There are a handful of men and women who have played big roles in defining the industry of photography today. From wildlife, to landscapes, to street life, to portraits, to fashion, these individuals constantly set new standards and provide the rest of us with fresh sights of the world. It’s their experience, hard work, creativity, and vision that set them apart, and give the rest of us not only enlightenment or inspiration, but also something to strive for. The following are words by some of these photographers for us aspirants to digest and learn from.
Michael “Nick” Nichols
“One of the things that photography has special to offer is it’s a slice. It’s just a little moment out of time, and you’ve captured it in the box. And then you put it on the page. And you can look at it for a long time. It never goes away – that elephant just keeps charging. But that was only a 250th of second, back in the swamp. But now that’s going to live forever. That’s pretty neat.”
Michael Nichols, one of the world’s foremost wildlife photographers and National Geographic’s photography Editor-at-large reminds us of the beauty of photography: that what it is is not only a means to capture a moment, but a means to make that moment infinite, thereby giving the photographers a chance to make that moment bigger, more impactful, and more relevant.
“I don’t want anyone to appreciate the light or the palette of tones. I want my pictures to inform, to provoke discussion – and to raise money.”
Sebastiao Salgado is famous for his black and white masterpieces which don’t only leave an impression for their visual aesthetic, but also for their substance. His entire career has been dedicated to expressing larger truths about society and revealing sides to people, places, or situations which aim to give understanding and gain sympathy from its audience. His philosophy tells us of the power that photography holds; it’s not merely to show something beautifully, but to raise awareness, change perspectives, and improve lives.
David Alan Harvey
“I wanted to go back and do the original thing: one camera, one lens, one film. You really have to put yourself in a position of danger to be creative.”
Magnum photographer, National Geographic photojournalist, and Burn.org editor, what David Alan Harvey provides is a challenge. Whether physically or mentally, metaphorically or literally, the way to expand our creativity and our vision is to put ourselves outside our comfort zone. No matter how it is achieved, once we see and think outside the box, then we have more access to new ideas and new approaches.
”If you do something for a long time, it only gets more interesting, and I think that’s something that a lot of people shy away from; they don’t realise that if you stick with something, it gets more complicated, and it’s up to you to continue to grow it. You can have talent, but it can go away and you need to feed it. You need to take care of it and you need to find ways to inspire yourself.”
Perhaps most acknowledged for her ability to bridge the gap between artistic photography and commercial photography, Annie Leibovitz became known for her raw and captivating portraits of celebrities and international personalities. But more than the creative benefits of fame, connections, and opportunity, she believes that persistence and dedication are what really matter. Honing your craft is up to you alone, and the commitment and motivation to keep improving is really your foremost responsibility.
“…photography is not about how many lights you have. It is about spotting beauty, it is about seeing that you don’t need anything, because it’s about spotting what is right.”
Despite countless covers for Vogue and glamorous photo shoots with supermodels, Mario Testino shares a different angle on portraiture and fashion photography. At the end of the day, it’s not about the technicalities that make a photograph, but the content. It’s a testament that substance is what makes a photo, and not all the excess materials needed to make it happen. The subject is what it’s all about, and that should be the biggest priority.
At the end of the day, what these masters tell us is that photography is a powerful and influential tool, and to be able to wield it successfully, we must understand its essence and realise what we need to do in order to be effective at it.
Julia Escano – Shoot The Frame
Photographer: Annie Leibovitz