Photography : "Live and Uncut" - Episode 41 with Rick Sammon

He educates.

I opened the show - after having a disastrous attempt the previous evening to get the show going - lost for words to be honest! My guest this week was non-other than Rick Sammon, the Godfather of photography as nicknamed by Trey Ratcliff.

Rick had very kindly offered to reschedule the show despite his heavy workload and what an honour it was to speak to him.

You are all no doubt aware that Rick majored in music out of Music school and chose the path of teaching music. It was whilst taking pictures as well as teaching music , that he took a photograph of himself reflected on a toaster with a old time 'view-camera'. That photograph was published, he was then asked to write an article, which the magazine liked also and 3 months later he was asked to be the Editor of the magazine for 3 years! That magazine was the Studio Photography Magazine, for which he interviewed many famous photographers of the day. For over 40 years now, he has been involved with photography from a chance opportunity to send his photograph in to a magazine, he is now widely recognised as a major influence in photography and to photographers. He is a firm believer of taking opportunities and taking charge of reality and being aware. He may never of reached the 'dizzy' heights of music concerts in-front of thousands of fans (well maybe hundreds with Scott Kelby and his band) but he certainly has reached those heights with his photography. 

He switched to Digital photography in 2000 during a trip to Cuba. On his return he simply sold all his film camera equipment and made the switch for good to digital, there and then, he recognised this was the way to go. He has always been a Canon user. He even showed the latest mini, multi sensor sized Canon! You have to see it to believe! But he is a Canon 5d MKiii user which is his work horse and from what he was saying I don't think he would change that for anything... His first recollection of a camera was his fathers polaroid camera which he showed and then his first camera was a box camera similar to a box Brownie.

He hasn't used mirror-less cameras, as his work demands the use of long lenses and the shallow depth of field offered that they can offer for his nature photography. Interestingly he immediately made the comparison there are so many cameras out there like guitars that do a job and hold their note in a different way. The same with cameras. Great tools or toys depending on what your trade is! He usual set up for his camera is usually aperture priority only using manual setup for HDR of when using flash. He sticks with aperture priority is what he learned on and is happy working that way...

Going to screen-share, Rick was kind enough to talk through some of his images on his website. It suddenly occurred to me that his website through Squarespace, is deliberately set up to educate. Always thankful to the people that had helped him to get the images the drivers, the guides, including his wife, I didn't realise this before but he has a selection of images showing close images that are tightly cropped, then sets the scene with a wider view showing the scene of the animal in his natural habitat and images taken of animals using flash! His images of the people are sharp and again he educates us with the use of lenses that are correct for the use of telling the story. The gallery Route 66 - my favourite - showed Rick using a different style. The use of subtle HDR and getting as close as I can think to street / observational photography. Again each image he spoke about was put on the site to educate a particular style depth of field, separation, composition and story telling. As photographers we are story tellers he said - many times! (and its worth noting that). His website is worth a visit and as I said early, that if you can't find something something on this site which is interest to you, you wont find it anywhere and also the site is set up for you to learn from. Amazing.

By the way his gear for the Safari's and Travel work, is with a 200-400mm f4 with the internal 1.4x converter, a 70-300mm, a 24-105mm, a 17-40mm and 2 Canon 5d MKiii, he doesn't bother with a smaller camera except for his iPhone 6.

Through the show at 42mins we lost the link on Google+! Thanks to Rick he stuck around and I joined him soon after... I started to lose confidence in the link so we moved onto the favourite photographer and inspiration section of the show. Rick is not really one to choose a favourite photographer, but was more inclined to talk of his favourite painter Vemeer (The girl with the pearl earring). He found though that he was inspired by the photographic work of Steve McCurry.

Rick was an underwater photographer for 20 years - he did nothing but that for 20 years. Something that we couldn't really talk much about as time was against us. But he produced 6 or 7 book and 'Under the Sea" in 3D for the kids (with 3D glasses) the book was amazingly turned down by National Geographic. It went on to be a best seller all over the world!

My thanks to Rick for sparing his time a thoroughly enjoyable conversation and boy! Did I learn a thing or two.

Thanks Rick.


The all important links

Photography : "Live and Uncut" with Episode 41 with Rick Sammon

The website for Rick Sammon

Rick Sammon on Facebook

Rick Sammon on Google+

Rick Sammon on Twitter