Ian Shive - ALIVE in America's National Parks

I’ve been very fortunate to work on America’s National Parks very closely for 8 or 9 years.

More recently, I love photographing in the Channel Islands [National Park], because it’s so close to home. I live in Los Angeles now. To have a National Park only 30 miles off the coastline is incredible. It provides the best of two worlds—both underwater as well as on land. It’s great, because it’s so rugged and remote.

Childhood

I grew up as the son of a photographer. I worked as my father’s assistant many times, back in the film days. I learned the appreciation of the quality of light—waiting for the light of the building to match the brightness of the sky. There are a lot of little details like that, when I think back on it, that had to play some role in my future as a photographer and working in the photo industry.

The Spark

It wasn’t really until I left New Jersey, and I went to college in Montana—briefly I’ll add—that I got my first 35mm camera. It was a film camera. You know, that’s the stuff with the little squares and celluloid [laughs].

I remember being awestruck with how different the place was from where I grew up in New Jersey. I went to school 90 miles North of Yellowstone National Park. It was a very dynamic time. Wolves had just been reintroduced. I remember wanting to capture that and share it with my friends and family back home.

The photos did not initially do [the experience] the justice I wanted them to. I felt like they captured the scene in a very literal sense, but they didn’t really capture the feeling, or the experience that I was having as an individual.

In that moment, I think the correct path of photography was generated. Not just to go out and capture something because you think this is a pretty spot or other people have done it before. But rather, to share an experience.

I set out to try and get my photos to capture what it was that I wanted to convey. And that is the journey that I’m still on to this day.

Genesis

It was around 1999 or 2000 that I registered my first domain name. I started to get feedback and comments from people I didn’t know. That was really the genesis, I think, of [my professional] photographic journey.

Affect on life

I’ve been to over three dozen countries, all 50 states, and I don’t just go to places people would think of going. When I go to Louisiana, I don’t go to New Orleans; I get to go to Northern Louisiana where nobody really goes and see what life is like.

Aside from the images, what I don’t think people realize is there’s an entire story behind the photographer and their experience. I often refer to my photographs as not being simply photographs but really journal entries, thoughts or feelings or places that struck me.

Advice

When you start out, don’t think so much about the sharing or the business, but develop the craft, give yourself time, and be brutally honest. Compare yourself to those you admire and those whom you look up to. Try to figure out who you are as a photographer.

Please leave a comment for Ian below. Experience more of Ian's work at IanShive.com

Watch the complete interview in the video at the top.

Clyde Butcher - I'm sinking in the mud. Three gators are yelling at me.

I was in Lake Istokpoga, and I’m up to my waste in water. When a storm is coming, it’s pulling in the air. Then, before it hits there’s about 10-30 seconds of no wind. So I’m standing, waiting for that 10-20 seconds through four or five storms that have come through. And I’m sinking in the mud.

There are three gators behind me, yelling at me. They sound kind of like a diesel truck down-shifting. I was becoming really one with nature there. In fact, I was so one with nature that I was stuck in the mud. Haha!

 

First camera

I seriously started when I was 8 years old. I got me a little Brownie Hawkeye. When I was 10, I got into 16mm movies. I did that mostly up until college.

I saw Ansel Adam’s work in 1961. “Moonrise over Hernandez” as a 16x20 was $75 bucks. Golly! Who would ever spend $75…

I started saying, “That’s kind of interesting. I think I’ll play with that.” So I started photographing nature. And I did really well. In fact I did more sales than I was doing in architecture. So I said, “I think I’ll do this.” I dropped out of architecture.

Primevil

What I like to photograph is maybe different than a lot of other people. Basically, I like primevil stuff. For example, the redwoods forest is one of my favorite spots. I feel like I am back to eternity when I am there. I mean, it’s 15 million years old. The dinosaurs were there. Then, when I started photographing Florida, I got the same feeling.

 

Everglades

I started photographing the Everglades in ’84. What’s that, 30 years? While photographing there, I’ve never met another person. That’s how primevil it is.

It’s probably the most unique place in the United States. Photographers come out here and they say, “This is confusing. It’s chaos.”

Chaos is what I look for, because in chaos you find biological order.

Affect on your life

When you’re shooting large format, there’s a lot of patience involved. Sometimes you’re in a spot for the whole day. Same spot. Waiting for the light, waiting for the wind to stop, and you become one with that spot. You get a feeling of where you are. You’re not just passing through.

Ansel Adams did kind of a “no-no” in some respects. He would try to manipulate his development for the light. And those pictures were never that successful. The ones he took that were good, the light was good.

Without the light, what do you have? You’ve got to have the right light.

Black & White

Nature is all one. If you use color, you’re defining different parts of it. Your mind’s going to see this color or that color. In black and white nature becomes a oneness. Everything is the same importance—the tree, the grass, the water, the sky. It’s all necessary; it’s all important.

 

Advice

I studied different photographers—Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, Edward Weston. Study other photographers, but you have to go out and shoot. You have to go out and have fun! But don’t bang around shooting. You’ve got to start thinking about what you do.

Please leave a comment for Clyde below. For more of Clyde's work, visit ClydeButcher.com

Watch the complete interview in the video at the top.

Dewitt Jones - It's about the light coming out of your eyes!

The first place you ought to publish your pictures is in your life—the light that’s coming out of your eyes, how you treat your family. It ought to make a difference!

In the beginning

My first camera was an Argus C3 that my Dad had during WWII. People told me that I had a good eye, but it really wasn’t until after college that I got really into photography. I started out as a filmmaker. I had a Masters in film from UCLA.

I was in Yosemite doing a film on John Muir, and I saw a guy walking in front of the Visitor’s Center. He turned out to be a Geographic writer. I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I’m doing an article on Muir.” I made a phone call, and even though I’d never published any pictures anywhere, they gave me the assignment. So, my first published pictures were in National Geographic, which was totally nuts!

Thank you

If I look at when I am happy, I am happiest when I am full of gratitude. Photography makes me stop, not only to big vistas, but to a leaf on the trail or a dew drop on a flower.

All of these pictures are little visual prayers. I think it’s important that we articulate that out loud. So, I wander around my garden in the morning saying "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you." That’s exposing my soul; that’s feeding me at a very deep level.

Affect on life

I published an ebook recently called, Art in My Life. I was getting at the idea that art and photography are a way of seeing; they are a way of looking at the world. The photograph is the residue of that; it’s what’s left over. It’s really good residue, and I like it. But if I don’t have the experience, if I don’t go out and connect with something, if I don’t see more deeply, then what was the point?

iPhone

My iPhone is with me all the time. It’s there as a little way to just stay more ALIVE.

I shoot all the time with it. I shoot things that I never would shoot with my big-boy cameras, because it would be too much of a hassle. All the tiny things of life, I shoot with my iPhone. Those images are now always with me, reminding me of what a cool thing it is to get to be conscious on this planet.

Advice

Follow the passion, because that not only is what’s going to give you your eye, but it’s also going to expose your soul, and that’s the whole point anyway.

What do you think of Dewitt's perspective? Please leave us a comment below.

Then, explore more of Dewitt's world at DewittJones.com and CelebrateWhatsRight.com

Watch the complete interview with Dewitt in the video at the top.

Alastair Humphreys - A Normal Person

I am a pretty normal person, really. I’m not a really strong person, I’m not very brave, and I realized that a lot of people thought of me as this adventurer.

Major adventures

I cycled around the world; it took me four years to do—46,000 miles through 60 countries. I’ve walked across India from coast to coast. I’ve rowed the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve been up in the Arctic in Greenland up near the magnetic North Pole on the Arctic Ocean. I’ve canoed across Iceland. Most recently, I just walked 1,000 miles across the Empty Quarter desert in the Arabian Peninsula. I do that sort of stuff.

More recently I’ve been doing little adventures around the UK. I call them microadventures. That’s the direction my adventures have been going the last couple of years—trying to encourage normal people to do something slightly different.

Adventure has been so important to me in my life, so I wanted to try and find a way to show that normal people—like, everyone—can also have adventures. The best way to have an adventure is by starting small. Start with something that’s within your skill level, your time level, your fitness level, your equipment level. If you want to be a good photographer, don’t worry about having a Canon Pro DSLR, go out and buy a $50 camera on ebay and just start taking photos. It’s that sort of principle.

5-to-9 thinking

The 9-to-5 defines people a lot. But it also limits people. People with real jobs can’t have adventure, because of their 9-to-5, 9-to-5, 9-to-5. That is a constraint; it’s a limitation in your life. But, if you flip it around in your head, instead of seeing a constraint, you try to see an opportunity. When you leave work at 5pm, you’ve then got freedom until 9 o’clock the next morning. So, instead of going home and watching rubbish TV, get out of town, go sleep a hill, cook on top of a fire, have a swim in the river in the morning, and get back to work by 9am. You can have adventures even in a small space of time such as that.

Advice on adventure and photography

  • The times when you don’t really want to get your camera out—when the sand is blowing and the rain is falling—that’s the time when you’ve got to get your camera out, and take the pain.
  • Most of the trips that I’ve done tend to involve having to get my camera serviced afterwards. Taking it down rivers, rowing the Atlantic Ocean—saltwater—these are terrible things for a camera.
  • Any idiot can be an adventurer, but being a photographer is more difficult. So, I think it makes sense to find a photographer and take him on an adventure rather than finding an adventurer and trying to teach him photography.ost of the trips that I’ve done tend to involve having to get my camera serviced afterwards. Taking it down rivers, rowing the Atlantic Ocean—saltwater—these are terrible things for a camera.

365

  • I think the best thing that I’ve done for my photography is when I decided to take a photograph every single day for a whole year. I put it up on Flickr, and that forced me to have a camera with me every day of the year. That taught me more than anything.
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What do you think? Please leave us a comment below. Experience more of Alastair's perspective on his website www.AlastairHumphreys.com, buy his book #Microadventures, then go sleep a hill!

Watch the complete interview with Alastair in the video at the top.