Q & A with David Swindler

David Swindler is a passionate landscape and wildlife photographer and outdoor enthusiast. After working for 10 years, he quit his day job to follow his true passion: photography. As you’ll find out, David does amazing work utilizing natural light and avoiding over-the-top digital effects. David has also recently launched a successful workshop program. We got the inside story of why he quit his job and what it takes to start leading workshops.Fly Geyser Aerial View 

You graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering and worked for 10 years as a semiconductor engineer and now you’re a photographer. How did that happen?

Yes, it’s certainly a big change of pace for me. My specialty in the semiconductor industry was photolithography where we use multi-million dollar optics to print small patterns that later become the circuitry on computer chips. While working in this capacity, I began to see many parallels with photography. Thus, photography came very easy to me with my background in optics.

When I wasn’t at work, I loved to explore the great outdoors. While visiting spectacular locations, I would often wish I could share it with my friends back home. I got an entry-level camera and started taking it with me. It wasn’t long before I realized I needed better equipment and skills to truly convey the beauty of outdoor landscapes. I became an avid photography student and it wasn’t long before I was traveling around the world with my camera gear in tow.

During the last recession, my company offered a voluntary severance package. I decided that I was done with the desk job and wanted to pursue my photography more aggressively. Since I really liked teaching and helping other people, I quit my job and started offering guided photography trips and workshops.Palouse River Canyon Milky Way

What is it that draws you to landscape and wildlife photography?

My love of the outdoors is what draws me to landscape and wildlife photography. I’ve been an avid outdoor enthusiast ever since my days as a boy scout. There is just something so magical about dramatic scenery, vivid sunsets, roaring waterfalls, deep canyons and majestic mountains that keeps me coming back again and again. The fact that I can capture that magic with my camera makes it just that much better! Mother Nature is so amazing – sometimes I can scarce believe the beauty I witness around me.

With wildlife, I’ve always enjoyed the challenge. Everything has to come together just right – you have to be able to get close enough to the animal, the light needs to be good, and the foreground/background should be non-distracting. You have to be patient, quick on the draw, and have solid technique. It’s always such a rush for me when I nail a good wildlife image!

What are three of the most important things you have learned from your experiences?

1) Prior planning is essential. The weather doesn’t always cooperate, so having a backup plan is essential. What time of year is best? What gear should I bring? Should I go for sunrise, sunset, or night? Are there particular behaviors about the wildlife I need to know? I could go on and on. Most of my best photographs weren’t accidental – they were planned with a particular vision and Mother Nature just happened to cooperate!

2) Post-processing skills are essential to success as a nature/wildlife photographer. I’m constantly learning new post-processing skills and techniques. I’m often shocked how much better I can make an image look now compared to what I could do a few years ago. If I had the time, I’d love to go back and reprocess a lot of my old images.

3) Get off the beaten path and don’t be afraid to experiment. With so many people toting around cameras these days, you need to find unique ways to express your vision. Try a new lens or lighting technique, find a unique vantage point, hike somewhere that’s less accessible, go during a different season of the year, etc.

Scotland SunriseWho have you looked to for inspiration? Why?

I’ve always looked up to many incredible landscape photographers – whether it be following their work online or meeting them at a local camera club meeting. Photography is definitely a collaborative effort as we seek to inspire and educate each other.

You started leading workshops in 2014. What were the hardest things about getting started? Do you have any advice for photographers trying to do the same?

You’re definitely right that it’s hard to get started! The most difficult thing is figuring out how to market yourself effectively without spending a ton of money. I’ve learned a lot about marketing and still have much more to learn. Next, there’s plenty of red tape you have to go through to get commercial permits from agencies like the NPS, Fish & Game, BLM, etc. It can take considerable time and expense to secure necessary permits to conduct tours. There were many places where I wanted to do tours, but ended up not doing it because the permit requirements and expenses were too rigorous. Finally, many of my tours are nearly all-inclusive. That means I also have to be expert in planning lodging, food, and transportation. There’s much more to doing tours than just being a good photographer and teacher!

Siblings at Play

What upcoming workshops do you have?

Scotland Highlands and Western Isles: April 26-May 10.
Palouse Harvest: Aug 11-16
Mt Rainier Wildflowers: Aug 17-21
Alaskan Polar Bears and Artic Wildlife: Sept 24-Oct 3.
Dates To Be Announced Soon:
Utah Wildflowers and Wildlife (first week of Aug)
Canadian Rockies and Wildlife (mid Sept)
Alaska Bald Eagles and Dall Sheep (mid Nov)
Wyoming Bighorn Sheep Rut (early Dec)
I always offer private tours to Utah and Alaska upon request.

You can learn more about David’s workshops and see more of his images at: actionphototours.com

Rainier Snow Cave

Q & A With Blair Phillips Photography

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While growing up, there was no opportunity in Blair Phillips’ household for future advancement; no further education after high school, no parenting, and definitely no dreams of a flourishing career. Between multiple family households and parents, his childhood life was a constant roller-coaster. After living with his paternal grandparents for a significant time period, who both passed away when he was a junior in high school, Blair had to finish educating himself through high school. He worked 40 hours a week at a local grocery store while finishing his senior year in high school. Finances were so bad that even senior pictures were not an option and most of his time off was spent juggling work and school, having no social life as a normal teenager.

Reason for the short story above is to give you an idea of where the motivation and creativity comes from in Blair’s images. Blair’s business began 8 short years ago and since then, Blair Phillips Photography has become a household name that people in his community, and from several states away, have come to know and adore. Each year Blair has photograph between 40-60 weddings and 600+ studio sessions. In a small, economically deprives mill town of 3,100 and before the age of 30, accomplishment is an understatement!

Photographers are hungry for Blair’s creative eye behind the lens. Blair is known for his innovative lighting, posing, and flow of imagery, which has been a topic of conversation sparked between both novice and seasoned photographers. He has a passion to teach other photographers how to express themselves in ways not found in traditional training, which has been described as eclectic elegance. His style and positive energy is devoted to educate and inspire photographers to move towards a modern, fashionable approach, while keeping true to themselves.  Because of his sought-after content and unique teaching style, Blair has had the opportunity to educate photographers all over the United States including 4 consecutive years at WPPI, The WPPI Road Trip, WPPI U, SPA, SYNC Seniors, various state PPA affiliations and most recently, Imaging USA. Blair also hosts a quarterly workshop entitled “Break The Mold” at his Landis, NC studio which has become increasingly popular, selling out with every event.

Blair Phillips has so much to offer fellow photographers. Blair has a sincere desire to see other photographers inspired to grow in business as he has. Blair has a young team who strive towards fresh ideas, and those who hear them will be inspired to break out of their mold. Blair doesn’t want to teach people his way, but rather inspire everyone and have them discover what it means to break out of the mold to a more fashionable tomorrow.

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Blair and Suzanne Phillips

Tamrac: How did you get into photography?
Blair: Blind luck.  I have always been a very visual type individual, and it all began when I started carrying a point and shoot camera with me everywhere.  I would see neat and intriguing things that I felt were worthy of capture.  I began taking media cards to a local drug store lab for processing where a lab technician gave me encouragement to pursue photography as more than a mere hobby.  I took her advice and the rest was history.

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Tamrac: What is the one piece of camera equipment you always take with you?
Blair: A strobe light.  I have learned strobe lighting inside and out, and it allows me to manipulate any environment to fit my needs.

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Tamrac: You shoot seniors, families, newborns and weddings.  What do you like most about each one and do you have a favorite between them? Or is it too hard to choose?
Blair: I love creating genuine conversations and building relationships.  Seniors are one of the most enjoyable outlets for me due to the complete creative freedom you can have with them.  Newborns are also really high on my list.  I am very sensitive and compassionate, so working with the delicate nature of babies fits me very well.  Since the birth of my daughter, I have cut the weddings back to only 10 per year.  My family has to come first and foremost.

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Tamrac
: Things have come a long way since I was a senior in high school where we just got our yearbook photo taken.  Where do you come up with all the crazy, unusual settings for your senior shoots?  Do the seniors give you input for what they want or do you create the shoot on your own?  What do they then do with their images?
Blair: I use to travel to random locations for seniors.  The constant driving all over the place got really old, really quick.  I decided to build my very own senior oasis equipped with over 30 different sets that are always available.  This way I am in complete control and have enough to fit any style.  My seniors give me input on their outfit choices and that is pretty much it.  We have marketed and branded our studio in a way that client’s give us complete freedom to do whatever we see fit.  The majority of our senior clients still purchase wall portraits, an album, gift prints, and wallets.

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Blair’s “Senior Oasis”

Tamrac: You do a lot of workshops on a variety of different topics.  What is your favorite thing to teach that you think every starting photographer needs to learn?
Blair: Lighting, lighting, lighting.  Learning lighting gives you so much control of every press of your shutter.  Lighting is one of the concrete fundamentals that most photographers don’t tackle right away.  It can be intimidating, but I have a clever way of breaking it down so people will understand it in ten minutes.  Lighting is the root of all photographs.

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Tamrac: What was your favorite image you took in the last year?
Blair:  There has never been a tougher question for me.  I do well over 500 studio session, as well as a lot of volume photography.  It would literally be impossible for me to pick.

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Tamrac: What Tamrac gear do you use?
Blair: With all of my traveling, I would be lost without my Tamrac gear bags.  Some of my most important pieces are the Super Rolling Studio Bags (Model 662) and the Ultra Pro 13 (Model 5613).  For airplane travel I sometimes rely on the hefty Expedition 8x (Model 5588).  For weddings I love my Cyberpack Roller (Model 5267). With Tamrac, I feel certain that I will wear out long before any of my Tamrac bags.

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Blair’s Ultra Pro 13 with his gear

Tamrac: What do you love about your Tamrac bags?
Blair: The sheer quality and design.  Tamrac knows exactly what we need as a photographer and have a rock solid solution for all of my carry needs.

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Blair in his studio shooting a video on his Tamrac bags

Click here to see Blair’s video (from photo above) on his Tamrac Bags.

For more information on Blair and Suzanne and their work, please visit their links: Website: www.blairphillipsphotography.com
Facebook:
www.facebook.com/blairphillipsphotography
Facebook: www.facebook.com/blairphillipsworkshops
Instagram: @blair_phillips
Twitter: @bpphotography
Email: blair@blairphillipsphotography.com

 

 

 

 

Q & A with Mark Dimalanta

_igp2965 (2)“I spent most of my life learning the art of healing. The best thing I ever learned was to heal the soul and go back to my roots. These days, I spend my days surfing and shooting those who surf…”

Mark Dimalanta is a native Californian who loves photography but lives to surf. While earning his medical degree from the University of the East in 2001, the digital photography revolution prompted the young doctor to return to his roots as a photojournalist of more than 20 years.

The Doc who put down his stethoscope to pick up his camera and chase surfers exploring the world has returned home to Southeast Asia to document the booming board riding culture.

Mark has shot with practically everything that can record an image, but always maintains a preference for his Pentax.  Utilizing the virtues that set Pentax apart from the rest like weather-sealed durability, intuitive ergonomics, and the compact nature of the entire system, Mark uses his tools to capture the imagery of the extreme sports lifestyle. While traveling, he entrusts his gear to the efficient protection that only Tamrac carrying systems provide.

Presently he is a contributing photographer and features writer for Lonely Planet Magazine, Digital Photographer, Mabuhay Magazine and the Philippine Star Lifestyle.  He is also the Managing Director of Alon Philippines, a Travel & Lifestyle Magazine centered around Australasia.

mark dimalanta photo-0390lrTamrac: You used to be a doctor, and now you’re a photographer.  How did that happen?
MarkI sustained an injury which challenged my mobility and ability to stand for long periods of time.  I wasn’t sure I’d be able to handle the strains of Clinical Medicine until my complete recovery.  During my rehab, I kept busy by rekindling my passion for photography. Although I was unable to practice the sports, I relived them by shooting them.  When I fully recovered, I hit a fork in the road and picked up the camera and left the stethoscope behind me. The rest is history. :)

bernice parsons for pentax imaginglrTamrac: What is the one piece of camera equipment you always take with you?
MarkFor the flexibility, I always have the Pentax MX-1.  It’s a pocket point and shoot that has a retro feel harking back to the old “Peter Parker” Chrome and black leather analog SLRs.  It allows me to shoot a wide variety of subjects, without the bulk of an SLR.

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Tamrac: You shoot for Lonely Planet travel guides.  What are some of your favorite places you’ve traveled working on these guides?
Mark:  Travel and tourism is booming in Southeast Asia.  It was an honor to share my Travel anecdotes and images for the Lonely Planet Brand. My region of specialty is the Philippine Islands.  I handled the beach destinations which offered paradise packed with varied ranges of surf from the beginner to professional quality waves.

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Kapuluan Vista, Maira Ira Coast of Pagudpud

My favorite Destination assignment is the region of Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte, Luzon Island. Lonely Planet named the region as one of the best beaches on Earth.

Tamrac: You’re an avid surfer, as well as a surf photographer.  When you’re photographing big waves, is it hard for you to sit back and not paddle out?  And when you surf, do you think about what it would look like as a photograph?
Mark: I love both disciplines, but so early in my career I blew perfect photo ops by surfing instead of shooting.  I’ve come to realize that I actually enjoy the reward of shooting instead of the act of surfing.  Shooting allows me to preserve the moment permanently with an image that can be shared the world over.          usopen 2008Tamrac: What advice would you give to someone thinking about changing careers and becoming a photographer?
Mark: Photography is a bit challenging these days because the access to professional level gear has increased exponentially, hence there is now an influx of very talented amateurs willing to work for free.  For those looking to strike it rich, I suggest not quitting their day job.  However if they are uniquely dynamic and always keeping it new, there will always be an audience. The key to modern photography as a profession is to always be innovative.   _agn7159lrTamrac: What was your favorite image you took in the last year?
Mark:  My favorite image was from a personal family collection of my daughter learning to swim.  It was a very memorable moment because of the joy it brought her and the significance of her independence.  Its an angle that most aren’t able to capture, yet we know from experience.  The image itself lets the viewer feel the elation of every swimmer.

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Tamrac: What Tamrac gear do you use?
Mark:  I love the Expedition 9x.  Its the one bag that is large enough to carry a 600mm, all your other gear, and still make it past TSA airline restrictions.  The bag tends to get heavy, but upon inspection, TSA always allows the additional weight because the bag carries all in such an efficient manner.
The MicroSyncs are also invaluable for off camera strobe work.  Nice, compact and simple to use.
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Tamrac: What do you love about your Tamrac bags?
Mark:  They are Timeless essentials built to last and most importantly, protect.

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For more information on Mark and his work, please visit his links:
Website: www.alonphilippines.com
FB:  www.facebook.com/drmarkdimo
Blog: www.surfdoc.blogspot.com/

Q & A with Rena Durham

_L5K8152RENA DURHAM (SERIES LEAD) Confident, determined, authentic, warm-hearted with great comedic timing. A Wife and Mother; she married her Prince Charming and absolutely adores her son. She believes that you can still be a Christian and read Harry Potter (she secretly dreams what it would be like to be Gryffindor Quidditch Captain). Down to earth, Most days she can be found in a t-shirt, jeans and her sneakers with a Non-Fat Chai Tea Latte (luckily she owns stock in Starbucks, as often as she is there). She loves working as a photographer, specifically with kids and teens (and has built a solid reputation in the entertainment industry as one of the most prolific teen celebrity photographers.) She loves working with kids of all ages and is loaded with many talents, which span beyond the world of photography. A member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Rena has lent her voice to a multitude of video games, commercials and more, played supporting roles in films and once had a recording contract as the lead singer in an all girl-singing group. She believes that within every child there is pure beauty and enormous potential and that the best sound in the world is a child’s laugh.renadurhamTamrac:  You are well known for shooting teen celebrities.  How did you get involved in this niche genre?
Rena: I started out in 1999, photographing concerts and red carpet events. I found that I really enjoyed working with the teen talent and it led to me working for various teen entertainment magazines (Tiger Beat, Bop. Popstar, etc.) doing behind the scenes photography on Disney and Nickelodeon TV shows like ‘Suite Life of Zack and Cody’, ‘That’s So Raven’, etc.

In 2002, I decided that I no longer wanted to cover events and started doing more exclusive one on one shoots with celebrity talent. The relationships that I had built with publicists, agents and talent  made the transition a fairly easy one. Since then, I have photographed some of the top names in the industry including Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus and Zac Efron. It’s a ton of fun and has to be one of the best jobs in the world.

050610034Tamrac: What is the one piece of camera equipment you always take with you?
Rena: Well, there are quite a few pieces of equipment that I don’t leave the house without. My Canon 1Ds Mark II and my favorite go to lenses (the 70-200mm 2.8 ISL and the 24-70 2.8).

La Petite Fashion Shoot - Summer 2011TamracDo you have any secrets for getting babies to cooperate for your photo shoots?
RenaBabies are extremely unpredictable. You can’t negotiate with babies and you can’t expect them to follow direction (as you would an older child or adult). You just hope that they are in a great mood, happy and love to have their photo taken. Everyone has a bad day and babies are no different. You just have to be patient, get down on their level and be ready to PLAY and WORK hard for that shot! A little secret that gets their attention (and usually makes them laugh) 95% of the time is the ‘fake sneeze’. Ah…Ah…Ahhhh…CHOO! (as silly as possible).
_MG_0808TamracHow do you get your ideas for your creative kids’ photo shoots?  Do you talk to the kids to get a feel for what would work with their personalities? Or do you have the shoot in mind beforehand?
Rena For my concept shoots, I always have the idea in mind beforehand. I can get inspired by just about anything…music, books, poetry, art, a location, piece of clothing, a particular model… I love looking at fashion magazines for inspiration. I will get the concept for the photo shoot first, and then base everything else off of that, from the models that I cast to the clothing for the shoot, location, props, etc.

_L5K4234TamracYou do a lot of lectures and workshops.  What topics do you like to cover in these lectures?
RenaI have done workshops on creating concept driven editorial photo shoots with kids to workshops on the ins and outs of photographing celebrities to classes on lighting and running a photo business. 

Elemental Photo ShootPhotography by Rena DurhamTamracWhat was your favorite image you took in the last year?
RenaWow, that is a tough one. I would say my favorite shoot last year was my ‘Summer Crush’ shoot. I also filmed a short film for it (I LOVE shooting video). You can view the film here: http://vimeo.com/67691709

_L5K0355TamracWhat Tamrac gear do you use?
RenaI love and use the rolling cases the most. I have the Big Wheels Rolling Strongbox, which I take everywhere and have used for many years, and for my lighting gear, I have a couple different rolling studios (a medium and large).
Fore1Tamrac:  What do you love about your Tamrac bags?
RenaTamrac bags are very durable and extremely well made. I love that I can fit all my gear in them and feel confident that it’s well protected. They are really easy to manage and transport for both local sessions and when traveling nationwide.

Olivia Holt Portrait Session

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Rena’s Tamrac Rolling StrongBox

 

For more information on Rena and her work, please visit her links: www.renadurham.com
www.renadurhamblog.com
FB:  www.facebook.com/rendphoto
Twitter: www.twitter.com/renadurham
Instagram: www.instagram.com/renadurham

Q & A with Robert Evans

504_palacios-3Robert Evans is one of the most highly acclaimed photographers in the world. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston, Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton, Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy, Shania Twain, Christina Aguilera and Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer are just some of the couples that have sought out his services to photograph their private events. Robert has documented over a thousand weddings worldwide and created iconic imagery that has graced the covers of countless national and international publications.

Selected by Sony as the wedding Artisan of Imagery, one of only eight photographers chosen worldwide, Robert is recognized as one of the most easy-going and pleasant professionals to work with. It is a reputation that at times, exceeds his photography. His personal humility, positivity and dedication to his craft set him apart as a once-in-a-generation photographer. Robert has also had the honor of being selected to give a TED Talk which can be found at TED.com

“My interest in photography started around age fourteen. At nineteen, I knew it was the career I wanted to pursue. By twenty-six it had become my passion and I realized it was my calling – what I was placed on this earth to do.”

Robert’s beliefs aren’t so much of “having a style” as they are “capturing a moment”. It is this philosophy that influences his work. His patient, disciplined approach results in photos of moments that touch people’s hearts.

“If I can do that…if I can really touch someone through my photographs, then I’ve done my job.”

Robert’s photography has earned him numerous awards, recognition and titles.  Robert’s work has been showcased on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, Extra, MTV, CNN and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, amongst others. His photos have graced the covers and been featured in the content of publications including: USA Today, People magazine, Playboy magazine, Us Weekly magazine, HELLO! magazine, OK! magazine, Life&Style Weekly, In Touch magazine, martha stewart Living magazine and Grace Ormonde Wedding Style magazine.

robert evans headshotTamrac: How did you get into photography?
Robert:  My interest in photography started at an early age. My father was into photography and I had an old camera bag filled with his old Minolta 35mm film cameras that were left to me after he prematurely passed away when I was a young boy.

I took a photography class in ninth grade where we learned the basics of photography. We made pinhole cameras and started to learn how to print in the darkroom. I loved photography class so much, I made sure I signed up for photography once I got up to the high school.

I worked in a small photography lab in Hollywood, next I took a job at a photography studio, in 1988. I photographed my first wedding in January 1989 from there I worked for two other photography studios, before starting Robert Evans Studios in January 1994  I haven’t looked back since.

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Tamrac:  How did you get involved with Sony?
Robert:  My interest with Sony started a little over a year ago in August of 2012. I was hearing great things about Sony cameras and I wondered if there was something better out there than what I was currently shooting. Also, I heard that Zeiss made a lot of the lenses for Sony cameras.  Since I learned on a Hasselblad early in my professional career and Zeiss made all the glass for Hasselblad, it was a little nostalgic for me.

I reached out to Sony and asked if I could test out some of their cameras and lenses and a week later I received an a77 body and a few lenses. The first images I shot with the camera really caught my attention. The dynamic range in the sensor was amazing, unlike anything I had seen in any other digital camera. It was like shooting film – the sharpness of the lenses, the brilliant color, I was sold.

I sent Sony images and then they asked if I would like to speak for them at PhotoPlus in New York. I was super excited.  I never picked up my old cameras again and in September of 2013 I was invited to become the seventh Sony Artisan of Imagery, an honor I accepted proudly.
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Tamrac: What is the one piece of camera equipment you always take with you?
Robert:  Honestly it’s my camera bag… No matter which Sony camera body or lenses I take with me, they always need to be safe and protected.  My Tamrac rolling case is probably my favorite as it saves my back and easily fits over my head in the airplane as I travel a great deal between my speaking and photography jobs.

bride & groom kiss under umbrella beach-1Tamrac:  Where is your favorite place you’ve traveled for a destination wedding?
Robert:  I have been to many great locations in my twenty-five years, but my best memory was Castle Ashby in North Hampton, England. I photographed a wedding in this amazing castle and we all got to stay there for three nights. The Chapel they married in was on the grounds as well as an old graveyard just behind the Chapel. The driveway to the castle was so long you could not see the castle from the road, more than a mile long. It was beautiful and spooky all at the same time. The locations were endless.

img_9743Tamrac:  What is it like shooting such big stars’ special day?  Is it any different than shooting a “normal” wedding?
Robert:  Celebrities are just normal people who happen to be famous. They want the same things as everyone else: great images to remember their special day. The only difference is that I may not have the same freedoms to shoot in locations I might like to in order to prevent the paparazzi from stealing photographs of the couple. You also stay up a little later after the wedding is over, editing and getting images to release to the world. It is a very long day.

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Tamrac:  What was your favorite image you took in the last year?
Robert:  It would have to be the image I shot (below) in an ice castle in Minnesota. It was a styled shoot for Minnesota Bride magazine with a winter wedding theme, giving brides ideas for winter weddings.

guide 3Tamrac: What Tamrac gear do you use?
Robert:  I have a Tamrac Roller bag (Big Wheels SpeedRoller 2x) that I take to my weddings and especially when I travel and a Tamrac shoulder bag when I am taking limited gear or maybe to a location where wheels won’t work as well. It is a large shoulder bag that can hold everything I need on the wedding day, but whenever possible I like the wheels, in order to work smarter not harder.

4q7h0072Tamrac: What do you love about your Tamrac bags?
Robert:  I know my equipment is safe and well-protected in my Tamrac bags. They are made very well and last forever. My shoulder bag I have had for at least 15 years. It’s dirty and grungy (and full of memories), but it still does the job well.

For more information on Robert and his work, please visit his website:  www.robertevans.com/

Q & A with Ben Horton

13Ben Horton started his career as a photographer by taking photographs of places where other people simply couldn’t go.  The more remote the location, the harder it was to get there, the more appeal it had for the young upstart. It wasn’t long before Ben moved on to working in the commercial world, and was picked up by some of the top names in fashion and advertising.  As it goes, Ben’s original passion caught ahold of him once again while shooting a documentary project on a remote island in the Pacific.  Ben was awarded the first ever National Geographic Young Explorers Grant for work he did to expose the issue of shark poaching on Cocos Island and as a result, he was invited to join National Geographic Explorer in Residence Will Steger on a two month arctic adventure, using photography to document the effects of global warming.  Ben is now a contributing photographer for National Geographic, and is currently working on the story of Genghis Kahn, Endangered Trees, and the Haitian earthquake recovery.
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Tamrac:  What inspired you to become a photographer?
 Ben:  I always knew I wanted to be a storyteller.  For a long time I thought that meant writing, and I do write on occasion, but when I discovered that I could tell the same story through images I was quick to change my focus from writing to photography.  It also helped that my photos started selling while my writing didn’t get picked up right away.

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Tamrac:  Does your mental preparation change when you are shooting for National Geographic compared to shooting fashion or commercial photography?
Ben:  It is an absolutely different mental process.  I think that’s also why I like doing both National Geographic work and fashion/commercial work.   It stimulates different parts of my brain.  When shooting for National Geographic I’m trying to take an existing scene and interpret what I’m seeing accurately, but in a way that intrigues the viewer, that means building whole new tools to help me capture an image, or finding ways to see something from a new angle.  When I’m shooting commercially, or fashion, I’m creating an image from scratch.  Sometimes I visualize concepts with paper and pencil, and then try and recreate that image in reality.

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Tamrac:  What is the best advice you have been given that was related to photography?
Ben:
  To never give up.  I wasn’t born talented as a photographer, but I do have one talent that a lot of people don’t have, and that’s the willingness to work longer and harder than the next person.  That’s the most important talent anyone can have.

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Tamrac:  You have traveled all over the world, is there a particular location you love to visit and why?
Ben:  Everywhere has it’s own draw.  It’s hard to compare the high arctic to a submarine landscape 2000 feet below the surface of the ocean.  I would go back to any of the places I’ve visited, but I think if I had one place left to go, I might choose to go back to the arctic.  It’s like being on another planet.  It’s the most remote place that I’ve ever been.  Imagine going two weeks without any sign of man at all.  I didn’t even see a plane in the sky for two weeks.  There’s bear, wolves, muskox, giant rabbits and tiny reindeer.  It’s a really fascinating world.

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Tamrac:  What project moved you the most?
Ben:  In Haiti, you just saw a broken country, where even the presidential palace was literally falling apart, about to collapse.  But the people were for the most part kind, happy, and spirited in the face of all that had happened to them.  The country is beautiful once you get outside of Port Au Prince.  First world aid programs were everywhere, but in many ways they were taking advantage of the Haitians as much as they were helping them.  It was all a very large contrast to what we hear about on our news channels.

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Tamrac:  With DSLR’s now capable of shooting video, do you experiment with shooting motion when you are in the field and has that changed how you approach an assignment?
Ben: I do, and I enjoy shooting video when I am on an assignment.  I shot a lot of video when I was in Mongolia, and they ended up putting a large portion of my work into a documentary on NGTV.  I’ve shot a few TV shows and even had some of my own projects put on television, so it’s always good to collect some motion while in the field.  It is hard sometimes to decide what matters most, stills or video, because when something important happens and there isn’t someone there dedicated to shooting just video it can be missed.

Tamrac:  What Tamrac gear do you use?
Ben:  I have three tamrac bags, I’ve got the Expedition 8x for hard hiking, and remote places, the Rally 6 for when I only need my camera and a lens or two, and the speedroller 1x for when I’m shooting in the city or when I’m traveling.   I’m also thinking of getting an Evolution Speedroller so I have something that both rolls and can be worn like a pack. That would be great for traveling assignments.

Tamrac:  What do you love about your Tamrac bags?
Ben: I strap my bags onto the back of my motorcycle and I fully trust them.  Having lost a lot of camera equipment to the roughness of travel, it’s nice to have something that I don’t have to worry about.   I would even check my bags and feel safe.

Micro Sync II Review with Tom Keller

Hey everyone,

We got a chance to send Tom Keller one of our Micro Sync II remote firing units to test out with his steel wool photography. For those of you who don’t know what the Micro Sync II is, it’s a lightweight wireless system for remotely firing and syncing strobes, flashes and cameras. Check out the video at the end of Tom’s review to learn more! So here’s the review that Tom sent us after he had taken the MS II out on a few trips… and he sent pictures!!!

Tom: When I first received the Micro Sync II I thought it would come in quite handy with the
Steel Wool Photography I shoot. It’s light weight, made from plastic and metal and
pretty durable. At first I was having some issues with the receiver turning on and
syncing but after some quick trouble shooting it turned on and I haven’t had a problem
since.

I have never used a remote trigger before so I was eager to try it out. Since I typically
go out with a partner, it was exciting to come up with new ideas to take advantage of
MSII. We took the remote camping with us at Lake Tahoe to test our creativity and the
device and it turned out great. Because of the landscape, it was not ideal to travel from
the camera to the desired position for either of us so MSII made this shot of “Sleeping
under the Sparks” possible.

Photo 1

Just recently I took this photo “Light Keeper.” I was able to take multiple shots in a row
with MSII to allow the model to change poses without wasting time and sparks from
the steel wool.

Photo 2

Although I typically have a partner with me I occasionally go out alone and this is
when Micro Sync II really helps me out. It allows me to better prepare for photos farther away and not have to race against a timer.

Photo 3
Photo 4

All in all I think it’s a great product. It works great for lone photographers taking multiple shots at a distance or for close up group shots. It allows a photographer to get more creative with his work because there is one less restriction.

Photo 5

Here’s how I’ve incorporated the Micro Sync II into my photo shoots. My typical night shooting starts around 11pm. Once we arrive at a location, we set up the camera angle with Marissa standing where I plan on spinning. She helps focus the camera lens by shining a light at the camera. With the camera already in focus I then turn the camera off and take out the MSII, plug the firing cord into the receiver and then into the shutter release input. I then turn the camera back on to wake up the receiver and take a couple test shots before we start spinning. Lately, Marissa and I have been doing shots with her posing with props or silhouettes to switch it up a bit while I spin in the background. Once we’re both ready and sparks are flying, I use the remote in my other hand to trigger the camera to shoot. If sparks are still flying by the time the shutter closes, Marissa changes her pose and I’ll fire a second shot. The MSII really comes in handy in these situations when we’re both in the shot.
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For more information on the Micro Sync II watch the video below and visit the website: www.microsyncdigital.com

For more information on Tom Keller check out these links:
Tom’s previous post on Steel Wool Photography
Follow him on Facebook
Follow him on Instagram: @tomkellerphotography
Send him an email: Tommokeller@gmail.com

Become a part of out Instagram community by following @tamracphoto, and like us on Facebook to stay up with everything Tamrac!

4th of July Contest!

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Congratulation to Greg from San Diego for winning our 4th of July contest with a guess of 576 sparklers! Greg has won himself a Tamrac Zuma 9 backpack and a Lensbaby Spark! Way to go with your number-of-sparkler guessing skills!

Want More?
Follow us on Facebook, and find us on Instagram to keep up with future contests and all things Tamrac!

All You Need In Two Tamrac Bags

Here’s a blog post we’re reposting from our friend Chadwick Trentham. Check out what he has to say about reducing his load from 5 bags to just 2. We like making life easier, and we’re pretty good at it.

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I received two new bags from Tamrac last week and decided to put them to the test for a series of small productions I’ve been working on recently. UnpackingThough smaller in scope, each shoot requires many accessories, including multiple cameras, mics, and more. And of course, the location is often far from my car. I’m typically carrying four or five bags of various sizes, by myself. Unpacking+2So I turned to Tamrac to find an easier solution. They previously helped me find a great bag, the Tamrac Evolution 9, to use on an 11 day back packing trip.
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For my current productions, I was searching for a two-bag solution with wheels and the capacity to fit my kit. APU_9657I usually bring two cameras, lenses, mics, two tripods, a slider, and a light kit. With that in mind, Tamrac recommended the Big Wheels Speed Roller 2x for cameras, and the Medium Rolling Studio for gear. APU_9637The best part is I can use them when I travel. The Big Wheels Speed Roller 2x falls within carry-on guidelines, which would make it a breeze to use when flying.
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Packing has never been simpler. These bags are easy to rearrange, and the dividers have great padding while remaining sturdy. APU_9693The Speed Roller includes numerous pockets for small items, a laptop pocket, and straps that hold the top upright so the door doesn’t flop onto the ground when you’re trying to access things quickly. APU_9676The Rolling Studio feels really sturdy, and is well padded in case you need to check gear when traveling. My favorite feature is the top pocket: it’s large and I used it to store fast flags and a reflector for quick access.
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Overall, I would recommend these bags for anyone looking to simplify their productions. Tamrac has always been my go-to for protecting my gear. I’m looking forward to testing them further on my next production.

Chadwick Trentham
Visual Storyteller
Azusa Pacific University
Los Angeles, California

Click here to see original post.

Q & A with with Myles McGuinness

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_9M78785-139Inspired by a lifetime of traveling, Myles was raised on saltwater and snow. He grew up across the U.S. in such places as the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, Ohio, and North Carolina, and along with the coastal beaches of Georgia, Texas, Florida and California. You could say he traveled a lot as a kid and developed a certain itch for exploration.
Myles holds Bachelor of Art degrees in both Graphic Design and Photography from Savannah College of Art and Design. His images have been exhibited internationally in Brazil, France, Italy, Japan, Australia, U.S. and recognized by: American Advertising Federation (AAF), National Geographic, The Smithsonian, Oceanside Museum of Art, The California Surf Museum, Communication Arts Photo Annual, and a Follow the Light Finalist.
“Great images have always inspired me, whether they are images that have been captured before by others, or those that I see when I close my eyes and imagine. Images are so powerful they motivate, tell stories, alter the course of history, they change the way we see the past and shape the future. For me, photography has been a life-long means to explore and capture how I view the world—slices of life, an instant in time, a person, an experience or an event. I strive to connect with those places and people I’ve documented. Photography represents both a means of expression and documentation.
With my images I look to combine certain energy, a feeling, with unique light, at equally interesting moment in time. I am drawn to the textures and patterns of the ocean, a persons face or a distant location. The feelings and essence are what I try to embody and capture within my images. Subtle but bold. Simple yet deeply complex. Instantaneous but timeless.”

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Tamrac: 
How did you get into photography?
Myles:  Both my parents were really into photography and my step dad was a filmmaker. My first camera was an old Kodak Instamatic, which was in my hands probably around age 4 or 5. I still have some prints from it. The next leap was in college, learning about the technical side of photography- the darkroom, lighting, and different processes.

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Tamrac:  You have traveled all over the world shooting for clients such as Surfer Magazine, Eidon, Kelly Slater Wave Co., to name just a few!  Do you have a favorite location to shoot and why?
Myles:  Each place I visit has something special and memorable to offer, it’s hard to pick just one place. I think the best part of traveling is experiencing new places and people for the first time. If I had to pick one place it would have to be of my favorite local spot to shoot, Blacks Beach in La Jolla, CA. Amazing light, sandstone cliffs and emerald green water, but you do have to watch out for the nude sunbathers.

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Tamrac:  Did you grow up surfing and how has that helped you as a photographer?
Myles: I actually grew up skiing in West Virginia and North Carolina, and then moved to Florida around age 11. That’s when I transitioned from skiing to surfing all the time. Living in Florida required traveling to find better waves and naturally I would document those adventures. I guess you could say surfing has helped me step back and appreciate those simple things that bring us so much joy. The people, the feeling, the environments and the experiences along the way.

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Tamrac:  What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?
Myles:  Keep it real, shoot what you know and are passionate about in life. The rest will fall into place.

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Tamrac:  Can you share with us your next project?
Myles:  I’m off to Nicaragua next week for a photo shoot. We have talented group of 8-10 art directors, models, and surfer’s flying in from California, Puerto Rico and Canada.

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Tamrac:  How has Social Media helped you as a photographer?
Myles:  Social media has been a great tool for me to gain exposure to a larger audience without having to spend a ton of money. Though it does take a bit of time.  It’s helped me reach & interact with more people across the globe that wouldn’t have been possible ten years ago.

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Tamrac:  What is your favorite surf movie?
Myles:  Bunyip Dreaming. A classic film shot by Jack McCoy in Australia with music by Concrete Blonde and INXS.

Tamrac:  What do you love about your Tamrac bags?
Myles:  They are durable, well designed + protects my gear from the elements.

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Tamrac: What Tamrac gear do you use?
Myles:  Expedition 8x- Model 5588 (Black) + MX5354 Rain Cover
Jazz 76 Sling Pack Model 4276
Big Wheels SpeedRoller X2 5592

Tamrac: How can people find out more about you and your work, and keep up with what you’re doing?
Myles: www.9mphoto.com (Website)
www.facebook.com/9mphoto (facebook)
           9mphoto (instagram)