Photography : "Live and Uncut" - Episode 53 with Curtis Simmons.

Curtis Simmons

Curtis Simmons

It was a great pleasure for Curtis Simmons to join me on my show last week. In between some important meetings he found the time to talk to me in the early hours of New Zealand time. Curtis is COO of Trey Ratcliff's 'Stuck in Customs' and also The Arcanum. He and Trey Ratcliff go back a long way but It wasn't until 2012 that he was asked to help 'steer the ship',as he says, as Trey's photography world was developing fast.

His first camera that he bought was  Nikon D60 purely as a travel camera, to use on those special occasions. He had no interest in the technicality of photography ie. exposure and depth of field and his photographs showed that. At his own admittance they weren't very good. It wasn't until working with Trey from 2012, that he has been able to improve on his photography! Quite a tutor to have readily available, wouldn't you say!

He soon switched from his Nikon to the Sony NEX 7, which he found suited him and a superb camera to work with: Light but packed quite a punch in producing stunning images. That camera got used quite a bit and was almost destroyed at 'The Burning Man' festival with all the dust! The next camera he moved onto was the NEX 6 - a crazy Sony name as it superseded the 7! But, it was an even better camera and since the Curtis has now moved onto the Sony Alpha 6000. He hasn't been tempted by the A7 series, as he feels this wouldn't be a camera that he would benefit from...

Curtis has been very fortunate to travel a lot, to countries  such as Vietnam, Africa, France and Dubai. Africa sticks in his mind as maybe his favourite, because of the wildlife and the amazing experiences, but everywhere he has visited he has found the people are so friendly! He moved to New Zealand (why not as Trey would say!), mainly for business reasons with The Arcanum but also for the experience of living in another country, getting to know the people, and the local culture in Queeenstown.

At this point we went to screen-share to enjoy Curtis' photographs, And what a set of images! The images we looked at were all taken with mirrorless Nex series cameras. The majority of the images are edited in Lightroom with a few plugins. Many of the images are taken locally of the amazing landscape around the Queenstown area, some of which are simply a 5 minute walk from his house! We looked at a number of landscape images but it was the images from Africa that caught my eye especially the mono shots of the zebras and the elephants. But if one image is going to 'stun you' it is the charging Hippo! He was lucky he said... Lucky or not he was ready and so was the camera! Brilliant. (Interesting to note here, as I zoomed in you can see the fantastic quality and sharpness of the image!)

After the screen-share we talked about The Arcanum, this amazing school of learning that Trey Ratcliff, Peter Giordano and Curtis have started. It is a way of learning that is different from a school style. Learning from a Master (Your main tutor) and from your fellow apprentices in the Cohort (Class) - that latter part is the unique learning experience! The concept was thought of some time ago by Trey but eventually it was time to post the application form in November 2013, to see what the reaction was. It surpassed their thoughts and expectations they got 2000 applications! WOW! By February they had over 4000 covering over 110 countries! A call for Curtis to get the software up and running. No panic! So it was decided that they better get to work and set The Arcanum up! Then the conundrum at the start, as Curtis explains (with reference to 'Uber' - the taxi app) 'What do you get first? The cab driver or the passenger? This has now repeated itself as I patiently wait in the Lounge (20), to be selected for the next focussing spheres, this is a little frustrating to be honest but as Curtis explains you have to get the critical mass (depending on the genre) before getting the masters to select their cohort. When you consider what has been created its no wonder that it has taken some time to run 100% smoothly.

Interestingly although he admire's Trey's photography, there are many photographers that he would call favourites Jeremy Cowart, Karen Hutton and Sebastiao Salgado in particular. And it would be Sebastiao that he finds as an inspiration!

It was a privilege to have Curtis on my show, especially as he had agreed to be my guest in such a busy time for him.

Thanks Curtis.

Until next time "Leave your camera bag at home"

 

The all important links...

Photography Live and Uncut with Curtis Simmons

Curtis on Facebook

Curtis in Twitter

Curtis on Google+