Archive for February, 2010

Occasional thoughts on photography…

February 26, 2010

When I was writing my original travel blog I used the phrase “If it was easy – everyone would be doing it…” this got me to thinking about the current state of the photographers lot because my implication was that photography was not easy and that not many people were attempting to do it for a living. I think this may of been a little misleading!

A quick online search or a look at the list of photographers on the members list of any of the main directories and associations quickly dispels the “everyone would be doing it ” part. However whether they are doing it well is probably the topic of another blog entirely!

As to the “If it were easy..” bit, that’s also a relative question of course. If it’s something you love doing it’s obviously easier to you than doing something you hate. However the advent of digital photography has democratised the image making process. At least when we were shooting on film and for those of us involved in the printing process, there was at least a degree of mystery and alchemy involved in the chemical process. My feeling now is that almost anyone with a digital camera can get a half decent image and you have to admit everything does have a lookalike feel as everyone it seems is now a master photoshop technician…

Not that I hate digital – (although I was dragged kicking and screaming from my Nikon f5 film camera and favorite film stock) – it’s just that now there is no choice and I do genuinely miss the organic feel of film. A bit like comparing vinyl to Cd to use the old analogy. I suppose in image making terms vinyl might have a more appealing tone to it but can you really be bothered with all the effort of turning it over to hear side two…?

It seems to me that the only photographers (if you can still really call them photographers – that is) still guaranteed a future in the industry are the ones involving themselves in CGI!

“If it was easy, everyone would be doing it…” on assignment in Lapland

February 18, 2010

“If it was easy, everyone would be doing it…” That’s what Geoff, my old college tutor, used to say to me as he was rejecting my latest photography efforts back in 1995 and in a way what he said drove me on to became a travel photographer. Well It’s up there in the pantheon of dream jobs isn’t it, traveling around the world taking pictures for a living. Although like any passion, after a while you do get a love/hate relationship with it, and things are rarely easy or straight forward are they?

I thought it might be fun to talk about some of the places and experiences I’v had working as a travel photographer and to keep an occasional travel journal as I go along on new assignments. I hope you find it interesting, please let me know what you think.

Lapland for Lonely Planet Magazine: The job was to travel with a family of Sami herdsmen for a couple of weeks while they guided their Reindeer herds through sub zero Northern Sweden. Apparently it’s in the list of top 50 things you have to do before your fifty…

First thing I notice is that the snow is 4 – 6 feet deep and we are wearing very thick all in one suits over our already thickly layered winter wear. I’v never been a skiier so this was an interesting new experience. It makes moving around a wee bit difficult & we waddle around like giant toddlers in romper suits! Add to this the huge effort it takes to walk through waist deep snow & despite the subzero temperatures I’m sweating like a pig and wishing I was a lot younger & fitter! Umm – better make that top 50 things to do before your forty!

Sub-Zero_Protection_Padded_Jumpsuit_Lonely_Planet_Lapland

A Missing Scene from Star wars - No Just Writer Amanda In A Jumpsuit

Nowadays the reindeer herders use snowmobiles rather than ski’s, thankfuly. However this is a cross between riding a very frisky motorbike and a jet-ski. Needless to say, after an eight hour day of riding, well I say riding… more an assorted falling off, digging out, getting on, falling off… (Repeat when necessary), I’m left feeling compleatly knakered & wishing I was a lot younger & fitter!

Staying_On_Ones_Feet-Not_Always_Easy

Staying On Ones Feet - Not Always Easy

Just_Another_Tog_Along_For_The_Ride

The only way to travel!

Still I should get a good nights sleep. Oh, by the way, I’m sleeping in a lavu – traditional tipi type tent with five heavy snorers at minus 12 •c. I luv this job – lol!

Sleeping_Quarters

The Lavu - Surprisingly Comfortable Sleeping Quarters-Even at minus 20!

Tomorrow it’s – how to survive a White-out at 2000 meters at minus 20•c… And by the way we can’t find the route down off the mountain…

White Out On Sacred Mountain

White Out On Sacred Mountain

But hey don’t panic! Why? Because we have a secret weapon, that’s why! His name is Kenneth. He’s big, he’s hairy, he’s hard! It’s his Reindeer herd, he knows these hills like the back of his hand and after a few false starts he manages to find us a path down. Just as well really as its getting on for 11pm, we’ve been on the trail for a good 14 hours and we are all cold and tired. Mind you – “If it was easy – everyone would be doing it…”

Kenneth - A Hero In Every Way

On a positive note – this is one of the best things I’v ever done – It’s exhilarating, surreal and completely sublime and it was a real privilage to experience an aspect of the Sami way of life  and the good news is – you can do it too with Lennart Pittja at Pathfinder Lapland – Thanks also to the wonderful folk at Lonely Planet Magazine for sending me there! You can see the finished article in the Dec 09 issue of Lonely Planet Magazine and more images at http://www.garylatham.co.uk

G