Scott, What first drew you to action photography and what keeps you there?
I started shooting photography as a way to make myself happy. It was during a transitional period in high school and I needed something I could do on my own that would let me focus my energy on something productive. I would shoot anything and everything I could, sometimes I would go on little solo day hikes to places I’d never been before. Something about going to a place completely new to me and figuring out how to capture it really drew me in. I first started shooting action photography when I went to Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan. I fell into an amazing group of talented highly adventurous friends so it was only a matter of time before I started incorporating people into wild landscapes. From there it was networking that led me to even wilder locations and professional athletes.
As a professional photographer how do you find your subjects?
Honestly networking and social media have been the key players in finding subjects and making great friends! Its super easy to find like-minded people on sites like Instagram and Facebook. I’ve met people online from all the way across the country that I’ve been able to meet up with and shoot together just from a friendship that started online. I try to focus on a visually compelling composition as well as a story when I make images. When I first started I got into the unhealthy habit of shooting a “one shot story” type of image, the one photo that I deemed Instagram-able but ultimately left out a lot of details about the subject. I do my best to capture realistic images as well, I try to do little post production work most of it being color-correction. All sorts of variables go into shooting adventure photography but the key ones are location and lighting both of which are very unpredictable create challenges of their own.
What are some of the challenges of photographing an action sport ?
Location and gear are some of the most challenging things you have to deal with when photographing action/adventure sports. The majority of photos I take are in locations that have incredibly harsh conditions, everything from blazing heat to frigid temps. When you’re dealing with locations that have that level of unpredictability having the right gear for the job is absolutely crucial. Everything from your camera to your socks has the ability to change the way you work in a specific environment. Canon cameras hold a charge in the cold better than any other camera system I’ve used, and they take a beating like a champ. There’s nothing like grabbing a few shots while belaying an ice climber and having to deflect the falling ice chunks from your face with your camera. Having the proper clothing system is also extremely important without being prepared your day can go from bad to worse really quickly.
What is the most memorable trip you have had in recent memory? What kind of hidden places did you get to explore?
I recently had the chance to explore Yosemite really briefly on a solo road trip out to California. If there’s any sort of heaven on earth is got to be Yosemite Valley. I honestly started to tear up seeing something with that much pure beauty. When I originally drove in the valley it was really foggy and you couldn’t see anything but as soon as I got beyond the cloud cover it was like looking into a different world. You don’t know a what a big cliff is until your standing at the base of El Cap looking straight up into the abyss. I was fortunate enough to take a swim in the river that runs through the middle of the valley as well. Some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen, and I’m from the great lakes area so that’s saying something.
What equipment do you use to captures your footage? What are some of the challenges of using them?
I’m kind of a die-hard Canon fan. There cameras are so tough and have gotten me through some crazy situations. I currently shoot on the canon 7d mark 2 with what I call the holy trinity of lenses. Canons L series lenses that cover all focal lengths from 11mm to 400mm. I also weirdly enough purchase used gear, I found that the majority of it works almost exactly like new and is a fraction of the cost enabling me to save cash for trips. I shoot on a crop sensor camera which (the 7d mark 2) I’ve found it does a great job for everything that I need it for. I’ve shot everything from billboard images to Instagram moments on that thing and it delivers every time.
What advice would you give to someone embarking on their first adventure?
Don’t be afraid to take on your adventure solo. You won’t learn more about yourself than during a solo adventure. Whether it be a solo kayak around your local lake or a spontaneous trip across the country finding how you handle being alone in difficult situations is incredibly valuable.
People are different everywhere you go. The basic thing everyone has to offer is a smile, it brings down the wall between someone you don’t know and it could be the beginning to an awesome friendship. Don’t be afraid to meet people online, and swallow your pride and ask for help when you need it.
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