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Interview and Q&A

Several years ago, I joined Flickr in an attempt to promote my work.  I was very active on the site for some time, posting a new photo nearly every day in hopes of expanding my audience and perhaps generating sales.  The latter didn’t really work out.  I don’t find Flickr to be a great marketing tool, but it does still get my images out there in front of a different audience, people that may not follow this blog, or my posts on Facebook.

Nearly five years ago I was the Featured Photographer in the The World Through My Eyes Flickr group.  This honor typically involved sharing the stories behind a couple of favorite images and answering some standard questions.  I thought it would be appropriate to repost the interview here, both to provide some info you may not know about me, and also to look back and see what may have changed since 2011.  I’ve added some new commentary in response to some of my answers below.

Thanks again to TWTME admin Jill Ferry for selecting me for this interview.

TWTME: I asked Max to choose two of his favourite photos.

Wild mountain lion

Max: A lot of my favorite photo encounters seem to feature wild cats. They are obviously photogenic subjects and, in the case of most species in the western hemisphere, are extremely elusive. So this was something of dream encounter. On one of my autumn trips I set aside two days to sit in a tree up in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, hoping for some sort of wildlife to show up at the natural spring below. On the first evening this mountain lion appeared just after sundown and spent a couple minutes slaking its thirst.

Slough Creek Pack Alpha Male

Those familiar with my stream know I spend a lot of time in Yellowstone National Park. This remains my favorite Yellowstone moment. While a crowd of 200 wolf watchers were focusing on a black wolf way out in the valley, I had a quiet moment with the pack’s alpha male, standing on the hillside directly above me. He howled and then headed down toward the road. The mob soon turned and spotted him, but I got my private moment.

2015 Note: These probably remain my favorite two photo moments.  You can see more from the mountain lion encounter in the Archive.  The wolf photo and other images from that Yellowstone trip haven’t been transferred over yet.

TWTME: How long have you been involved in photography?

About 13 years now (2015 Note: Technically since my one college photo class in 1998). I’ve been artistic since childhood, but it wasn’t until I reached the tail end of college that I had a chance to play in the darkroom and grow to love photography.

TWTME: Equipment you use?

Canon prosumer bodies (7D and older), with lenses ranging from 10mm to 500mm.

2015 Note: Still Canon, now using anything from a 7DII to a 1DX… Jenn primarily uses the 7D these days.

TWTME: Mac or PC?

Mac. I used both for several years, but eventually needed to streamline my software. Mac won out. I don’t miss the blue screens.

TWTME: What inspires you?

“Good art,” which can really include anything from the Oscars to the work I’ve seen on Flickr. Also, wilderness survival shows. There’s almost a childlike sense of adventure that they bring out in me… makes me want to grab my gear and head off into the jungle for a couple weeks. The opportunity to give people a glimpse of the wild world out there means a lot to me as well, and probably explains why I enjoy sharing so many photos–not just the “portfolio quality” stuff–on Flickr and my site.

TWTME: Preferred subject matter?

Wildlife. There’s something alluring about coming face to face with a wild animal out in the middle of nowhere. It’s usually a quiet, private moment; a moment that can be shared and conveyed to others… if I don’t blow the shot. 😉

TWTME: Name one thing you haven’t caught with the camera that you REALLY want to capture.

Probably any rare wild cat would do, but a jaguar is at the top of the list (who’s up for a trip to Brazil?). Lightning is up there too.

2015 Note: I got my first decent lightning photo in 2012 during a late drive through the Lamar Valley.  I may finally tackle the jaguars in 2017 or ’18.

Lamar Valley Lightning

TWTME: When in doubt about your art, who do you confide in?

My questions and self-doubt relate more to the technical side of photography than the artistic side. I have a good sense of what I want to capture and present, but often times the how is the problem. In those instances I usually lean on my peers for their insights and experience with equipment and technique.

TWTME: Qualifications/training in anything? ie: Photoshop

Self-taught. I actually consider post-processing to be one of my greatest weaknesses, so I’m always trying new techniques that I pick up here and there. At least there’s one aspect of my photography that is evolving!

TWTME: Plans for the future?

My career is at a bit of a crossroads at the moment. I’ve been debating whether to expand the business side of my photography. This includes potentially leading tours and workshops, an idea I find rather intimidating. I’m also working on a series of children’s picture books (featuring wildlife of course) for iPad and iPhone, the first of which was just released.

2015 Note: Obviously I decided which way I’d turn at the crossroads and haven’t looked back.  So far, so good.  I ultimately published two children’s books for iPad before I determined the creative process was too expensive and time-consuming.  I would still like to get a real “coffee table book” out at some point.

TWTME: In one word, describe your photography.

Adventure

2015 Note: I’d like to think this hasn’t changed.  I continue to enjoy sharing the adventure.

Q&A

Most of this interview was in the Question and Answer format, which brings me to a related topic.  I answer a lot of questions from people.  Nature enthusiasts, novice photographers, Yellowstone visitors, etc. send me queries regarding equipment, technique, travel advice, etc.  I’m more than happy to help, so if you have any questions, I encourage you to contact me any time you need help.  There are few things that annoy me more than photographers who refuse to help others (especially those who ignore your question and then add you to their mailing list… you know who you are), so I do my best to be responsive.  Because of my busy schedule, I don’t have a 100% response rate (I apologize in advance if I leave anyone in the lurch), but I try to be pretty good about this stuff.

Anyway, in addition to answering some questions in private, I will also start posting an occasional Q&A segment here on the blog.  I’ll try to feature some of the answers and information that readers may find useful.  Hopefully it will help you learn a bit more about photography, travel, wildlife and maybe even about me.

4 Comments

  1. Reny October 23, 2015 Reply

    Nice to read this interview Max.

    We really appreciate you answering our questions about photo gear or places we want to visit, like Olympic NP in 2014.

    Hope to see you again in the near future !

    • Author
      Max October 23, 2015 Reply

      Wasn’t my advice for the Olympics simply “avoid the vampire stuff”? 😉

  2. Beth Mack October 23, 2015 Reply

    Hi Max
    I read your blog and found it very interesting, and it’s great to know you like people as well as photography. My husband and I have just bought a Nikon D7200, and a couple of lenses, which we want to add to. We’re amateurs and have a lot to learn, but will be using lightroom 6.1, which I’m finding quite good via you tube, as far as learning is concerned. Using the camera is another learning experience, and have not used an SLR or DSLR before. Before this, I used a Canon Powershot 7, which was very easy to use, and produced some fine shot. I think my husband and I both are quite artistic as far as composition goes, but we have yet to master the basics of photography regarding DSLR. We have a fascination for wildlife and the outdoors, especially bears. Whilst living in Australia, it’s pretty frustrating not being able to view these creatures in person, and have to rely on other people’s photos, but it’s on our bucket list to visit North America one day to fulfil our dream. We don’t mind getting out in the rain to take photos. I remember hiding under my husband’s coat at the Great Ocean Road in the rain and driving wind, to capture a photo of the twelve apostles (there aren’t many left now).

    I look forward to your blogs and more of your stunning photos; they’re lovely to see. Thanks.

    Beth

    • Author
      Max October 23, 2015 Reply

      Beth, it’s nice to hear from you. The DSLR experience will take some getting used to, but I definitely encourage you to get “less-automated” as you continue to practice and shoot with the new camera. When I teach my beginning nature photography course, I don’t allow my students to use the fully automated settings (i.e., no Program, Sports, Landscape modes, etc.). This helps them see how adjusting either aperture or shutter speed to their specifications can affect–and sometimes wreak havoc on–their images. When you’re ready to branch out, I’d definitely recommend exploring either the Aperture (A), Shutter (S) or Manual (M) modes on your camera, if you haven’t done so already.

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