When talking about professional photography, most of you may immediate think about commercial photography. Only few people will pop up landscape photography in their mind.
Why? It is because commercial photographers make a lot more money when compare to landscape photographers.
Today's guest, Tom Mackie, gave up great commercial photography job and go into landscape. Not only does Tom enjoy the nature but also he can shoot what he wants instead of being told what to shoot.
Let's welcome today's guest, Tom Mackie:How do you first get into photography and how long have you been doing landscape photography?
My parents bought me a Brownie 127 when I was 8 years old, I was always fascinated with the darkroom process with images suddenly appearing on the paper. I took journalism and photography classes in high school and then obtained a degree in commercial photography at a 2 year tech college. They taught most aspects of photography such as portraiture, commercial, photojournalism and industrial, but not landscape. I had to learn what I could about landscapes on my own. I’ve now been a landscape photographer for 30 years.Do you start photography as a landscape photographer, or you later changed into one and what do you like most about landscape photography?
I started out working as a commercial/industrial photographer in Los Angeles for 5 years after graduating from college and during weekends and holidays I would photograph the stunning landscapes in the national parks in the West. I soon realised that I didn’t want to be confined to the studio working for companies, I wanted to photograph subjects that inspired me. I moved to England in 1985 to start my own landscape photography business travelling around Europe and abroad building up my collection of stock images. Landscape photography allows me to immerse myself in beautiful locations and capture images that I can be proud of creating. I spent the early part of my commercial photography career being told what to photograph, now as a landscape photographer I photograph what I want. When you enjoy your subject it shows in the end result.What inspires you to take landscape photography and how do you find new location to photograph?
Landscape photography is very addictive-I’m always striving to capture that moment where light, composition and timing all come together to make a special image. An image that makes the viewer want to share the experience. For me, it is all about the experience between nature and the photographer. The feeling I get when I know I’ve created something special is why I keep going out there to re-create that feeling over and over.
I’m always looking for landscape locations that are a bit unusual as well as the classic for commercial reasons. I research locations in books, magazines and especially the internet. It’s much easier these days with the internet with so much information at your finger tips.What is typically in your camera bag?
Because I am travelling a lot, I try to keep the weight of my bag down as much as possible. I only carry three lenses, a body, Lee Filters and a few accessories. I also have a spare body that I pack in my suitcase.What equipment do you use now? And what do you start with?
I started my career using a Nikon F2 Photomic 35mm film camera then moved up to medium and large format cameras. I went digital in 2006 with the Canon 5D and then the 5D MKII. I wasn’t happy with the resolution so switched to the Nikon D800 and currently the Nikon D810. I have the 14-24mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm f4 lenses.What equipment are you looking to upgrade next?
I am considering the new Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300MM f/4E PF ED VR.Do you have any formal training in photography?
I have a degree in commercial photography.Is there any challenges you face being a landscape photographer, and what are they?
The biggest challenge for the professional landscape photographer these days is to continue to make a living from photography. There are too many photographers and not many professional photographers left. The market is oversaturated and under valued. Diversification is the only way to compete in this market so I am leading workshops, writing articles, doing commissions as well as licensing stock images directly to clients. I prefer to deal directly with clients rather than depend on stock agencies. I pulled all my images from Getty and Alamy because the sales they were doing were laughable. I only supply work to smaller specialist agencies. About 10 years ago, I recognized the way of selling stock was changing and I had to change with it. Having a fully ecommerced website has helped immensely so I can sell high-res images while I am away on photo shoots.How do you prepare before going for a shoot?
I like to know the primary locations at my destination that will have the most sales potential so I research the area using the internet as much as possible before leaving. Then I talk to local people to find places that may not be well known on the internet, but still has a special appeal for viewers.Do you have a post-processing workflow?
I use Lightroom primarily, then Photoshop for any detailed retouching and finally Nik Color Effects Pro to finish off the image using pro contrast to correct any colour cast and to give the image a bit of lift or punch.What is the most important thing you think of before you press the shutter?
Whether to press the shutter or not, knowing when NOT to press the shutter is something that I have learned over the years. It’s very easy to be a machine gun photographer shooting everything that passes in front of your lens, but I think my years of using large format has given me the discipline to slow down and think about what makes a compelling image pressing the shutter only for images that appeal to me. This saves much time when editing my work in post processing.Lastly, what tips/advice do you have for other aspiring landscape photographers?
Get out and photograph as much as possible to continually improve your photography. Patience is a very important attribute of a landscape photographer as well as persistence. Don’t be complacent with the first image, ask yourself, can I improve the composition? Specialise in one aspect of photography instead of trying to do everything. Like the saying goes “Jack of all trades, master of none”.
Once again thank you Tom. If you would like to learn more about Tom's photography, simply go to his website here.