Guest Posting – Younes Bounhar

I have always wanted this blog to be about life as we live through the lens. How do we, as a community of photographers, see the world not only through our lenses but through our living? In this spirit, I am happy to host photos from photographers in any genre (hence the LLTL monthly photo contest). As well, I would love to hear your ideas, rants, opinions and musing about our craft. If you have something you want to share on this blog feel free to send me your stuff. Below is a piece from Canadian Photographer, Younes Bounhar.

Stacking the Odds in Your Favor

Landscape photographers seldom get any credit for the amount of work and dedication required for their craft. I often here comments such as “wow he’s so lucky, that sky is incredible!” or “I could have pulled it off had I been there!” The fact is, to consistently produce high-quality images there is no such a thing as luck! The only luck you get is the one you make yourself. So, how do you stack the odds in your favor? 

©Younes Bounhar

©Younes Bounhar

•1-    Get out there and  get out there often.

As much as there are times I wish my camera would just go out there and get me some incredible pictures, it has remained, to this day, an unfulfilled promise. Simply put, the more you are out there, the more you are likely to shoot in awesome conditions. Spectacular light rarely waits for the week-ends (as much I hate it!), so whenever you get a chance, grab your camera bag and head out to your favorite spots (make sure the camera is in the bag though!). 

•2-    Know you gear.

I always like to hammer the fact that it is not the gear, but the photographer that makes the shot. That said, you can’t realize your vision unless you know what your gear can and can’t do, and that you can get it to do what you want it to do. Know your camera inside out, know exactly what each of your lenses can and cannot do. It is not when the light shows up that you should try to figure out how your split density filters work…be ready to seize the moment when it comes and don’t let your gear get in the way. 

•3-    Know your subject.

Whether you are visiting a new location or paying an old friend another visit, if pays to research your subject ahead of time. It’s hard to shoot a moonlit scene on a new moon or tide pools at high tide. Know when and where the sun rises and sets. Check out the moon cycle and the tides to maximize your shooting opportunities. Whenever I go out on a shoot I also make sure I get to my location at least an hour or two ahead of time because it allows me to carefully study the location and plan out potential compositions. 

•4-    Familiarity breeds success.

I really love traveling and photographing new areas with a fresh pair of eyes. The reality, though, is that I can’t travel all year long and as such am bound to shoot areas I am fairly familiar with and I this reality to my advantage. First, because I know I can go back anytime, I don’t have any pressure to get the wide-angle, cliché shot, or any shot for that matter. I can just take the time and experiment to my heart’s content until I get something I am satisfied with. Second, by knowing the area, I can also better predict with greater certainty where the light conditions will be the best on a given day and as such increase my odds for a successful shoot.

©Younes Bounhar

©Younes Bounhar

8 Responses to “Guest Posting – Younes Bounhar”

  1. […] Canadian Photographer Darwin Wiggett has graciously offered to host my next post, where I discuss the role of luck in nature photography and how luck only helps those who are prepared. Check it out here : Guest post. […]

  2. Hi Darwin,

    You said leave a comment. So, here goes.

    I see some outstanding work on your blog.

    How do you as a landscape photographer plan on competing with with so many excellent photographers.? How will you distinish yourself and stand out from the crowd?

    The market is flooded with great photo books and how to books.

    Just curious.

    David

  3. Hi David,

    Yes, many photographers have stellar work and as you can see by the postings in the LLTL contest all the work is first rate!

    You are right, how do you make your work stand out in the crowd? That is the perpetual question. Why does the work of Art Wolfe, or Daryl Benson or Frans Lanting stand out? It does because these photographers have found their own voice, they are confident in expressing their vision and they shoot from the heart. They are not so insecure that they need to copy other people’s work, copy fads, or shoot for the market. They just shoot for themselves.

    The message I am trying to give here is that if you shoot things you love, things that move you, and things that inspire you, you’ll likely find your own voice. If you shoot for the accolades of others or if you are consciously trying to be trendy or cool, then you will fail. Whether or not you ‘stand out’ will be determined down the line. Really, as a photographer all we need to be is true to ourselves. The more we are true to our vision and less self-conscious about our end product, the better our photos will reflect who we are.

    Hope that helps answer your question. Darwin

    • To further add to Darwin’s point, I would like to point to a beautiful essay by commercial/editorial photographer Doug Menuez at http://menuez.wordpress.com/on-chaos-fear-survival-luck/

      • Wonderful article. It goes along with what I try to tell other photographers all the time. I like something dramatic in the sky portion of my photos. I take a lot of effort in planning my photo shoots. It’s all about placing myself in the right place at the right time. There are many variables that decide what type of photos we get when shooting landscapes. Weather conditions at the right time of day, position of the sunset or sunrise, position of the coulds with respect to foreground elements, tide levels when shooting seascapes, etc.. Tools like weather satellites images and live webcams of the locations really help. I can see where the clouds are, what type of clouds, then place the satellite image in motion to see what direction and how fast the clouds are moving. I then check the live webcam of the area to see exactly what it’s looking like. In the past, I would drive 4 hours to a location without being sure of what the conditions are. I only had a weather forecast which was very general and not always reliable. Now, I have a much better idea. It sounds a bit too scientific, but my success rate has improved a lot with better planning. I don’t know for sure if the trip is going to happen until the last minute. There have been times when I have planned to take a trip, then looking at the conditions, I noticed that the sky was clearing up too much from the weather satellite image, and I called off the trip or decided to go to another “back-up” location hundreds of miles away from the planned location. There is a small bit of “luck” because you never know how the weather is going to make last minute changes, but that’s Mother Nature. As landscape photographers, Mother Nature makes the final decision in having the right conditions at the right location at the right time of day.

  4. David Lilly Says:

    Darwin,

    That is exactly what I try to do. I shoot for myself. I am the biggest crtic of my own work.

    We have to photographg the world the way we see it – our vision, my vision and your vision. We all see the world differently.

    Untill a photographer understands this, he or she will never master the art.

    David

  5. lensaddiction Says:

    I find it hard to be motivated enough to spend the time driving and walking in the hope I get a decent shot. Im quite new to the DSLR world and am staying close to home while I try and get a handle on my gear.

    But I see the sense in what you are saying, I need to be a bit braver and go further afield!

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