Posted by: Katie | April 10, 2012

Traveling Photographer

Alex  (with Namibian desert elephants in the background)

(http://bindiphotography.com/)

Last year, Alex joined my university group on our trip to South Africa and Namibia. I learned – and directly observed – Alex’s love or wildlife and photography. She carried around her camera gear wherever we went and I greatly enjoyed watching her work to get the best angles. I learned that she had also been to Botswana and Madagascar. I also learned that she traveled to New Zealand and Australia in order to get a Masters degree in Conservation Biology. She currently leads photo tours in Florida – I need to plan to attend one soon.

1. When did your interest in photography begin?

I got my start in photography thanks to a high school sociology assignment. We were tasked with doing a photo scavenger hunt and then creating a collage out of the photos we’d taken. I only had my dad’s Canon AE-1 from the 70’s – good old film, digital was still a few years away. So that’s how I got started in taking photos. From there I took a black and white film processing class and that really opened my eyes to techniques in film.

I also have to credit my background in biology and ecology as getting me back into photography. I was constantly amazed at how powerful nature can be. Also, it’s use as a means to promote conservation was an aspect I’m particularly interested in. The natural world has really been my inspiration and driven my passion for photography.

2. Do you have any advice for beginning or amature photographers?

It doesn’t matter what type of camera you have – iPhone, point and shoot, SLR, film, digital – just get out there. A lot of people, especially when just starting out, think that it’s the camera that would define their photographic ability. “If I just had a DSLR… or a new lens… my photos would be so much better.” And that’s definitely not the case. Getting out there and practicing is the only way you’ll improve your photography. It builds your skills and defines your work. So get out there and have fun!

3. What was the best advice someone has given you?

Watch your edges. Be responsible of everything in your frame. In being aware of what is in the viewfinder, or screen, I’ve really made a conscious effort to think about what I’m try to shoot, what story I want to tell with the image I’m about to capture. I’ll admit, I don’t always follow this advice – sometimes the moment is just too fast – but when I do, I see a huge difference in the quality of my photos.

4. You’ve done wedding, pet, and nature photography. Is there anything you consider your speciality?

I’d like to think that I specialize in nature photography. It’s truly my greatest passion – using photography as a means to promote conservation biology. However, I’ve begun to really appreciate the interconnectedness of all genres of photography. While weddings may seem a far cry from a photo of a lioness, I’ve started to see the same emotions present in these scenes. There’s still love, tension, excitement, etc. One aspect that I really love about photography is how malleable it is. If you start to get in a rut, there’s always another genre that might get those creative juices flowing again. I’ve recently started experimenting with flash photography, and it’s amazing how much it teaches you about light. Using the principles I’ve learnt through playing with a flash definitely helps the way I look at light when photography landscapes and wildlife.

5. Who are some photographers that inspire you?

Whew, there’s a lot. Henri Cartier-Bresson is a master photographer, one of the greats, who specialized in capturing every day scenes and making them immensely intimate. As for my personal photography heroes, I’d have to say Cristina Mittermeier and Carlton Ward, Jr. What they’ve done for the field of conservation photography is astounding. Founding the International League of Conservation Photographers alone has taken conservation photography to a whole new level and is crossing barriers between conservation, art, and media.

6. You have recently started organizing photo tours. What should one expect when attending? What do you teach them?

I want to show people that all it takes in the beginning is picking up your camera. If you’re passionate about it, you’ll go far. My tours always begin with an introduction on how to use your camera – whether a point and shoot or a DSLR – and how to get it out of auto mode. I then like to cover different composition techniques and what differentiates nature photography from other fields. I also always make sure the last half of the tour is getting out there and using your camera. It’s only through practice that you can begin to understand the medium and get the shots that you want.

7. We traveled to South Africa and Namibia last year and I learned you had also been to Botswana and Madagascar. What are some other places you’ve visited?

Everywhere I’ve been in Africa is just stunning; it really is a photographer’s paradise, as every image is magical. I’ve been fortunate enough to live in Australia and New Zealand and traveled to England, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Jamaica, and Costa Rica. Travel really inspires me photographically and being immersed in another culture is one of the highlights of life. I love the diversity you can find in the world, and it’s unlimited potential for encouraging unique photos.

8. While in Africa, I couldn’t help but notice all the photo equipment you had. What are your favorite lenses and brands?

Yes, it seems that one of the downsides to photography is the amount of equipment you seem to accumulate (or are constantly drooling over) – I was once told the only hobby more expensive was scuba diving.

I’m a Canon girl – it’s what I learnt on and what I’m sticking with. There seems to be a battle between the main camera manufacturers, but my experience is solely with Canon, so that’s all I can recommend.

I couldn’t live without my telephoto and my wide-angle lenses. No matter where I go, I always carry a 100-400mm and a 17-85mm lens. They cover pretty much every conceivable situation I would come across and they’ve never let me down. If someone is looking to upgrade their gear, always upgrade your lens – the camera bodies pretty much do the same general controls, but the lens is the most important aspect.

 

9. Do you mind sharing three of your favorite images and provide a couple sentences about each?

 

Overlooking Milford Sound

This is a photo a good friend and of myself (taken on a point and shoot, set on a rock with a timer) after we hiked an insane trail through Fiordland National Park in the South Island of New Zealand. We were sent on this hike thinking it would be a short little stroll in some great wilderness – it turned into an 8 hour hike up rock faces, through frozen lakes, and with no paths. But the end result was this stunning vista. It reminds me that if you preserve at what you love (and what makes you happy), you’re rewarded with amazing moments in life.

 

Cuban Tree Frog

I love this image. This was taken in my backyard in our pond. She is a female Cuban tree frog who just loved spending her days sleeping around the pond. This image has always been striking to me because it shows that you don’t have to travel the world and go to exotic, isolated locations to get great photos. I really believe some of the best photos we can take exist in the spaces we usually consider mundane and everyday. She’s a constant reminder that if I just take the time to open my eyes, there are endless possibilities right outside my door.

Photography with a Rat Snake

I took my 1st trip to the Everglades last November (I find it ironic that I’ve travelled the world, but have still not been to places in my home state). We were walking through the Clyde Butcher Gallery (another amazing photographer who I constantly draw inspiration from), and this huge rat snake was just sitting in the path. He really couldn’t care less about 3 humans hovering around him, taking photos. What it basically comes down to is, I’m a big nerd. I get super excited about nature (yes, I love snakes) and about photography – combining the 2 makes me ecstatic!

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Responses

  1. Reblogged this on Alexis Meyer Photography and commented:
    An interview done by my good friend Katie.
    Thanks for the awesome questions!


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