Garrett Graham has camera, will travel. This young photographer from LA likes leaving cities behind for a little adventure and great landscape film photography. Recently he began shooting uncharted places the old-fashioned (I hate this term) way with medium format cameras. Getting help with latest location apps, he plans solitary trips to far-off places that have not been shot a lot. It’s his color landscapes that draw our attention most but the monochromes are not less engaging. Garrett is also one of the guest authors of this blog and soon you’ll see some of his useful articles. Here’s our Q&A with Garrett:
I grew up in Fresno, California which is the agricultural center of the United States, so I was always surrounded by fields and farms. I had access to lakes and mountains and Yosemite was only an hour and a half away. I think that’s where my love of nature began. Seven years ago I moved to LA to go to film school and now I work as a producer for a kids entertainment news site.
Being in southern California allows for an easy access to a host of interesting locations to shoot. Every weekend I try to get out and shoot, whether it’s in the water with surfers or taking pictures in the desert.
Tell us how did you get into serious photography and why do you shoot or upload very few photos:
I really started taking photography seriously when I moved to LA. I wanted a cheap way to explore my new city. I had a 35mm camera from high school and after trying out some night photography around the city I was hooked.
I am pretty selective with what I post because when I shoot I’m very selective. I’ve recently switched over to shooting large format and I only get 6 shots. So I think that has influenced the way that I shoot in general. Being selective is helpful as it minimizes clutter on hard-drives and keeps you asking the question, “Is this the shot I want to take”?
What I think makes a great image is drama. Whether it is from the light or from the “action” in your shot, there needs to be some drama. Shadows are dramatic and they can create great lines, so I do my best to try and find them.
Landscape and nature photography are what keep me motivated. I love being outside and photography, so they make for a great pair. I enjoy the solitude while creating something, focusing on making the image. Being outside and away from the city helps with that focus.
The most challenging thing about Landscape photography, for me, can be getting to my subject. Hauling a 4×5 camera to the top of a 700ft sand dune for a sunrise shot isn’t a walk in the park and slipping into a wet suit in the early mooring to battle the waves isn’t easy. But it’s always worth it.
Right now I have a 60D. I like this camera and it has been my go-to for a while. Lenses are the kit 18-55mm, 50mm 1.4f and a 55-250mm. I’m a big believer that the majority of lenses are better than most photographers, which is why I’ve never had any problems carrying around the 18-55. I have yet to come across a situation where I can’t get a good image from it. My favorite lens, which I don’t own is the 10-22mm. I always shoot on manual with the auto focus turned on only for the center point. That allows me to retain control, while focusing quickly.
Recently I’ve been shooting mostly film. Medium and large format images have a quality about them you just can replicate with digital. I love slowing things down with my Toyo-View 45CX 4×5 View Camera, it’s a beast. I have a Bronica ETRS medium format, which is in the shop right now and I’m getting in the water and shooting surfers with my Nikonos V. I just have a cheap Targus tripod and a Lowepro Flipside as my main bag. The other things I don’t leave home without are my Intervalometer and a 0.9 ND.
My post workflow is pretty standard. I bring in all of my shots, load them on to my network drive and import them into Lightroom. I’ll do all of my edits in Lightroom as well as use it to catalog finished images. I spend a good amount of time carefully tweaking images to get them to their full potential. Post-production is equally as important as taking the shot, you can make or break an image with either.
I don’t really know where I’ll be in a few years with my photography; I’m just enjoying the present. One of the most important things I have learned over the years is to put down your camera. Sometimes we get caught up trying to get a great image and we only live the experience through our lens.
This shot (see below) was taken in Cayucos, California. Probably my favorite place in the world. It’s a sleepy little Californian beach town that’s not really known for anything, but it’s a paradise for anyone who loves seafood and surfing.
On any given morning there are usually a dozen or so surfers in the water waiting for the perfect set. Today there was only one. As he came out of the water I knew I wanted a silhouette. With my back ground of Morro rock set I hoped he would cross in just the right place. I shot two frames and ended up with this.
Tell us about your future plans, inspirations etc.
My plans for now are to continue to take as many pictures as I can. I’d love to get into more galleries and just see where my pictures can take me.
I get a lot of inspiration from National Geographic. I think it’s a really great resource for any type of photography. Two photographers I really admire are Sebastião Salgados and Nick Brandt. They both show a mastery of black and white photography.
The one thing that makes a better photographer is experience. Get familiar with your gear and learn what you like to shoot. There is really no substitute for experience.