It's not all about the gear!
If ever there was case to follow from the subtitle of this blog it is that - It's not all about the gear.
This week I was delighted to have on my show David duChemin. Known for his travel and humanitarian photography, his Craft & Vision eBook publication network and now his latest podcast and videoed, short show on photography.
It's well documented and in addition David has shared with us in his blog, of the unfortunate accident he experienced in Italy whilst on a workshop. He was hospitalised for many months not only in Italy but in his home country, Canada. It was good to hear that he is well on the road to recovery now, but with a few additional screws! Suffice to say his trekking days could well be over but, instead it appears he has taken a liking to the 'exciting' sport of Scuba diving. In his attempt to reduce his gear load for his travels though, he seems to have run into a problem with an accumulation of Peli and water proof cases for his cameras. Despite this though he is determined to carry on with his exploration of photography.
David like many of us started off with a small totally automatic, Instamatic 110 camera. It wasn't long after that, that he came across an old Voigtlander camera his neighbour was looking to sell. This camera stayed with him for a long time. It was with him everywhere he went. He eventually progressed on to a Pentax 'Spotmatic' with a 55mm lens. Not being a competitive person photography really became a major part of his life. He spent a lot of time in the darkroom at high school where educationally, he did OK, as he says and went onto study Theology for 5 years along with his passion for photography at college. On leaving college he moved away from photography, thinking there was no real chance of making money from his passion. So, he moved to the stage and became a Comedian!
It wasn't until a chance visit down to Haiti when he was taking pictures that it dawned on him that this taking pictures is what he wanted to do! This move from comedy to photography seemed to me at the time to be 'poles apart'. But as David explained when you think about it they're not that much really. They are both creative but a different way to express oneself. There are many artists especially musicians, that have found another way to express themselves by using a camera. It wasn't till another 2 years later that David finally hung the comedian hat up and moved fully into a photography career.
David didn't find the transition that difficult. Although he didn't have a business plan he did know that he wanted to be a travel and humanitarian photographer. He was blogging at the time and his work was spotted. That led to several years of work for organisations photographing and writing about his travels. The best advertising is by word of mouth he said and he has been fortunate to have built so many great relationships via his blog. He appreciates that his style of photography coupled with his writing has helped enormously but the act of sharing, your work and knowledge, is a great thing to do!
As David says its not about the gear. He started off a digital photography life with a Canon but has used Leica, Hasselblad, Sony, Nikon and now Fuji. The secret is to have a camera that you love, that you are familiar with and one that doesn't get in the way of your creativity. He is not a great lover of his DSLR's now he enjoy's using his mirrorless cameras. When out working I asked him 'what are you looking for David? His reply was that he is not necessarily looking for a particular 'thing' but being consciousness of mood and story to record. He operates his camera's in a fully manual set up and yes there are times when he will use auto iso, aperture or shutter priorities!
Viewing David's work on the Screen-share where we took a look at two portfolios of Venice and Kenya: Black on white. I chose Venice as they show taking images in weather that some photographers would simple keep the camera in the pocket or even maybe stay in the coffee shops. David would rather be out in this sort of weather. It's the bright sunny days that drive him crazy and would probably keep him in or around the swimming pool. Studying the images of Venice he quietly announced they were taken with his iPhone 5 - AMAZING! I just didn't realise. I was thinking that the images were made with his Fuji or Sony given we see multiple exposure images of vibrance, saturation and detail. As he says no problem shooting out in the rain - Take an umbrella and enjoy the light! We enjoyed some superb images from Venice some taken just from his apartment window, using a slow shutter app and edited in camera using the VSCO App all with his iPhone 5 all created in camera. Moving onto the next portfolio shows Davids skill as the portraitist, in Kenya : Black on White. A collaborative venture project, using just a simple white background David made images in pairs of the villagers, to get the expression he was looking for. Sometimes as David says one image is enough but making several images you get a better opportunity of getting 'that' image.
David has had his images added to a stock library where he openly admits all the tagging, key-wording - the essential part of stock photography - has been done for him. He tried several libraries over time. But he has built a great relationship with Offset.com, where his work is held exclusively. In addition to his collaborative photography work and his stock photography David set up Craft & Vision. Purely by chance he created a book using In-design as an experiment as he wanted to to learn the programme. He created the book and thought it was really good and so released it as an eBook for just $5, with the idea of selling it a higher price later. The book was so popular and it continues to sell to this day still priced at $5 but the concept of ebooks and craft & vision started! Many other photographers have joined C&V, to write their books on various subject matters in photography. He would love to see some of the books printed but cost of printing is a major factor just now.
David's inspiration is his parents. Encourage to read by his mother (an RAF officer) and his father (who was in the Canadian military). His early years he remembers so well, travelling around Europe in the family car! I thought my next question that of his favourite photographer was going to be a difficult question for him as he has worked with so many. But to my surprise David didn't. His all time favourite, not that David thinks the photographer has been influenced by his work but it would be Elliott Erwitt, who shows expertise in comedy, composition and timing, and with a humain conscience. And who could argue with that!
Thanks David it was great pleasure to have you on the show.
Until next time "Leave your camera bag at home"
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