Both! Natural light and artificial light both have their advantages. A photographer who knows their way around strobes will be able to recreate sunlight using flashes and use the strobes to create intentional dramatic lighting. The key is asking yourself how you want to light the photo before you shoot and then plan accordingly. For my studio portraits, I rely on a defused light which creates a soft and even light on my model, but when I shoot outdoors, I have to decide what time of day and what weather conditions I want to be shooting in. Will it be around dawn or sunset for the Golden Hour lighting? Or do I want a cloudy day that will act as a natural soft box? And look at other people's work that you love and figure out how they did it! Always a useful idea when trying to plan a photo. 


How important is composition and what makes for good composition? This is a tough question because it's so subjective. For me, composition is crucial to achieving the best version of the photo that you envision. A composition will include a few key thoughts such as framing, depth, leading lines, and symmetry. If you need a refresher, here's a great list published on Photography Mad. 

 

 

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Color or black and white? Both! Before I take a photo, I try to think whether or not the image will be black and white or color. Both palates have their own benefits. Photographers like Penn, Richard Avedon, Horst P Horst, Bruce Davidson, Vivian Maier and Diane Arbus, utilized black and white film to their advantage. These photographers started only having black and white film and therefore thought accordingly: creating photographs that are high in contrast, rich in detail and having the color removed, forced the viewer to gaze specifically at the subject that was being photographed. It's like the Wizard of Oz. The beginning of the film in Kansas features some truly breathtaking cinematography because they knew they were shooting in black and white and therefore, had to think in black and white while they shot it. 

Then Dorthy lands in Oz and all of a sudden, you catch your breath at all the incredible color. 

Color photography is amazing because you get to think differently. With color, you start thinking of complimentary colors, temperature, color balance etc.  I love artists like Cathy Opie, Todd Hido, Joel Sternfeld, Greg Crewdson, Jim Dow and David LeChaplle because of their eye for color and their ability to use the color as tool for composition. 

 

 

 


What camera do you shoot with? Canon 5D Mark iii, Iphone 8 and a Pentax K3000 35mm

 

 

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Any final advice: Two things: 

 

1. SLOW DOWN. Taking a 4x5 Large Format class was revolutionary for me because I was forced to slam the breaks on my shooting. Due to the high cost and many steps that it takes to take one image, you as a photographer can't just point and shoot. Large format photography takes time and precision which is often forgotten in a day of digital photography. I challenge any photographer to limit themselves when their out shooting a project or portrait. See how much stronger your work becomes when you allow yourself the time to breathe and think before you shoot. 

 

2. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. I am of the belief that no idea is truly original anymore. However, that doesn't mean that you can't create original work, it just means understanding the conversation that already exists and how you as an artist can join in on the discussion. Do research online or the library. Whether it's Google, or Tumblr or going to a museum of photo gallery in your city, go and learn about who else is out there. Support your fellow photographers and be inspired at the work their creating. 

 

 

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