1) With technology & gadgets becoming better, lighter & easier to travel with (iPhones, iPads, Mavic Pro drones etc) what gear do you travel overseas with?
The advancements of digital photography – even in just the last five years – has been astounding. There was a period of time where photographers using dSLRs would have to walk a fine line between what they envisioned to capture with their camera and what it was actually capable of capturing.
I remember all the times I lamented over the results of my night and astral photos because the sensors at the time were simply not as good as they are today. Even taking a drone with me to a shoot used to be dreadful and almost always required a second bag to carry it in.
Fortunately, we’ve not only seen advancements in imaging technology with digital cameras, we’ve also been able to benefit from them taking on smaller and lighter form factors, thanks in part to mirrorless. And the drone space has massive benefits too.
With regards to my kit, I’ve been shooting with Sony a7 series bodies since the first a7 came out. My current setup consists of the jaw-dropping Sony a7R III and a9 bodies, along with a series of lenses that change depending on my needs for the shoot.
My drone of choice at the moment is the DJI Mavic Pro but the new Mavic Air does have me drooling a bit.
Although I would rather have seen a robust refresh to the existing Mavic Pro (not counting the Platinum) that keeps its size and weight over the svelte Mavic Air.
The funny thing with talking about size and weight when it comes to lenses though, is that it has become cyclical. Let’s use Sony as an example. Their first generation of zoom lenses for the a7-series were all small and light. BUT, they were also fixed at a max aperture of f/4.
Naturally, photographers begged Sony to make faster glass and after a few years, the manufacturer obliged with their GM line. However, they’re all notably larger and heftier than their slower siblings.
So from the lens side of things, I’d say it’s a wash… unless you’re packing certain prime lenses, like the Zeiss Loxia line. Those are some of my absolute favorite lenses in the world.
They’re tiny, lightweight and built like tanks. They’re manual focus though, but I see that as a benefit than a hindrance. [DISCLAIMER: I am a Zeiss Lens Ambassador]
2) What tools / marketplace do you use for your images? (Stock photo sites etc)
Those will always be front and center when it comes to sharing new content. Beyond that, I use a service called Buffer to schedule my social media posts on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook throughout each week. I’ve also been spending a lot more time creating value-added videos on my YouTube channel.
As far as licensing photos, I do maintain an account with Stocksy and have enjoyed my experience working with them. It has been a nice source of passive income.
3) How do you plan your adventure travel? (Online tools / Apps / Research etc)
I tend to be averse to large crowds, so when I do travel for a shoot, I prefer doing so during their off-season. It usually results in less crowds and flights/lodging is almost always less expensive.
Whenever I choose a destination, I evaluate how much “mileage” I can feasibly get out of the location. Example, if I go to Iceland, I’ll take advantage of Iceland Air’s “My Stopover” promotion and also fly to another European destination with a nominal upcharge.
Once a destination is set and the travel arrangements have been made, I’ll do some gentle research on photos that others have already taken. This usually involves going to sites like 500px, as well as doing Google image searches of the location and the time of year that I’ll be going (e.g. “Tokyo Japan November” or “Death Valley Winter”).
I’ll also look at historical almanacs to see what previous weather conditions have been.
If it’s a place I haven’t yet been to, I’ll do my due diligence in ensuring that I understand the local culture and make sure that I’ve got the proper visas, vaccinations, and currency when applicable.
Sometimes, I’ll create a custom Google Maps view with pins and waypoints that I want to see. I like that platform because it also has a robust sharing/collaboration feature. I also recently used an app called Roadtrippers to plan a five day road trip throughout the US.
One app in particular that I’ve come to rely on, especially when I’m shooting landscapes, is PhotoPills. I absolutely love how much it has grown over the years. It has become indispensable in helping me visualize where the sun and moon will be throughout the course of the day using my iPhone’s camera and augmented reality.
4) How do you find balance in life between your mission (your creativity) and everything else?
Fortunately, my profession is photography. Or rather, my business is creating content about photography that helps other photo enthusiasts grow their passion. So, in that sense, there isn’t much balance because I always am doing what I love: either taking photos or creating some sort of content about photography.
I’m also doubly lucky to be married to Nicole S. Young, a professional photographer who has also been featured here. Having your spouse understand the unique requirements of being a working photographer makes things a lot easier.
5) If you could take your photographic art in any direction without fear of rejection or failure, where would it lead? What new things would you try?
That’s a tough one. I don’t have a fear of rejection or failure with my current work. In fact, I welcome it because it’s the greatest way for me to grow. Honestly, I’d be open to trying any type of photography that I’m not currently well-versed in.
I rarely shoot portraits because I’m red/green colorblind and that makes it difficult for me to properly adjust skin tone, so perhaps that’d be a fun direction to explore. ☺