Ian's Background and Setup to Nature Photography
Hello, internet and welcome back. If you are just joining us now, my name is kinda klosterman. I am your host today. And this is mr ian show live. We are here in the most amazing location, right and way. Not that way. R a few hours outside of our seattle studio. We're here in the olympic national park. And this is the kicking off our three day workshop, which is photographing america's national parks with ian chive. Now, ian is a probably the most prolific national park photographer. Definitely good after ugo ugo and is published by magazines all over the place, including sunset magazine outside magazine that packer, in fact, and also people. We'll see some of these tio talked about that backpacker cover right now is out there. So that's, one of one of your stunning images, you are an ansel adams award winning ansel adams, conservation photographer I was fortunate enough the sierra club nominated me for that. Yeah, for my work in the parks mostly. Right? Right. And and that's that's wh...
at we're here to talk about over the course of these next three days we owe him so so much to cover. This is going to begin I know, I know you think the last half what was their last? Segment last hour and a half. Right? Right. What felt like a half hour from but is actually an hour and a half if you thought that was cool I mean, the next the next two days. Next today? Yeah, I mean, just be awesome. Yeah, and if you if you weren't with us earlier we did a sunset shoot today sunset sunrise should write this morning we were up at this early way are very caffeinated, this boy shadows to the entire crew because it's really incredible what we are what we're doing here, there's a very first time creative live has gone to a national park, brought our studio here and broadcast live to the world. So welcome to your creative live classroom and welcome to your national parks no matter where in the world you are that's, right? That's, right? So we have a lot to cover, not only in this segment, but over the course of the three days, and ian and our crew have been very, very busy. So we just wanted to take a little bit of time to talk through what we are going to cover over the next three days because this really is a very, very comprehensive outdoor and nature photography class and take us through what we're going to, everything basically everything it is ah fully comprehensive the fundamentals of landscape photography. We had a spontaneous moment, so I mean, this is truly the tip of the iceberg in that we're getting out here on this lake in olympic, but for the last six days, we've been in mount rainier national park and pre taping, appreciating, ah lot of different lessons at a lot of different popular places, lesser known places as well, and just encountering anything that you would normally encounter on a photo expedition. So we got a sunset sweet sunsets like a mount rainier. I got a little preview photo of it here we'll take a look which I will not lie that took the full full six days for us to finally get a break in the weather, to see that mountain. And from what I understand, stand a lot of people from seattle don't don't get to see it all that often themselves. So no walking, being an angeleno. Uh, see, mount rainier, we call her a she and she's not always be okay. She's not always out. She does not know what she does show you were able, tio tio. Very persistent way did, and we encountered a lot of different things, you know, the days leading up to that final clearing, we aah! Hike a lot of trails I think we covered five or six miles in a day. The camera crew is awesome and we just got out there and actually lived the life of a photographer, so I got to get down on the ground photograph wildflowers recovered macro photography landscapes who worked in dense fog and clouds is that were circulating circulating around the base of mount rainier. Um and then I don't go to mount rainier, but the next shot a little preview as well. We got out tio parts of olympic national park exactly yesterday we made it to the whole rain forest as well as ruby beach, and we've had a lot of challenges. You know, I think that the great part about this course in general is that we're really dealing with the real world problems of ah, professional photographer and aspiring photographer or somebody just on vacation who is there to see a mountain or there to see one of the best wild flower blooms of their lifetime and figure out howto I bring those pictures home, or how do I bring him to the market or whatever it is that your end result is how do you capture them, given the circumstances that you have and it has been really challenging, you know, it's hot and really sweaty and filled the mosquitoes and the whole rainforest and ah, you know, we had obviously the challenges that rainier what we just never saw the mountain and then we got to ruby beach and it was fog like soup so like likes you wait let's take a look at a few more of what is to come like we said we're going to have prerecorded segments that will go through over the course of the next couple of days three days really and to see the true variety but today we're here we're live yeah it's great and, uh these are actually just some shots from this yeah, so here is tio you just watched these air what I call the quick down and dirty at it which will learn in studio actually a couple of days but these are just some of the shots on an un calibrated monitor so the color and all that's not perfectly adjusted and I haven't completely clean all the dust which is a nightmare for any photographer but, um these are some of the shots that we just captured this morning here on the lake so quick turnaround quick turnaround this's the fifteen minute turnaround and it's great though because you get to see this and I like to do edits in the field and I do an edit the end of every day that I photograph you do I do every day even if it's a quick at it? Yeah for sure andi, you'll see like I mentioned in the in the in the class where on the beach that shadow on the mountain you could see how if that shadow had dropped all the way down to the down to the horizon line where the water is that a shot in my mind it would have been, you know, sort of sort of perfected this is to me is a nine out of ten, but it's on its way um but I think overall for what we're doing, uh, really, really great stuff. My biggest tip and takeaway was the f twenty two aa one fourth one six one eighth of a second to get that little little ripples like sleight of yeah, it works great storms to one thing I've seen about after afterwards. Yeah, we're taking your break was well, not only just in a snow, but we think of the great lakes, especially or an ocean anywhere in the world or any lake in the world where the wind is really blowing and you're getting the rocks and the water crashing and you don't want it to be perfectly smooth because then it starts to look like almost like a fog almost like a dry ice effect around it um and that would be too long oven exposure and then two short exposure it would just be frozen but you maybe want to get that idea of seeing it sort of streaking towards the towards the camera towards the lens that's where you want to be is in that that sweet spot of not fast not slow but you know the goldilocks goldilocks well for those people who don't know a ton about you we are going to take this segment tio not only talk to hear your story and incredible story one that is near and dear to my heart as well in terms of following your passions but also people how did you get to where you are today and just see see some of your work and hear your stories and learn and be inspired by them so excellent let's go ahead and and do that great that guy tio yeah, we'll be taking questions we've got rust in the chat rooms who is sitting right next to me here on his laptop lounging on the ground there that's got a good spot on the log I like it the best in the chat rooms there is a chat icon where you can click and join us there and then asked what your questions directly for ian there on the court paige and will be going through them throughout the day when they are relevant to what we're talking about sounds good right over to you in all right thanks so we're to pick up from there um so can I, as you mentioned, I mean it's it's ah it's been an interesting journey, and I think you're probably watching this morning and you're enjoying the scenery and the lesson and everything. We were wondering who is this guy why's he talking about landscape photography? And, you know, for me it really stems from a lot of different places I've been going to the national parks my entire life, and I I love ayla travel loved the outdoors and nature, um, and I think if you love the outdoors and nature that national parks, whether you're here in the states or whether you're in a national park overseas and we're talking again briefly during the break about, you know, croatia, we mentioned, and I've been in parts all over in europe, in asia, in different places, and they're always the crown jule wilderness and always sort of the centerpiece of what makes you know, the best of the outdoors, and and for me, that was very important in the early stages because I didn't have a lot of time I haven't always been a photographer professionally, though I certainly been around it my whole life, my father has been a professional photographer, um, and starting in a very different jonah starting in classic rock and roll and then eventually incorporating business photography and and as I always like to joke that when you grow up around something you say that's the one thing I'm not going to do and then you look back twenty, thirty years later and that's the one thing you were destined to dio I think, um so I I kind of moved away from that and grew up on the east coast and moved out west and was just immediately enamored ah, with the big open spaces and places like olympic national park where we are and and really I got very struck early on with with montana and I went teo college ah, up there I went eventually moved to california and my home is in los angeles now, um, so I've really been all over the place in california is a great state as well, because there's more national parks there than anywhere else in the lower forty eight. And so for me, it's it's a great spot, but I didn't do photography I actually had ah, the classic sort of quote unquote desk job. It was a pretty cool desk job was working in marketing in the movie industry and and I really loved it, but it was never really fully dialed into who I was and what it was about and so to gain that perspective and to get out of l a and get out of the city every chance I got uh pretty much the entire time I worked at that at that job I'd go to a national park I get in the car I would drive to yosemite um I would get on a plane and fly to yellowstone on my vacations is and basically I would gain that that relief from being outdoors and these kinds of images I had an image up now with the silhouette of ah of a guy standing with the lake in the background these are the images that I started to create because they they captured my experience it's the human experience of the parks and these places and and really photography began as a way to to share my personal experiences and and almost the way somebody would write in a journal for me they were journal entries of experiences of storms of snow that you got caught in of incredible views or vistas and it was almost like finding a way to prove that these were the places that you I really went and so really became something simple is that what I never realizes this body of work that eventually built up over the course of three or four years I got very, very aggressive and a little obsessed with it and obviously I've taken it to a whole new level because here we are today but um I had this photo I never knew that that photo would one day become the cover of my book and paperback edition of the book and then we had the original cover which has a very similar story I mean this this image believe it or not was shot with a with an old ten d a six point three megapixel camera um and I was on a trip that didn't really go so well and I had two days to kill and then I'm getting my car and driving for seven hours and I ended up having a grows by myself had one camera couple of my filters that you saw this morning through him on and I was able to go in and capture landscape that would become one day the cover of my first book you know, several years later um and so really through the sharing and the personal experiences and that escape from that everyday life eyes really what everyday desk life I should say is really what gave rise the desire to find a way to spend more time outdoors um to spend more time not only capturing his experiences but sharing them but seeking even greater experiences and sort of pushing myself and not just by photography I mean the photography is a companion to a lot of things about myself it's a you know it's a companion tio my curiosity about the world ah the companion to my interest in science and the outdoors a companion tio desire to travel um and really is also a companion teo ah you know making a living and finding a way to to to strike that balance in my life it's always been a little bit about balance and so um I've been very fortunate in that over the years I've had ah ah ah lot of covers and a lot of for spreads and and actually most of these are within the last year not actually the last few months um and my work has just sort of reached this this point where ah I've covered I've been over forty countries um I've been in all fifty states and ah and I continue to travel a lot um and that body of work has now just found its way through all different types of channels and the most gratifying thing I think in in the world really is not just sharing your work on lee online or amongst friends but sharing it with strangers I'm just like we are today and just like I'm able to do by telling these stories of these incredible places and don't be telling my own story but the work is really illustrating the stories of much bigger uh a much bigger picture things and so ah you know for clients like the nature conservancy have worked with for years. Most recently I was asked speak of the smithsonian my image of yellowstone's grand prismatic uh was featured on the cover of catalog the sierra club. Their most recent issue was on fifty years celebrating the wilderness act, and they had asked me to photograph, uh, that story. And I covered all of these different locations. We shall share a little with you. Here is we talk. And I mean again, to think about that sierra, um, now we recognize me with with this incredible honor such as ansel adams award, but also the honor ah, photographing something that represented fifty years of the wilderness act. Um, really, really ah, awesome opportunity and what I'm grateful for and and then of course, backpacker, which it has a really, really cool story, which I think we were talking about it it's really cool about this, uh, backpacker most recent cover in is that yesterday you and the crew we're driving all around here in the olympic national park and you stop for some food, right? Random place rand road. And there was backpacker magazine with your cover sitting right on the top of the stack of backtracking magazines, I might add, yeah, I love it and it's pretty, and I love that we're doing the national park thing at the national park issue and it's really it's a great point, too, in the sense of of what image they used and in that you know, I shot a lot of images from that day, and one thing throughout this course I'll really talk about is why it's important not to edit in the field because that while I love this shot and I consider it one of several from that same setup, it probably would have been my first pick andi I'll really talk about the editing process and you know how to really understand how an image goes from a place like this to the cover of a magazine like that um or any or any magazine it's it's such a fascinating journey images can make and sometimes it's the most unexpected image. Um so really, you know, there's there's two phases to teo what we're really talking about obviously the capturing of images but also the ability to add it your own work and identify it and and build towards ah, you know, opportunities like this that's what's really cool is that I'm guessing not a lot of people that are at home watching right now in our saying okay, how do I get published? Because because that certainly is probably most any photographer especially landscape nature that's kind of the dream is to be on the cover of the ultimate compliment to exactly about it, so I know that we are going to get into talking about that a little bit later but but what's the what's the quick version how did you go from starting to photograph national parks on your own and why national parks but then to like you're getting public the first time you got published well you know it's really something that I'm going I'm going to dig into which is you know you want to you want to really find something a thatyou love I think that's key um you know, I think people ah desire to get published but might not always have a clear reason why and I'm included in that when I first started out I knew I wanted my work to be published because it would be cool to see it in print but it was more of the show off of fact effect unless of really what getting published is about and what getting an assignment is about to so getting a published is really a component of different things there's two types of ways to do it where you've already shot the work on your own and someone recognizes it and uses it or you get sent out to capture it um both their incredible opportunities both very different in the way that a photo ends up in print um you know obviously magazines and the world of print in general I've gone through a lot of transitions but in my opinion there's still one of the greatest ways for photographers to share work and obviously online has changed forever the way that work is shared and and the volume of work that is shared but for me the first way I got started was was very, very simple um you know and and I'm gonna I think I think beginning at the very beginning is important because I was in a digital photographer with all of the best year um I was a film photographer on the edge of when digital would become very popular but it hadn't happened yet and so I was a film photographer shooting transparency and for people who I I'm sure someone else you might not know what film is um it's that stuff that's real long you should get only thirty six frames at a pop and I has ah sprocket holes on the on the outsides of it it was really expensive to process at the time but also really really fun to shoot with that's how I started and I had thirty six frames at the most is expensive and I was young you know, I was when I first started shooting I was always shooting with my father and things, but when I went out on my own and moved out west um you know I would I would shoot ah, you know you're you're nineteen years old and, you know, nine ten bucks a roll of film to get developed this was quite a number of years ago already it was expensive. And so that meant thirty six shots. You had to make them all count. And I think that way of learning and, you know, when I talked about slowing down my process and really working towards an angle or an envision, that was something that really developed out of out of that era. And I think that the ability to shoot on film was very important to me being effective and very short burst or short periods of time that especially combined with the fact that oh, at as I as I ah, evolved, is a person and had a nine to five monday through friday job. I only had two saturdays and sundays to really shoot is well, so you take those two things and had to be effective, and you had to be fast. Um and so those were two skills that I learned, but I also didn't have the best gear in the world. Had a basic thirty five millimeter camera. Um, is an old minolta camera. It was a great camera. And when I felt I needed to get into a better camera, it was time to upgrade my gear. It was only because I had run out of options that I felt I needed to somehow convey or go to the next level creatively it wasn't because it was the great thing to have or that it would make me popular among my friends but simply that it provided a function or a service that I was no longer getting with the equipment I had but that I suddenly found a personal need or desire to have um and so I've always grown into my equipment into this day I still don't have all of the best of ever anything um you know, even though it's my entire career I have what I need I travel light I'm able to be effective with my work um and I feel like that really also liberates makes I'm not weighed down physically lots and lots of gear um but you know, the idea of having the latest of everything hasn't really been that important because I haven't felt like it holding me back by not having that in certain ways but that said I've always pushed the boundaries with video and with storytelling combining video and a lot of my simon so I'll talk about those in a minute too but um I continue pushed the boundaries but without having to feel like I have to you compete with always the best um but there of course reasonable expectations that clients also have so it's it's become more of a balance but I think for anybody starting out a lot of people feel like ah what you know I don't have a huge budget how I'll never be able to do what he what he does um and that's that's not the case that's not true at all um you know, I think that there's an old joke that I love which is what's the difference between a professional photographer and ah an amateur photographer and it said the amateur tiger has better gear than a professional photographer and it's very often the case you know, I've I've seen in my whole life I know that that there is there is truth in that you know, which is I think where the humor out of it comes but at the same time it is important to keep up I do have great gear have great cameras have great lenses and there are benefits too having having good gear to I think there's a balance and that and you'll have to ask yourself is well, you know, what is it that you hope to achieve um and I think ultimately this is a very long way of answering your question of how does somebody get published and what do they need to do to get published? And the answer really is you have to have a passion for it um whatever that may be whether that's wedding photography or hopefully landscape photography, which is why you're tuning in today um score our uh or some sort of subject maybe not so abroad but maybe it's simply um things that crawl or baby animals or any number of things that that really just are interesting to you could be pets a za colleague of mine photographs and does very well on it but it does will because he relates to the subject he loves the subject not because he is the best kier um and not because you know he's got you know he's he's identified this is a great market opportunity so to speak but simply because it stems out of passion so I think that that's the most important and certainly the most first the first greatest step you could take um for me photography is as they mentioned a second career and the reality of it was it wasn't uh wasn't easy um I left a really good job that paid well um everyone thought I was a little bit crazy at the time a lot of people also encouraged me to pursue photography so I had sort of both spectrum's you know, one on one here one in the other um and when I left it was it was definitely a struggle. You know, I I was fortunate in that I had built an archive of several hundred great national park imagery um and that's again kind of extending onto what's the next thing someone should do is it's not only do something that you love, but really, really start teo hone in on something more narrow than that, so I didn't just say I love nature and I focused on nature, but I said I loved national parks in particular, I really love these parts that are close to home, and I'm going to show you which ones those are for me in a moment. But for me, my my my strength certainly has over revolved around america's national parks, but it's now brought into, um, ecosystems around the world, but the national parks are still close to my heart, of course, and for me, the images really started with a photograph like this classic landscapes, things that you would see in a calendar or, you know, ah, you know, pretty pretty things in an on an office or a motel hotel or something like that. These are the images that I strived for and that we're very gratifying, and they still are to this day, but the parks were also in challenging for other reasons, you know, including the fact that a lot of people before me have photographed great people, including those that who's awards I have been honored with, like the ansel adams award or people like galen rowell on all those. So I I was following in these really, really big footsteps and knew that I had to find new ways to photograph these classic places. But the one thing that that's interesting about photographing in the environment as well is that it's, constantly changing and photographing the national parks, you know, place like olympic. And we have a beautiful summer. You know, late summer, a day like this. If you were to come back two months from now, it's going to be completely transformed into this incredible fall landscape, you come back a few months later, it's going to be winter here, and then you go through spring in each season, each place. Each time you go out into an environment like that it's not the same park, it is but it's also a completely new to the photographer. Um and so for me, that's always been ah, very appealing element. Um, there's certainly a lot of challenges with photographing in a national park. And that challenge is, um is the is? Obviously the weather and the elements as you're going to see plenty of that over the next couple of days with this fog win cold hail rain um and I've really gotten in underwater photography and that comes with a whole other set of challenges of its own but you also the ability to figure out how to make those things really work for you but so the parks have been really very important an instrumental in my my star I think I really enjoy that you talk about how it's different every time you go to these whether it's the season or what have you because it's living and breathing just like you talked about music earlier and composing in the first but it's just like we are it is always changing and growing and I think um it's it's so interesting when you go back and look at some of the same same places yeah it's constantly transforming and it will for the rest of my life and that means that these will always be a subject matter that I can constantly return to I think in general anything in nature like that it's it's the it's just like the cycle of nature in itself of of ah of of life death regrowth the whole process um not to get too far into that but I mean I think that there's there's definitely a lot of reasons why people s so strongly relate to the outdoors and to outdoor photography and why it is such a rapidly growing genre um because it again it's a kind of falls back too not just the enjoyment of it but the ability to communicate to those around you something you also enjoy. Um I also think from a photography standpoint to how often do we ever get to share what we see through our eyes with other people, especially in the everyday world and as much a studio photography which I've been around plenty in my life there friends and family is great it's so much more controlled and it's a very different process um where where their you're controlling and creating an environment around design we're here you're you're working in the national parks and you're trying to execute a design um based on what you've been given or what you have and so I think the process is really is really interesting and and it really gives you an opportunity to hone in on perspective um you know, imagine to spend a day looking at the world through someone else's eyes I think that working outdoors and photography it is um it is his natural of a way to do so and I think is probably one of the most honest ways I think of sharing the way that you you see the world with other people you're incredible, I will get to see the world through your eyes for three days. You haven't changed that much for you with regard to, okay, so we're photographing national party. Part of the reason that we have national parks in this country and all over the world is preservation is conservation, and I know that you that's very near and dear to your heart and do, ah lot with conservation, can you talk to us a little bit about that as well, and perhaps also how people at home, if that is their passion, where they might look to your involved to use their for target? Yeah, or that it's, um, I think for me, it's, I've always come from there's a lot of different types of nature photography, and I have a lot of friends and colleagues who do incredible work around the world, documenting the plight of environmental challenges, of a plate of the environment and the challenges that come with it. Um, for me, I've focused on, and I feel like I am one small piece of a much larger component of nature photographers of professional photographers that are illustrating the many facets of what it means to work in the environment. There are those that are telling the stories of poaching, of, of recovery, of survival, and for me, I've tried to tell uh, the story of inspiration of reminding people what the best of nature can be, um, as well as telling the the very scientific stories for the different organizations that I've worked with and how those monitoring programs and recovery programs work. So I've kind of identified that is my choice, and the national parts are the first true act of conservation ever from from, from a government or from you know, from ah, well, really more from a government, there are a lot of certainly earlier acts that have been identified, people doing conservation activities, but this was the first time a government said we want to put this aside for future generations, and we want it to be just like it is today, one hundred years from now, a thousand years from now and to me, that's always been an incredible foresight that when the parts were first created ninety eight years ago, we got to celebrate the birthday of the national parks at mount rainier a couple of days ago, just pretty cool ninety eight years ago think about it two years from now, we'll celebrate the centennial one hundred year anniversary one hundred years ago when these parks were created, we didn't have issues like urban sprawl and the amount of development of construction and the parks warrant islands of conservation in nature that we're surrounded but growth, but rather they were just these incredible places that stood out for their own merits for their own reasons that for for how that vision had to come through which came first through paintings, of course, and then eventually through photography division was was recognized and then put aside as a national park. And then that idea exported around the world, as I mentioned, they're not obviously national parks, if not in every country nearly every country um and so that's a pretty cool thing tio have that idea. And so for me is a photographer to illustrate that and represent that idea, I think is certainly one of them again to use the word is really it's really an honor to be able to do something like that. Um, you know, I think that going beyond that, um, you know, the conservation aspect of the national parks are really all about, um you know how they'll evolve and not only where they are now, but well, that where they will go in the next hundred years and I think that's the question that I am interested in, certainly as I move forward in the future, um, you know, and I go back to the same parks over and over, I have up on the screen right now, smoky mountains national park when the first time I visited it was an autumn and I went to the spot and I made a mental note of where it was and where I stood and then was able to go back in the summer and you could actually see how the trees that phone and landscape had moved in it was a completely different place um those kinds of things or what I hope is faras seeing the future and then illustrating it through photographs and I love ah vita mea photo in the chat room says by the way there's more outside than just national parks while we're focusing on that for this workshop they mentioned national wildlife refuge is management by u s fish and wildlife service conservation areas managed by the bureau of land management, national forest service land your state and local parks your neighbors in the country scott from boston says as a trustee of a local conservation trust and also add local conservation areas to your list absolutely and I love yeah it's great and you know actually you know as you say, we're focusing on the part because that's my core that's where I got started and it's a great place to learn um but I'm actually working on a project right now toe actually document national wildlife refuge is all over the united states um some going into the next branch I guess you could call it that of our of our interior and very excited cause I've actually begun that here in washington state. I made it to this quality national wildlife refuge, um, last week, and spent two days there filming and doing photography. And they are no less spectacular than our national parks and it's, not it's. Very important to always remember that the skin just not national parks and it's, not just parks, it's your own backyard, and I could be the area that's, that's fenced in, um, and maybe has a pool in the middle and a swing set, you know, but you're still outdoors. You still get the peace and the relief that comes with the fresh air. Um, I don't think you can ever really go wrong with that kind of stuff. So it was a great point, really good point course international audience here on crete, alive and so in whatever country you're in, seek out and find what, what the equivalent might be.