Photographer of the Month – Larry Louie
Darwin: Congratulations Larry on your prestigious win as Travel Photographer of the Year for 2010! What does winning the award mean to you and to the type of photography work you do?
Larry: I am very honored to have won the TPOY award. It verifies that my work is recognized by prominent judges and peers. It also allows me to emphasize my goal in photography which is to increase awareness of SEVA whose mandate is to eradicate blindness in the third world. Being an optometrist, this is very important to me.
Darwin: When we were both in Images Alberta Camera Club in Edmonton way back in the Pleistocene I recall you did almost all your work in colour. Now you seem to work exclusively in black-n-white – why the change?
Larry: I feel the work that I do is more powerful in B&W. I have always loved B&W, especially ever since I saw an exhibition of Josef Koudelka in NYC. I still love color work though!
Darwin: I notice you seem to photograph project based work like “A Working Day in Dhaka” or “Factories”. Do you find giving yourself a project with a theme helps focus your work and return stronger results?
Larry: I do like to give myself a project so that I will focus. Since I only have a limited time, I want to make sure I spend the time wisely and not waste time. I do my homework before I travel to my destinations usually by the internet and arrange all necessary details such as hotels, local guides and transportation. The projects that I like tend to have a humanitarian cause or purpose, instead of just shooting pretty scenes.
Darwin: Your street photography of people looks so candid, like you are an unseen presence and yet a lot of the work looks to have a wide-angle point-of-view. How do you manage to get into the thick of the action and yet seem to not affect what the people are doing?
Larry: Thank you for your comment. It is very hard to get that in the photos. But the easiest way to obtain that is to make the subject feel relaxed, usually by spending some time with them. A smile goes a long way. Also, one cannot be shy and must push some buttons, but still respect the subject’s wants.
Darwin: How many international travel trips do you go on per year and how long do you usually go for?
Larry: I usually take one week in the spring time, usually April, and a two-week trip in October. I have an optometric practice so I can’t go for too long so being organized is important. I still will keep my eyes open for any circumstances that may occur that will surprise me and may create a great photo opportunity.
Darwin: As a travel shooter I assume you keep gear to a minimum? What makes up your camera kit these days?
Larry: You are right. Sometimes I would need to hike a long distance, such as in Tibet or New Guinea. Other times the location is very crowded such as Dhaka, Bangladesh. Therefore, I travel very light in most people’s eyes. I have usually 1 Canon 5D mark 2 body and 2 prime lenses: 24mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.2. I also carry an Epson P7000 to download all my daily shots. Recently, I have also brought a backup camera body just in case. Luckily, I have never had to use it.
To see more of Larry Louie’s work, please visit his website.