Mendocino, California native Justin Lewis was nurtured in the raw and rustic Pacific Northwest, where he honed a keen eye for capturing images that instill wonder and inspire action. Having traveled to over forty five countries and featured in many major global magazines, Justin has woven his photography career seamlessly into his lifestyle of exploration and conservation. As an artist, Justin finds inspiration in beauty, and finds beauty in nature.
Justin has spent the last two years dedicating his life to an eight phase photo-documentary project called 70 Degrees West. The project follows a single line of longitude from Greenland to Antarctica, illustrating the impact our modern civilization has on fragile eco-regions and cultures who dwell there. His photography hopes to expand global awareness of environments at risk by capturing the extreme landscape while also giving a voice to the battles each region faces both environmentally and socially. For more information, including slide shows and two video shorts, visit www.70degreeswest.com For more of Justin Lewis’s photography, visitwww.justinlewis.com
Here are a few images from Phase I – Greenland: Thule Hunter
It is said that Greenland’s Inuit name, Kalaallit Nunaat, means “The Land of Man.” To the Greenlandic natives, it is home, where the dark days and sunlit nights demand the human spirit to endure at all costs. Here, a sled driver and dog team rest for a moment under the arch of a looming translucent blue iceberg frozen in the sea ice.
The life of a dog sled driver is one of patience and discipline. Nine Greenlandic Arctic dogs rest during a long trek across the ice. Greenlandic Arctic sled dogs are only exist north of the Arctic Circle and found no where else in the world.
The magic of Northern Greenland’s midnight sun is filled with stunning beauty and extreme isolation. This image was taken at 3 o’clock in the morning where a tidal pond formed on the surface of the sea ice. Salt water was forced up through cracks in the sea ice as the oceans tide came up.
Spring time comes to Ilulissat, Greenland and the fisherman begin to venture out into the recently broken chunks of looming sea ice. Eager to get out fishing, some fisherman launch their boats into the Arctic waters, delicately navigating through chunks and sheets of ice.
Thomas Martika Qujaukitsoq was born in Qaanaaq, Greenland, one of the northern most municipalities in the world. He wears a reindeer jacket his grandmother hand-stitched for him when he was a young man. Although he has hunted extensively through the surrounding landscape, he has never traveled to any other part of the world. His home is Qaanaaq, his life is that of hunting, fishing, and driving his dog sled. He says, “I drive my dog sled because it is my culture and my life. It will always be like that.”
During the warmer months, massive icebergs calve from the glacier head and slowly drift through vast fjords. Certain icebergs can float for many years, very slowly melting and breaking into smaller chunks of ice.
I had the chance to take a chilly dive under the sea ice during our photo expedition in Ilulissat, Greenland. Dressed in a dry suit and specialized arctic gear, it was ethereal and thrilling. Having a ceiling of ice above me and no sight of a sea floor, it felt other-worldly.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!