Interview with Ian Plant
#1 Please introduce yourself
I’m a full-time professional nature photographer. My photographs have appeared in a number of books, calendars, and magazines, including Outdoor Photographer and Popular Photography. I also write a regular blog column for Outdoor Photographer online, as well as my own personal photoblog. My website address is http://www.ianplant.com/
#2 How did you get interested in 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 while in law school and I realized then that I was completely hooked on photography. I went full-time as a photographer seven years ago and haven’t looked back since!
#3 Do you have an artistic/photographic background?
I can’t draw, paint, sculpt, or do anything else creative to save my life. Photography is about it for me.
#4 Which artist/photographer inspired your art?
From my earliest years as a photographer I was drawn to the work of the great landscape masters of the latter part of the 20th Century, including David Muench, Jack Dykinga, Carr Clifton, among others. The photographer who has influenced my work more than any other, however, is George Stocking, my good friend and early mentor. He is a master of composition and an American Southwest legend.
#5 How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph? Are you planning every step or is it always spontaneous?
I prefer to be as spontaneous as possible. To me, the magic of photography is in the moment. I’m not as obsessively focused on finding epic locations as many landscape photographers are. Rather, I’m attracted to rare moments when natural elements converge in a pleasing way, creating compelling compositions and mood. I try to stay as flexible as possible when shooting, letting the land and weather conditions guide my artistic vision.
#6 What fascinates you in places that you shoot?
Every wild place has its own unique beauty, and its own challenges. It is a nature photographer’s job to find that which is unique and special about a nature subject, and find a way to translate that beauty into a photograph that will relate to viewers.
#7 Could you please tell us something about your technique and creating process?
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 computer processing techniques 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. Don’t get me wrong – computer processing techniques have expanded our ability to capture the natural world around us, and I embrace many techniques accordingly. Although it seems these days that the distinction between “photography” and “computer art” has become rather fuzzy, I try to always keep this distinction in mind when shooting and processing images.
#8 Could you tell our readers how to reach such excellent results in photography?
My best advice is to shoot constantly. I don’t care how good you are – it takes a lot of shooting to make great shots. If you are not behind the viewfinder as much as possible, assessing the potential merits of any scene that inspires you or otherwise catches your eye, you’re going to miss out on a lot of great images. When in the field, constantly immerse yourself in the photographic process; you’ll be amazed at what you turn up.
#9 What do you do in your life besides photography?
Nothing – I do this for a living and don’t have any hobbies. Sometimes I think I live and breathe photography.
#10 What future plans do you have? What projects would you like to accomplish?
I just plan to keep doing more of what I am already doing—constantly traveling and exploring, finding new places to photograph. The world is full of interesting and inspiring places, and moments of wonder and awe. To me, that is what nature photography is all about—it is about experiencing the beauty of this planet, and recording those experiences for the world to share.
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