In these interviews I hope to highlight some of the best photographers on Steemit, so that we can all get to know them a little better. Make sure you follow them!
Mark Weich is a fellow Steemian, and photographer, currently living in Japan.
He talks about how he got started in photography, his advice for beginners, and some of his favorite shots and proudest moments.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you’re from, when and how you started in photography, and the type of jobs that you’ve done.
I’m a Canadian living in Japan. Like many residents from other countries my Monday to Friday job is teaching English. Photography is currently a hobby and sometimes freelance job. I’ve always liked taking photos but bought my first DSLR after becoming frustrated while trying to take a picture of a cherry blossom!
I had a small point-and-shoot digital camera, water proof and quite nice, however, the shutter lag caused me to miss every shot of that cherry blossom! The next weekend I went to the store and picked up a Canon EOS Kiss MkII with the kit lens and have never looked back!
Since then, my freelance photography has included a wedding, portrait sessions, concerts and some interior photography as well! Photography based on my interests, macro, cityscape, street, cosplay, hasn’t made much through traditional channels but with the wonderful Steemit, has well eclipsed what I have earned over all of the previous freelance jobs.
How did you find Steemit? What brought you here?
I think I first saw mention of Steemit in a thread on reddit and it mentioned something about getting paid in crypto currency for blogging. Since I was already blogging on my own personal blogspot blog, I thought I’d give Steemit a shot and try to get $1.
It turned out much better than that!
Are you self taught or did you go to school for photography?
I’m self taught. There are a great number of photography blogs, youtube channels that teach about photography, it can be difficult to find good ones though. One of the best I’ve found is David Hobby’s “Strobist” blog, while it teaches mostly about off camera lighting, it is good for learning the basics of photography too.
Which photographers influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photographing, and career path?
I think the biggest influence would have been the photographers and editors for National Geographic magazine: a perfect mix of exploration, science and beautiful photography. Those are the types of pictures I aspire to make!
How would you describe your style?
Exploratory. I always want to reveal hidden details or scenes from angles that people may not be familiar with. Or sometimes I’m the one exploring and documenting my point of view to communicate it to others.
What keeps you motivated in photography?
I’m a very curious person and really like to explore new places and things. Through photography I can share the interesting things that I have found. It’s very satisfying to have someone say, “Wow, I’d never thought of spiders as beautiful before!” in response to showing them a few of my pictures.
Another motivation that has recently crystallized for me is how photos can influence the thinking of others, how they can change ideas and concretely build peace and understanding. I’ve not done much work in this area yet, but I hope to start doing so soon.
What’s your favorite subject matter and why?
Currently my favourite genre of photography is macro photography, I really like being able to make beautiful pictures of the small things that are often overlooked. If you take a look at my posts on Steemit or my portfolio, you will see an abundance of jumping spiders; I think they are fantastic! While you can watch them crawl around on the desk and it is interesting, it really does take photography to truly appreciate such small subjects. As the year is getting colder it will soon be more of a shift to cityscape photography which I think is particularly nice to do during the winter nights.
What was your scariest moment as a photographer?
I haven’t been in any dangerous situations for photography but getting too close to the Giant
Asian Hornet was a bit scary!
and your proudest moment?
I like the delicate details of this picture, it was a challenging photo to take. The Hummingbird Hawkmoth is a very fast flyer and by happenstance it came to the flower that was where I was waiting. The wings are at the top of their range. An instant, invisible to our own eyes, frozen in time. Now, it can be appreciated in fine detail. And I made this possible.
That is perhaps what makes me proud of this image.
When you go out in the field or travel, what do you take with you? Why?
It really depends on what I’m out there for, if it’s macro photography, I’ll take my camera with the 105mm macro lens on it (it might as well be glued on, it’s hardly ever off the camera!), recently I’ve also started to carry a speedlight to help light the subjects that I find.
Going into the city: I’ll take the 50mm lens and a wide angle lens: the 50mm for street photography and the wide angle 10-20mm for cityscapes, grabbing the tripod is always a wise choice!
Travel: I would take the city kit but might leave out the tripod and add the macro lens or a telephoto.
Bags: get a backpack with a frame and waistbelt! I can carry my entire interior kit: camera, tripod, 2x(lightstand,speedlight,umbrellas) wide angle lens, 50mm lens and more, comfortably! Before that I had a camera backpack which fit all of the above gear but didn’t have a frame, it was ok for moving stuff about 500m, after that my back would start to hurt (cost 2x the regular hiking pack too!)
What kind of tools do you use for post processing? Briefly explain your work flow.
I almost exclusively use Lightroom for post processing. It does nearly everything I need it to without destroying the original image. My work flow generally goes like this: I get back from taking some pictures and import the photos into Lightroom, delete the absolute failures, then go back and work through the remaining photos picking out the good photos, adjust the levels and spot correct any hot pixels and such until it looks the way I want it to.
Then it’s time to choose the very best and publish them, or save them until I have enough to put together into a post of some kind.
How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
I like to look through sites like flickr, 500px and so on to inspire myself. Sometimes I’ll see an interesting picture, try to reverse engineer it and make a similar picture. Browsing like this helps to expose myself to different styles of photography and new ideas for composition and techniques.
Steemit photo contests are also good motivators! I remember I hadn’t done much minimalist photography until it came up as a theme for a photo contest, now it is another thing I take into consideration when I’m out taking pictures. I’ll also read up on different techniques or watch a tutorial on youtube to work out how something was done.
Reading and watching can only go so far, so after doing that, it’s time to start experimenting!
Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?
Wow, that’s a difficult question! I like to shoot many different genres but currently I’m going to say this picture:
At least for today and the mood I’m in now. I feel it tells a story, no words need to be written but something is communicated between the viewer of the photo and the subject.
It is also a bit reminiscent of Vermeer’s painting “The girl with a Pearl Earing.” I like the play on words and composition.
Who are your favorite contemporary photographers?
Christina Otero - amazing make-up and self portrait work.
BRANDON STANTON: HONY - This kind of work, particularly his projects in Afghanistan and Iran help build peace.
Mihaela Noroc : Atlas of Beauty - Wonderful portraits of women that like HONY help make the world a better place.
I’m not really into celebrity or following famous people, I do like the work of the above photographers but there are many more whose work I admire but haven’t really remembered their names.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
I do wish I had started photography more seriously, sooner. However, since time travel doesn’t
exist I’ll just have to do my best from now on!
What’s your advice for beginners?
Your gear or lack of it does not matter. It’s what is behind the camera. Any camera can be a starting point, more complex cameras allow you to have more fine control over the image you want to make but the great photographers of the past had worse gear and their pictures are great.
Sticking to the basic “rules” of composition is fine, through experience you’ll be able to understand how those rules work and when to follow them or not, to bring your vision to life. Attempting to mimic the composition of successful photographers is an important way to learn to take those kinds of pictures, then to develop your own interpretation. It’s also important that you take the pictures you want to take, don’t submit your artistry to someone else’s ideals, use your own.
Get out there and JUST DO IT!
If you're an active photographer on Steemit, and would like to do this interview through my page, contact me! I'm looking for more.