University of Washington Alumni Feature


There is a very nice spread in the University of Washington Alumni Magazine “COLUMNS” this month. The University is celebrating 2012 as their 150th Anniversary and featuring noteworthy Alumni.
Art Wolfe graduated in 1975. This spread also celebrates the beautiful and unique natural environment of the UW campus as only Art can see it.

>>VIEW – Columns Magazine Here

>>GALLERY – View even more images Art has taken on the UW campus

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Denis Glennon Workshop Observations

Photo: Denis Glennon

Australian businessman-turned-photographer Denis Glennon traveled to China with Art in April and his observations have been published in Better Digital Camera Magazine. More exciting yet, Denis & Art are planning a comprehensive seminar & workshop series in Australia & South Africa for March/April 2012. Details will be posted as soon as they are finalized.

>>About Denis

>>Magazine Article

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Workshop participant:Michael Rainwater

Michael Rainwater just got back from China with Art. His reflections:

Over thirteen days, we travelled to some of the most spectacular scenery in southeastern China – from the Yellow Mountains (Huang Shan) to the rice terraces of Yuan Yang to the Li River, near Guilin. We all came back with images that we are very happy with. I, for one, am ready to go back again, especially to the Yellow Mountains. Though we were able to catch glimpses of rural life in the hill tribe communities, it is obvious that China is changing and modernizing much faster than any of us expected. The time is approaching when it will be difficult to find the “old” China at all. This has been a wonderful experience that was greatly enriched by the instruction and guidance we received from both Art and Jay. These guys are masters.

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2010 – Year In Review

2010 started off with successful workshops in Southeast Asia.

I had special photo shoots for Epson and local Seattle television, as well as a pledge for Oregon Public Broadcasting.  I emceed a very profitable fundraising event for the Puget Soundkeepers Alliance, an organization that is working hard to keep the Puget Sound a viable and functioning ecosystem.

The International Conservation Photography Awards were kicked off with a special event at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall and then opened to great applause at the Burke Museum, which will host the event again in 2012.

I had gallery openings at the G2 in California and the Saxton Gallery in Ohio.  In my own gallery I opened the show “Unbridled”, featuring beautiful oversized prints of horses.

Throughout the year education continued to be a focus, with the Art of Composition tour and a four day workshop in the Grand Tetons. I taught a session at the Welt der Wunder Festival in Germany as well.

Wherever I went, I shot:  New York, California, at home in Washington State, including the Pride Parades in Seattle and Vancouver, BC.

Hinduism’s massive festival, the Kumbh Mela, was in Haridwar this year.  It was a crush of millions of people, it was oppressively hot, and infinitely fascinating and life-affirming.

In 2010 my public television show Travels to the Edge won five Telly Awards for excellence, and in October the Photographic Society of America honored me with the Progress Medal Award.  Outdoor Photographer magazine thrilled me by using my photo of the French Alps as the 25th anniversary cover.  Outdoor Photography magazine in the UK lauded me and 39 of the best nature photographers in the world for our conservation work.

I finished the year in Michoacan, Mexico, photographing the Day of the Dead festival for the first time and then headed off to Antarctica for the umpteenth time in December.

I wish everyone a healthy & prosperous 2011!

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Vanish Act – Can You See the Spruce Grouse?

Spruce grouse, Denali National Park, Alaska, USA

And last week’s blackbear:

Black Bear by Art Wolfe

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Weathered by Kah Kit Yoong
Weathered © Kah Kit Yoong

Kah Kit Yoong is a Melbourne-based travel and nature photographer. His background includes studies and qualifications in medicine and music. He was introduced to photography in 2005 while exploring the cobble stone streets of Italian towns. Later that year, he developed his skills while tramping the pristine wilderness of Tasmania. Kah Kit’s appreciation of the world’s wild places has inspired him to capture its landscapes. He has been widely published in numerous magazines, including National Geographic, Popular Photography and Nature’s Best. His work has been awarded both in his home country of Australia as well as in the UK and USA. This year he was a prize winner in the landscape category of the International Conservation Photography Awards, as well as receiving an honourable mention in the wildlife section. To view more of his photography visit his website News and more articles can be found on his new blog

Rhythm of the City by Kah Kit Yoong
Rhythm of the City © Kah Kit Yoong

Havana – a city of faded glories but still elegant in its decaying state. Nowhere is this more evident than the Prado, a marble-tiled, tree-lined avenue, surrounded by crumbling facades. It leads to another prominent feature of Havana, the Malecon, a roadway and seawall which stretches for 8 kilometres along the coast. In the afternoon, it will become a hub of activity for tourists and locals engaged in banter, people-watching, playing musical instruments or fishing. But this is dawn; the streets are almost empty save for the occasional vintage American car cruising past and the city is yet to rise from its slumber.

As I stroll down the Prado, I consider my options for my sunrise shoot. No doubt the Malecon at the end of the avenue would be an appealing subject. The rain clouds, responsible for the many puddles on the streets are starting to disperse and take on a pinkish hue. I am distracted by the brightness of some buildings at the end of a side street. The warm glow of sunrise is starting illuminate the taller buildings in the distance and my plans to proceed to the sea is abandoned in favour of exploring this part of the old city.

Kids at Condado by Kah Kit Yoong
Kids at Condado © Kah Kit Yoong

Very soon, I come across a beautiful green 54 Chevy. The building behind is in a state of dilapidation, rough exposed bricks showing where a facade had been stripped off. I shoot a few frames of the car juxtaposed against the bricks but what I really want to do is incorporate some of that gorgeous light filtering through the city. When I turn the corner, an even more striking red Chevy awaits, shiny and glistening with droplets after the overnight rain. This time, the effect of the first direct rays of the sun can now be seen on the distant buildings. My tripod is soon set up and I carefully make a composition. Several locals have stopped to watch me and a man in a blue T-shirt across the street appears staring intently at me. I take a few exposures, with shortening shutter speeds to make sure he is frozen in the frame.

Musicians by the Malecon by Kah Kit Yoong
Musicians by the Malecon © Kah Kit Yoong

I had heard that Cuba is a country seemingly in a time-warp, decades behind the Western civilization. Recent reports indicated that this would soon change. Hence, the time seemed ripe for a visit and I spent 12 days traveling around the country in 2009. It was a departure from the nature-based photography that I’m more familiar with. I knew that it would present an opportunity to shoot a wide range of subjects, extending my comfort zone and skills as a travel photographer.

State of Decay by Kah Kit Yoong
State of Decay © Kah Kit Yoong

One of the differences between a tourist and a travel photographer is the mindset in what they are trying to achieve with their images. The former usually takes photographs to preserve memories of the place as a way to document that they have been there. Their shots tell us the story about their trip. Travel photography, on the other hand, is about telling the story of the place. This may be from the photographer’s eyes but the best images feel as though we are seeing the place through those of a local. I don’t believe that you can truly capture the essence of a location in a single photo, but with a portfolio of images I think that is achievable. Certain images may go a long way in revealing the broad character of a place while others may only focus on very specific details. However seeing the images as a visual storyboard, the viewer should be able to get a good feel for the location, replacing the words of a description like the one above.

Dawn in Old Havana by Kah Kit Yoong
Dawn in Old Havana © Kah Kit Yoong

Since taking up photography, I have found that my senses are heightened when exploring a new city or country. I notice things on a grand scale as well as those small details that might have eluded me previously. There’s a process of deconstruction that I run through mentally : city, skyline, buildings, doorways and bricks. Or perhaps : traffic, car park, car, driver, bonnet, wheel, windows, etc. All of these may make suitable subjects in their own way. At the end of it all, by putting the images into a portfolio, the pieces are reconstructed to form a cohesive representation of the whole. I also find that photographing a wide cross-section of my subjects to be a useful and rewarding endeavour. As an example of this approach, when shooting portraits, I was sure to include both sexes in all the age groups : children, teenagers, adults and the elderly. The people of Cuba were very friendly and open to having their portraits taken so this became a major part of my portfolio.

Glory to God in the Highest by Kah Kit Yoong
Glory to God in the Highest © Kah Kit Yoong

Planning a shot list is an important part of putting together a visual storyboard. These may include specific subjects. My list for Cuba would have looked something like this : vintage cars, side streets, cobblestones, peeling facade, old men playing boardgames, doorways, rocking chairs, Malecon at sunset, musicians, instruments, hands, cigars, person smoking, factory worker, Coco taxi, farm animals, architecture, etc. Some of these are quite specific while other like cars are less so and benefit from a broader approach. I ended up with numerous Chevy images, including wide shots from numerous angles while other images focused on various components of the cars. For a different perspective, I took a few from a viewpoint behind the driver and experimented with panning moving vehicles as well as using slow shutter speeds while sitting in a Coco taxi to convey movement and speed. Other items on my shot list included concepts, ideas or feelings. Some examples : children having fun, rhythm, energy, the simple life, decay. Periodically, I made time to review all the photos that I have taken. I recall doing this the night before my last full day in Havana and realized that none of my images adequately conveyed ‘decay’. The afternoon, while exploring the old town, I pushed open the door to a set of apartments and found the exact scene I was looking for. It required some discipline not to photograph the brilliant sunset over the bay but from my image review the night before, I knew that I would have been going over old ground. It was with great satisfaction that I was able to shoot this last scene on a dilapidated staircase, knowing that it completed the story I wanted to tell about Cuba.

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In Praise of the Intimate Landscape – Guy Tal

Guy Tal is a photographer, writer, and blogger based in Utah’s scenic canyon country. You can find more of his photography and essays on his web site, or visit his gallery located in the town of Torrey, UT just outside Capitol Reef National Park. You may also follow him on Twitter at @guytalphoto.

Guy Tal - In Praise of Intimate Landscapes - 1
Guy Tal - In Praise of Intimate Landscapes - 1

In Praise of the Intimate Landscape

By Guy Tal

Though I didn’t know it at the time, 1979 was to be a significant year in my growth as a photographic artist. More than that, it was a landmark year for all contemporary landscape photographers, and for the acceptance of color photography as a fine art. On that year, I celebrated my 10th birthday against the backdrop of a historic Middle East peace treaty, the election of Margaret Thatcher, and the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. Back then, I had no inkling of such concepts as exposure or composition, or even how to operate a camera. I lived in a world thousands of miles away from the places I will later come to call home, and was entirely unaware of their turbulent role in the American conservation movement. More pertinent to this article: on that same year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York held its first ever exhibition of color photography, celebrating the work of a quiet and passionate man in his late 70s with whom I later discovered I shared many similarities. The man was Eliot Porter, and the exhibit was titled: Intimate Landscapes.

Guy Tal - In Praise of Intimate Landscapes - 2
Guy Tal - In Praise of Intimate Landscapes - 2

What was it about Porter’s color images that prompted an institution such as The Met to feature, for the first time ever, color photography among its vast collection of art, some as old as humanity itself? What made them so moving and powerful that, decades later, Porter’s work continues to inspire new generations of photographers? The answer lies in the title: intimacy. Much landscape photography sets out to document grand scenes and vast expanses, prominent land features, big skies, distant horizons, and dazzling displays of natural light at the borders of day and night. Such images draw their force from the sheer magnitude of the elements portrayed and the attention-commanding brilliance of magnificent color. Yet, such images also reduce the photographer and the viewer to passive bystanders – observers of the unfolding drama but not active participants. Intimacy, on the other hand, implies a degree of involvement, closeness, and familiarity that transcend anonymity. It implies a personal, emotional interpretation of the things being photographed and the unique qualities they possess which drew the photographer’s eye.

Guy Tal - In Praise of Intimate Landscapes - 3
Guy Tal - In Praise of Intimate Landscapes - 3

Among the more cynical, a common quip is that “everything had been done before,” and that there’s little opportunity left for original work in nature photography. The notion of intimacy with the landscapes flies in the face of such statements. Certainly mountains, canyons, sand dunes, and beaches, have all been photographed many times before and, with the wide lens on, even the best of us would find it difficult to distinguish their work from any number of other renditions of these same subjects. Yet, go up in focal length, and begin exploring a subject deliberately, up close, in earnest, with no preconception, and you will find an endless array of graceful lines, patterns, subtle variations of color and tone, and any number of unique traits. Intimate landscapes thus readily lend themselves to original creative work, and to the much-desired development of the artist’s personal style. The success of an intimate landscape depends primarily on the subjective sensibilities of the artist, rather than an objective representation of a place.

Guy Tal - In Praise of Intimate Landscapes - 4
Guy Tal - In Praise of Intimate Landscapes - 4

Many photographers are also under the mistaken assumption that “it’s all about the light,” or that great landscape images must be made within the narrow span of the “magic hours”. Not so. Light takes on many shades and colors, at every hour and on every scale. In the middle of the day, one can find a golden glow in the small crevices of a rock or among the petals of flowers. On overcast days, the land reflects in faint pastels. Even in near-darkness, long exposures can capture fleeting light for surreal effect. In the case of intimate landscape photography, it is the artist’s attention to detail that allows them to expand their repertoire and find nuggets of beauty in practically any situation, with almost any subject and any light.

Guy Tal - In Praise of Intimate Landscapes - 5
Guy Tal - In Praise of Intimate Landscapes - 5

Lastly, going back to Eliot Porter’s legacy, one cannot ignore the subject of photography’s role in conservation and in raising awareness to unseen beauty. In particular, some of Porter’s most important images were made in Glen Canyon, remembered by some as the heart of the Colorado Plateau, prior to it being drowned under current-day Lake Powell. By the time Porter’s images of the place became known, it was too late to prevent the loss of what was a natural treasure on the magnitude of the Grand Canyon and other crown jewels of the American West. David Brower, legendary former director of the Sierra Club, later lamented its loss as the greatest one of his career. To date, the story of Glen Canyon galvanizes the American conservation movement as a loss that should not be repeated, and Porter’s images of what he later called “The Place No One Knew” are among the most powerful testaments to what’s at stake. They illustrate not a generic “pretty place” but rather moving portraits of a place that had a name and a character: rock patterns composed such that one can almost feel their grit under their fingertips, crystalline pools reflecting golden light with such clarity that you can almost feel their warmth on your face, and riparian vegetation vibrant and detailed that you can almost breathe its aromatic scent. Such is the power of intimate landscapes.

Guy Tal - In Praise of Intimate Landscapes - 6
Guy Tal - In Praise of Intimate Landscapes - 6
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Jim Goldstein Interviews Art About the Age of Digital

BLOG: Migrations – Images by Art Wolfe

Photographer, writer, and podcast producer Jim Goldstein spent a little time interviewing Art about the current status of digital photography.

Jim Goldstein

As more people take an interest in photography, the debate seems to surface frequently to the merits of using digital technology to enhance wildlife, nature and landscape photographs. It’s been over twelve years since the Atlantic released its article “Photography in the Age of Falsification” and yet much debate on this issue persists. Whether you call it digital editing, photo manipulation or photo fakery, I thought it might be of interest to a wide audience of photographers to revisit this topic with you.

Question number one, back when you put together Migrations, the book that was the heart of controversy in the mid to late ‘90s, what was the motivation to create digitally altered photos at this time?

Art Wolfe

You know, what I maintained back there, and you say it’s ten years or 12 years. Anyway, what I maintain when I debated my critics, I have never waivered. I have never waivered on what I said. I found that digital, and we called it digital illustration, right from the get-go, right in the opening paragraphs introducing this body of work, that there are different places and usages of content – whether it’s pure photography, enhanced photography, artistic photography, and what I tried to do is bridge the gap between artistic photography and nature photography. I believe I pushed the boundaries as any artist actually should do and grow through the experience. I maintained that what we were digitally illustrating was natural and not falsifying numbers. And in most cases, in that book, it was taking one or two elements and changing or filling in the gaps of sheer numbers.

For instance, it was, you know, swarms of bees or flocks of birds or herds of mammals, and we were just filling some open spaces to complete a pattern because this truly was what the book was about. It was an artistic designee book about patterns in nature. Had I called it ‘Wallpaper’ it probably would not have been as controversial as it became. It’s interesting to note that designers and art critics throughout the world rallied around the book while some photographers took exception with it and downright condemned it. I think had we not introduced it openly and honestly in the beginning of the book and called some of the contents “digital illustrations” we would be really held up for criticism. But had – since we did do that I debated very vociferously that what we were doing was fine.

Jim Goldstein

Okay, that’s great. Even though as you were quoted as saying “Out of the million photos I’ve done, less than two hundred have digital components, I am still not using the technology all that often.” Why was creating digitally altered photos considered so controversial?

Art Wolfe

I think that people have this perception and certainly within the bastions of nature photographers, there’s this perception that photography is real, and that whatever you aim the camera at is a pure recording of reality and I’ve never maintained that. I’ve never maintained that whatever I was photographing was absolutely real. I could alter its content by compression through the use of telephoto lenses, I could conversely distort the angles by using wide angles, I could change the color depending on the film I chose, I could change the reality of the image by what I chose to include in the composition and exclude in the composition.

For instance, if there was a telephone pole along a beautiful patch of forest if I just simply zoomed in, and eliminated it from within the frame, it would just imply purity and pristineness. So I’ve always looked at photography as no different than any other medium of artistic endeavor. We have so much control and photography has always been really a reflection of how the artist could use that tool. I think Ansel Adams was exemplified – the fact that he could take an image and through the black and white process, burning and dodging in the zone system, really make that image, that perhaps was very bland in initial capture, and turning it into something magnificent and artistic. Had he been alive today he would definitely have embraced the digital technology.

Jim Goldstein

What lessons – what lessons were learned that you could share with other photographers that relate to the current state of wildlife, nature and landscape photography?

Art Wolfe

Certainly what I learned from this whole process is some of the people that had the most vigorous debates with me were not all that agitated over the use of digital illustrations, and I – I refuse to this day to recall it manipulation, I think that the very word implies something derogatory or negative. I think even the word ‘altered’ implies something different than what I was trying to do. Certainly what I’ve learned is the press would write without quotes, would write without confirmation and often – and this is a very small part of the press I might add, the very conservative [indiscernible] Monthly or U.S. News and World Report, would not have access to me, because I was travelling in South America at the time, and they simply filled in what they think I would have represented which was often far from the truth. So I’ve learned that the press is often not, you know, waylaid by truth. They will print what they think is correct and stand by those words.

Jim Goldstein

What are your feelings on the terms photo manipulation versus digitally altered versus digitally enhanced? Is there an undertone that you think is fair, or more accurate other term than another?

Art Wolfe

I should be clear that I have led the way, I think, through the whole debate, that identification is key. If I know that I’m looking at a work that has been digitally illustrated, then I would look at the work somewhat differently than had I not been informed. I think the legitimate criticism of Migrations was on the fact that we didn’t identify each and every image that had been altered or illustrated. And I think that’s a legitimate concern, it was something that we went into eyes wide open. We debated within my staff on how to present this work because do we in fact just ‘carte blanche’ as we chose to do, introduce this book as containing it or do we try to illustrate or identify every element that had been changed within a photo. And there was, out of a book of a hundred images, there were no more than 30 images that had some sort of change. And some were radical and most were very innocuous, something that most people would hardly even register. And so, rather than illustrating what was done in every photo and the idea was to avoid making this a book of “How to’s” we simply looked at this book as an art book based on nature, and we thought that if everybody understood that this book contained illustrations, they would just look at the work as a body of work and a body of art. And many people did look at that, because they’re actually intellectual, but there were certainly a lot of people that loved to see the world in black and white which I’ve never done.

And so, I think I’ve – since that I actually insisted that Getty changes the way they label photographs that had been changed or altered, if you will, through the digital process. Certainly, I created a handful of images after Migrations that were purely commercial in nature. They were combining two very radically different elements into a final illustration. It was pretty obvious that that had been done and that was sold strictly to advertising and yet within the edge of the image it was embedded “this is a digital illustration” and Getty adopted that as identification, probably for the next five to ten years. I think that whole resolve and issue has kind of subsided as people have seen all sorts of incarnations of digital illustration or altering. I remember clearly a lot of the debate was not so much the exception of how I introduced it and what I did, but they – a lot of the ‘naysayers’ said that this would inevitably lead to people going overboard with it and to not identify what they were doing and to sell it as real nature which was never our intent.

There has been a handful of photographers that have created pure fantasy and tried to palm it off as being real, so I never believed that that was possible but people have done it and so I was proven wrong. I would argue that they would have done it whether I did Migrations or not.

Jim Goldstein

Is there a term you prefer used over another and you’ve already said that you prefer digital illustration over any other. Given your background as a fine art painter prior to photography, how does photography fit in with your perception of art?

Art Wolfe

Well in fact I teach quite regularly the connection between art and photography. I show through demonstrations and fairly lengthy thought out lectures how I make a connection between impressionists as painters and photography through abstract expressionism and photography, I draw largely from the art world to find – help me find and define my subjects. So I’ve completely given over to the art world in the realm of photography and in fact in more recent works I’m blending the two. I actually do paintings and photography of the same subject, combining those two medium. So I’m not, you know, a naturalist. I should say I’m actually a naturalist because I certainly know what I’m photographing but I don’t try to come from a naturalist bent to the work that I do.

Jim Goldstein

Taking this question one step further, how does digital editing lend itself in your eyes to photography as art?

Art Wolfe

Okay, let me take a stab at it. I mean I will be the first to say that since the book Migrations, just a handful of photos have been illustrated digitally where, if we’re very clear what we’re talking about here, where we’re bringing in two very different elements into a final proposition, that has a very small part of what I do, a very small part. In fact, I can’t even remember how many years ago since the last one we created. It was a specific project, Migrations, did it moved on from there to some illustrations for Getty, and beyond that it’s just one book out of a career of 30 years and 60 books. And, so, probably the last ten books there’s been no reason – or no reason to actually include digital illustrations within the pages of the book. It’s not that I was firmly rebuked, it’s just that identifying a appropriate place for that. Migrations was, again, a art book based on nature and that’s why we – and that’s what we said in the Introduction. I think that if we’re talking about digital enhancing colors, certainly every single digital capture I take, goes through a series of adjustments, whether we’re boosting the contrast and the levels and saturating the color a little bit to resemble the film that I wound up using during the last five or six years of my film taking. It was Velvia, and so a digital capture is somewhat flat compared to that and we just restore it to look closer to the film that we liked.

Jim Goldstein

For those who find this debate of constant curiosity, what do you feel is the most important take – sorry, most important take away to remember as they evolve as photographers?

Art Wolfe

Well, I mean I think it’s how they see themselves. The photographers purely see themselves as natural history photographers, recording the rapidly diminishing natural world. I don’t see a real natural place to use digital illustration. If you’re a photographer that loves the art, and you’re making art work for art galleries, I think everything is subject to interpretation. So it really depends on, I wouldn’t consider using a natural history photo to build a campaign to preserve this environment or that. So I believe that there’s a perception of purity in the capture. Even withstanding what I said earlier about how you can really alter the impression of the environment through choice of lens, and angle, and composition, I still think we know what we’re talking about here. If it’s digital illustration, where you are combining elements, I don’t see a logical place for that to appear in any kind of natural history preservation campaign. So two different uses depending on what you want to do with it.

Jim Goldstein

Do you feel there would be any differing takeaways for editors, gallery curators, et cetera?

Art Wolfe

Well, you know, I think that this debate about digital illustration versus “purity” has been lost on many of the young editors that have come into the field in our magazine editors these days. I find that many of these young editors have a very minimal background in natural history knowledge, and so consequently, you know, photographers that create fantasy can probably get those photos often passed and the editor’s notice, and I’ve been one of the first people to rise up against that and to criticize the photographer for not being truthful to the editor and for the editor for not simply knowing what they’re publishing.

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Today we have a guest post by Younes Bounhar a talented photographer and writer from Canada. For more information on Younes visit his website and blog.

© Younes Bounhar

A quick glance on any photography forum and you will soon realize that while there are a few photographers who have a clear identifiable style, most photographs are very similar as if cooked in the same pot. As in every discipline, most enthusiasts start out by trying to emulate the work of the great masters. That often translates into copying the style, the compositions even the locations (ever heard the expression “tripod holes”?) that these masters have, well, mastered. However, as you delve deeper into your art, you start wondering where you should go with your photography after you have photographed your favourite icons and followed the footsteps of the Muenchs, Wolfes or Rowells of this world. Even from a professional standpoint, given the intense competition in the field, how do you set yourself apart from the next photographer? So how do you develop your own, unique style? While there is no magic solution or standard answer, here is a little food for thought to help point you in the right direction.

© Younes Bounhar

1-    Study the work of other artists

You are probably, wondering what on earth I am talking about since I have just said that you have to try and develop your own style. First, when I talk about artists, I mean it in a general sense, not just photographers, but painters, architects and designers. Painters can teach you how they handle light, what makes a good composition. Architects will show you the power of curves, lines and patterns. In the work of designers you can learn how to combine colours to convey your message. By getting acquainted with the work of other artists, you will seamlessly incorporate some of the elements that they use into your own photographs and have a more deliberate and controlled approach to your art.

© Younes Bounhar

2-    Get off the beaten path

As a landscape photographer, I often find myself drawn to the so-called “photographic icon”. Who hasn’t dreamt of shooting Mesa Arch, Antelope Canyon or Horseshoe bend? While these icons for obvious reasons, our planet has no shortage of stunning, photogenic locations. While most photographers are content with “roadside” photo opportunities, the most rewarding locations are those that are seldom visited or secluded. In addition to coming out with some unique shots, you also get to experience nature at its best. There is nothing more rewarding than waking up in the middle of nowhere, knowing that there is just you and Mother Nature around.

© Younes Bounhar

3-    Try something different

When I first dabbled into photography all I cared about was landscape, all I shot was landscape. Since I don’t live in photo icon hotzone, I quickly spent the photogenic potential of my area and found myself out of new things to photograph. My next decision proved to be instrumental in developing my skills. As I have better access to urban zones, I thought that I could shoot buildings and urban areas in a self-imposed assignment to improve my eye for lines and patterns. Not only have I discovered an exciting area of photography, but the skills I learned photographing buildings have been central to my landscape/nature photography as well. As I become more apt at capturing patterns in buildings, it became easier to see and frame photo opportunities in nature. That said, you don’t have to change disciplines to “try something different”. All you need to do is get slightly out of your comfort zone, and learn to see the world differently. If you shoot wide-angle scenics exclusively, trade your wide-angle lens for your telephoto or macro lenses and aim for more intimate nature photography. Inversely, if you are more at ease with a telephoto, trade it for a wide-angle.

© Younes Bounhar

4-    Break the rules

One of the main drivers of uniformity in photographs is our tendency to want to follow rules. Obviously, these rules exist for a reason and do come in handy at times. That said, you have to learn to think outside of the box if you want to take your photography to another level. Your gut tells you to use the rule of thirds? Don’t listen and put your horizon right in the middle. The magic hour only happens at dawn and dusk, right? Does that mean you can’t take amazing shots during the remaining 23 hours of the day? Certainly not! I have seen amazing pictures taken right at noon, others, in the middle of the night. Basically, just keep your mind open for possibilities and don’t restrict yourself simply because it is a “rule”.

5-    Take photography workshops

I have been very fortunate to attend an Art Wolfe workshop a few months ago and I have to admit that it has had a tremendous impact on my approach to photography. Again, the idea here is not to go out there and replicate everything your instructor does or tells you. Instead, you should watch and listen carefully to the way he or she approaches their art. It can be really an eye-opening experience when you are looking at a scene that inspires you nothing, and have someone come in and show you five or six different ways to look at it! You may not like everything you are told; in fact, you could even dismiss some of it. However, back on the field, once on your own, you can surprise yourself identifying photo opportunities that you wouldn’t have noticed before.

While I hope these pointers may have been of some help, there is one last element I would like to stress: just remember why you are into this in the first place and make sure you enjoy what you do. Keep the passion alive, and you are sure to succeed in whatever you set your mind to!

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