Being a lawyer is great. You enjoy high salary, people see you as professional. Being a landscape photographer is not that great. You will be lonely. Life may be harsh.
However, being a landscape photographer will give you something that a lawyer cannot give you. You will be enjoying the nature instead of facing an office. You will be seeing stunning view instead of the excel table.
Today's guest, Ian Plant, had turned into professional photographer from a lawyer. Thank you Ian for sharing his story with us.
Let's welcome Ian Plant:How do you first get into photography and how long have you been doing landscape photography?
I took a rather roundabout route into professional nature photography. I started off as a lawyer, working for a large Washington, D.C. law firm for eight years before leaving to become a pro nature photographer. I bought my first camera twenty years ago while in law school and I realized then that I was completely hooked on photography. As soon as I paid off my law school debt and saved up a little bit of money, I turned full-time pro and have never looked back. That was ten years ago.
Do you start photography as a landscape photographer, or you later changed into one and what do you like most about landscape photography?
I've always been inspired by nature and the outdoors, doing things like hiking, backpacking, rock-climbing, and kayaking since I was a kid, so landscape photography quickly became my focus. Nowadays, however, I’m photographing other subjects more and more, including wildlife and street photography—to me, the art of photography is the most important thing. Although I love nature, and that's why nature has been my focus, I love the process of artistic abstraction and creating compelling photos, and this is increasingly driving me to diversify my portfolio beyond just landscapes.What inspires you to take landscape photography and how do you find new location to photograph?
I’m inspired to see amazing things. I keep a running “bucket list” of places I’d like to visit, and I do my best every year to knock a few of them off. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), my list grows faster than I can keep up with!
What is typically in your camera bag?
I travel light, usually just bringing my Canon 5D Mark III camera; a 16-35mm lens, 24-70mm lens, and 70-200mm lens; a few filters; and a lightweight carbon fibre tripod. I try to keep my load less than 10 pounds. Sometimes I’ll also bring my Canon 11-24mm lens if I think I’ll have opportunities for ultra-wide angle photography.What equipment do you use now? And what do you start with?
I started with an old Pentax K1000 film camera, twenty years ago. Now I shoot Canon cameras with an assortment of Canon and Tamron lenses.What equipment are you looking to upgrade next?
I’ll be upgrading my camera to the new 50 megapixel Canon 5DS R when it becomes available.Do you have any formal training in photography?
No, I am completely self-taught, both when it comes to photography specifically and art generally.
Is there any challenges you face being a landscape photographer, and what are they?
Being in the field can put an enormous strain on family and other personal relationships. I’m lucky that I have a wonderful wife who puts up with my prolonged absences. That said, the job takes its toll, especially when I have a prolonged stay in a wilderness area with little or no contact with others. Loneliness and boredom can really wear on you when in the field!How do you prepare before going for a shoot?
I try to get a sense of what an area might have to offer by reading hiking guide books and online accounts, but I think it is important to avoid looking at other photographers’ work. I prefer to approach an area with a fresh perspective. I don’t like going to places to get “the shot” that someone else has gotten before. It happens often these days as most places have been shot before, but since I’m looking for unusual convergences of light, weather, mood, and composition, I don’t end up at the traditional icons all that often. I simply like to wander and explore, and learn for myself what an area has to offer.
Do you have a post-processing workflow?
I try very hard to keep my technique firmly rooted in the photographic process rather than the computer process. Many photographers these days heavily rely on extensive computer manipulation to create the “magic” of their work. While there’s nothing wrong with this, I prefer that the magic result from photographic technique and from capturing the wonderful moments of the natural world. Perhaps I shot film for too long before starting with digital, but I got into this to be a photographer, not a computer artist. Although it seems these days that the line between the two has become rather fuzzy, I try to always keep this distinction in mind when shooting and processing images.What is the most important thing you think of before you press the shutter?
Composition and mood are the two most important things to me. Composition is very important because it allows me to share my artistic vision with others. Mood is what makes a photograph relatable to viewers, and it creates an emotional connection that is critical to the success of an image. A photograph that is all composition and no mood ends up being sterile and will cease to move your viewers.
Lastly, what tips/advice do you have for other aspiring landscape photographers?
My advice is simple: practice, practice, practice. The more you shoot the more you learn. Art is an iterative process: each photograph leads you to the next, and every shot you take is part of the foundation upon which you build your body of work. Be ruthlessly self-critical. If something isn’t good, don’t fool yourself into believing that it is. Go back and shoot it over again and again and again until you get it right. Let your passion for photography be your guide, and let it fuel a hunger that can never be satisfied.