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Posts Tagged ‘National Geographic’

Michael “Nick” Nichols National Geographic Photographer

I spend a huge amount of time on a story, but I don’t take that much time to make it easier. A Geographic assignment is going to take a year of my life any way you slice it, because that’s what it takes to get it.

The editor and the director of photography and my editor tell me what to do, but the reality is simple. There’s only one person that goes out the door, and the story has to be made from what I took pictures of. I’m on my own out there. One of the things I think people misunderstand is that there’s nobody that gives you a list or anything, there’s not a whole lot of research that anybody else does. In my case, I usually dream up the stories and try to sell them to my editors.

When I’ve gotten the assignment, I do as much research as humanly possible about the subject. My rule of thumb is usually I spend as much time in the field as I do preparing. So, two months in the field means two months preparing. Even if 90 percent of that research is useless, it’s important. When I’m doing research, ideas about pictures come to my head. That doesn’t mean I’m going to go out and set up pictures, but it gives me a lot of ideas so I can hit the ground running. And as long as I let serendipity through, I’ll still get pictures that just happen. But by going to all the places that I’ve lined up, all the little pieces should start to give us a whole and tell us something about Indonesia or tigers or whatever the particular subject is.

Learning languages is good, though I have to say it’s overrated because I don’t speak languages. I wish that I had learned them as a child, so if you’re really young and you’re reading this, definitely study languages. If I had learned all the languages of places I’ve worked at, you know, I’d just be a linguist. You can do fine drawing pictures, with facial expressions. The language you do want to learn, though, is how to be polite in that culture. If you can say hello to people, good afternoon, thank you, they’ll know, okay, he’s made some effort. And you’ve got to learn what not to do, all those things you can do wrong. You don’t want to make a cultural faux-pas.

I shot 2,000 rolls of film on the Megatransect — how can I not make a hundred good pictures? I would just say try it. It has nothing to do with quantity. Well, it does — I’d much rather have 2,000 rolls than have 2. I wouldn’t want to be put on a rationing diet, because the reason you shoot a lot of film is because the shooting, the pushing of the button, brings you around. It’s like an experiment. You’re dancing. And then you realize, aaaah, that’s where the real dance is — over there! And you zero in on it and make the real frame. So all the bad pictures and the garbage you discard.

But you have to be able to see, and you have to have a point of view. To say photography is completely objective isn’t correct, because it’s not. It’s my point of view about tigers. It’s my point of view about chimps, or central Africa. And I think that’s it — that’s when I realized I really was a photographer, when I saw that I was starting to express myself. That’s why I think it takes 5 years. There’s a point when you’re copying somebody else, or you’re just trying to do what Time magazine wants you to. I don’t do what I think National Geographic wants me to do. I did maybe on the first project, because I was scared to death. But quickly I learned that this is my vehicle, and I can drive this thing. I mean, 2000 people work in the building, but there are only so many of us that go out in the field and do that work, and we can drive the train. And so having a point of view is absolutely essential, and no amount of money or film gets you that. It’s so easy to take boring pictures.

At the Geographic, which is different than other publications, the photographer is involved all the way to the final layout. It’s a fine art to working that situation, because I know that it’s not the 80 good pictures that I got. What the world’s going to see are12 or 20. And if I don’t think a lot about how those go on the page and the display of them, then I’m not really following it all the way through. I got frustrated with the magazine industry because other magazines just took my pictures and published them however they wanted. And everything’s so subjective — you’ve got thirty frames, and the hand is in a different place in each of them — and there might be a particular nuance to a frame that I’m going to push for.

In the past Geographic didn’t assign a staff photographer to do something like wild tigers, they’d have assigned a tiger scientist and said look, you’ve got a few grants here, and when you come up with enough pictures we’ll publish a story on tigers. And the weakness of that is that there’s no point of view. It’s just a scientist’s pictures about tigers. I look at the big story that goes with it. At the same time I want to go out there and spend the same amount of time that scientist did to get pictures of tigers. And I’ve been lucky enough to be able to do that.

I work so hard in the field and what I do is so intense. I go underground for nine months and don’t come up for air. I don’t have a lot of tolerance for someone who can’t get that obsessed.

But there’s another side to that, too. Somebody like Dave Alan Harvey, his whole gig is being lyrical. It’s not that he has to work so hard, it’s that he has to interact and he has to capture those moments around him. There’s so many ways for photography to work.

But whether or not I can maintain that intensity another ten years, I don’t know. I physically don’t think I can — I’m falling apart. Five knee surgeries, I’ve had malaria like 20 times, all this shit. And I would also like to see what young photographers want to do. That’s why I’m thinking about starting a photography foundation, giving out grants, which is all about nurturing young photojournalists, which is exactly what I want to do with this website.

Taken from Michael “Nick” Nichols web site lots of information

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Bruce Dale

 

With over two thousand photographs published by National Geographic, Bruce Dale’s vision and creativity twice earned him the title “Magazine Photographer of the Year.” In 1989 he was named “White House Photographer of the Year” and more recently, his innovative work with digital imaging brought him honors from the Smithsonian Institution. In addition to many other awards, one of his photographs now journeys beyond the solar system on board NASA’s Voyager Spacecraft, as testimony about planet Earth.

Dale has photographed in over 75 countries throughout the world including 10 trips to China. His work ranges from sensitive people studies such as his books on Gypsies and American Mountain People, to his highly technical work such as working with pulsed laser photography to help produce a hologram of an exploding crystal ball for the Geographic’s 100th Anniversary cover.

One of his more memorable photos involved mounting two cameras on the tail of a Lockheed TriStar jumbo jet to make spectacular views of the big jet in flight. One, a 23 second time exposure, led to a three page gatefold in the Geographic—the other a cover on the magazine.

He considers his favorite images are those serendipitous moments totally alien to the well planned picture. “I actually plan on the unplanned picture in an attempt to capture the spontaneity and mood of the moment.”

Dale left National Geographic to pursue a blend of editorial and corporate and advertising photography. His book, The American Southwest, was published by National Geographic in January of 1999.

From high tech to board room portraits, Bruce brings his patience, problem solving ability, and experience in working with “real people” to good use in making images come to life. Corporate and advertising clients since leaving the Geographic include: Acura, Allstate, American Airlines, Caterpillar, Epson America, Getty Foundation, Harriet & Henderson, Mack Truck, Nikon, Matsushita Industries, Quintile Corporation, Shell Oil, Southwest Airlines, Southwest Parks, The Tropical Forest Foundation, Trammel Crow, and Willis & Geiger. Have a look at the website http://www.brucedale.com/ this site is full of lots of information.

 

 

Interview with Bruce

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One Week in the MSc

Next week, in the MSc Biological photography and Imaging there will be one of the most eventful weeks that we have had this semester. Tuesday we have Geoff Espin coming in, Geoff has been photographing Orchids for most of his life, the vast knowledge that he has just on this one subject is beyond most humans brain capacity. Geoff has a vast knowledge on macro photography and tips, tricks for using flash in the field. Wednesday Philip Songhurst will be in, one of the items that Philip will be covering is the interactive apps, plus he will be covering ethical marketing. Wednesday afternoon Marcin Jamkowski and Michael Barnes will be visiting. Both Marcin and Michael are Knight Fellows from the class of 2009-10 at MIT. Michael is a television producer and writer whose work has appeared on television both here in the UK and in the USA. Marcin is a writer he has worked in Africa (Mali, Morocco, Madagascar, Egypt), Amazon Sources (Peru), Belize, USA, Korea, and Russia and all over Europe. Marcin is working for National Geographic Poland – as the Editor in Chief. At the end of the week when we visit Slimbridge WWT you meet the worlds best know female marine biologist, photographer, writer of many books and naturalist Professor Heather Angel

MSc Biological Photography & Imaging

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