Lenswork Interview

This past week, I had a very engaging telephone interview with Brooks Jensen, the publisher of Lenswork. The interview is slated for release sometime this month or in October. I'm not exactly sure.

If you don't know much about Lenswork, then I would strongly urge you to seek it out. There are not that many interesting photography related magazines or on-line subscriptions which focus on the art and creative aspects of being a photographer. In fact, I think it's telling that most of the sites out there are predominantly focussed on gear. So it's really refreshing to have Brook's magazine available.

Anyway, the interview with Brooks was covered by himself recording his own audio while he chatted to me on Skype, and I recorded my own segment with my handy Sony PCM-D50 audio recorder (I love taking a little audio recorder with me on my travels as I think sound is a further dimension in which one can creatively explore their surroundings and it's been very useful for adding a richness to some of my podcasts).

In his interview, Brooks covered many things with me, but I think the area that interested him the most was how I've managed to make a living from photography and in which mediums I've managed to do this (we discussed e-books, printed books and also my podcasts). I think he's very interested in photographers thinking more outside the box, and not being too constrained by the ideas that they should try to sell images or prints only.

Anyway, Brooks was very nice to talk to. He came over very much as he does in his audio podcasts. You should really check out his magazine. Yes, there is a predominant focus on black and white photography, but he also has a Lenswork 'extended' edition which covers colour photography and how best to illustrate or show your work to others.

Very highly recommended.

Everywhere feels like home

Well, it's been a long time coming. I do podcasts on iTunes if you don't already know;  you can subscribe to my podcast on iTunes here and have them automatically downloaded onto you iPod or iPad. I'm a little self conscious of putting these podcasts together, but I often get folks asking me when I'll do some more, and the responses I've seen on my guestbook and on iTunes has confirmed that folks love em.

[embed width="400" ] https://vimeo.com/48290279 [/embed]

I've had a lot of "recharging" time at home these past few weeks, which is why the blog is quite prolific at the moment. I'm enjoying very much the process of working through most of the films I've shot this year.

Being home is good. Very good. I feel a need for a sense of balance in what I do: I love the traveling, and I've found the world has become smaller for me over the past few years. I've got some very dear friends in Australia, Canada, America, Portugal, Norway, Switzerland, Japan, Easter Island, Chile, Argentina....

It's amazing to discover that with a little bit of travel (or maybe quite a lot!), strangers become friends and exotic landscapes have become familiar haunts.

I'm aware I lead a very privileged life doing what I do. So with this in mind, here's a little podcast about that, with some music by the extremely talented Dustin O'Halloran titled 'An Ending, a Beginning', which i find very apt.

Many thanks to Dustin and his Management team for allowing me permission to use his very beautiful music. I feel very strongly that the arts should be supported, and I've made sure that a royalty fee has been incurred for the use of Dustin's music. If you'd like to find this music and buy it, it's on the 'Transcendentalism EP'.

I hope you enjoy the podcast, and I do wish to create many more. It's just that time is so precious to me now - it's the rarest commodity that I possess.

Lofoten Islands Podcast

I don't do many podcasts. They're quite time consuming, but above all, I can only do them when I have something to say. Sometimes, what I have to say, isn't immediately obvious and in terms of the Lofoten islands, which I visited this March, it took me a good month to figure out what it was, about this place, that made a big impression on me.

Speaking to a friend of mine recently, we discussed my trip and it became apparent that what had affected me the most was how the seasons felt very out of step.

Let me explain. In Scotland winter tends to come to a drawn out close around April and sometimes as late as May. But when I was heading off to Lofoten in March, there were sure signs of Spring in the air here. The sun was out and it was t-shirt territory. I even felt I had a 'spring in my step' too (not bad for a 43 year old!).

Lofoten Islands, Norway from Bruce Percy on Vimeo.

Now consider that just shortly after arriving in Lofoten, I stood in a petrol station in the town of Leknes, waiting for my bus to arrive to take me to Reine, and outside, all I could see was a snow blizzard hammer relentlessly against the window. I do remember thinking 'oh, what have I got myself into this time?' and I wondered if I'd been really foolish to come to such an amazingly desolate environment (I use this term with no exaggeration - Norway, above the arctic circle at this time of year is an extremely harsh place to live).

Anyway, as the podcast shows, it's also a very beautiful place and I certainly felt as though I'd taken a step back in time a few months, right into the depths of winter.

It was an absorbing experience to feel like an outsider, looking in on a season that was very much alive and real to the friends and locals I met in Lofoten, but had become very much a thing of the past for me.

I'll be releasing my future podcasts (including this one) on Vimeo, because it allows me to give you an HD version with nice viewing controls. You can also find my other podcasts on Vimeo as well in 720 HD mode, so enjoy (and if you'd like to leave some nice comments on Vimeo - even better :-)

I do hope you enjoy this podcast. Lofoten is an extremely beautiful place. It has two faces, a stunningly beautiful summer face and a dramatic winter face. That is why I am headed back there this mid-summer, to photograph the night (11 till 5am brings beautiful light). Now where did I put my eye-patches?

Lalibela Podcast

Situated in the northern foothills of Ethiopia, lies Lalibela, an important spiritual mecca for orthodox christians.

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I came here in September of this year to photograph the people in the context of the UNESCO rock hewn churches. Unbeknown to me at the time, I was on a pilgrimage of my own. Looking back now, I can see that my entire photographic 'career' has been that - a journey and as with everything in life, we only truly understand how far we've come, by looking back. Everything up ahead of us, is yet to be discovered.

This will be my last podcast for a while. They're very time-consuming to do, even though I do find them very enjoyable. But the problem is gathering enough new material to make one with. Lalibela was the first set of new photographs I made this year. I do have a trip planned to go to Norway in March 2011 to (hopefully) shoot the Aurora and also photograph the beautiful fishing town of A. Who knows what this may bring in terms of a future podcast, but until then, I'd just like to let you know that I intend to make podcasts in future, but only when I have new material and when the time is right to do so.

Eigg Podcast

I've just had some spare time to put together a little podcast about the Isle of Eigg - you will need a decent pair of speakers to enjoy this.

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I have had some very kind permission by Macmaster & Hay to use the title track of their album 'Reason & Love' for this podcast, so if  you enjoy the music, please do give their album a listen at myspace at :www.myspace.com/macmasterhay

Macmaster & Hay tell me their album 'Reason & Love' is available from www.codamusic.co.uk if you would like to buy a copy - which I can recommend very much.

I find the music very appropriate for this podcast. I'd been thinking for a while that if I were to do the isle of Eigg justice, it would be great to use some Scottish music for it and I feel I've found the perfect partner. The sea sounds were recorded on Laig bay while I was making photographs earlier this year (April) and Adam - you'll know just the very moment I made the recording as you were there at the time.

So I do hope you enjoy this podcast. I get such a buzz out of putting them together. They allow me to reflect on my own photographic-journey, where I've been, where I'm at and where I'm perhaps going. Yep, I'm a hippy at heart really.

Assynt : Podcast

Assynt is a special place, situated in the far north west of Scotland. It's not so well known as places like Glencoe, but I think that's more to do with Glencoe's accessibility. While Glencoe has a major trunk road going right through it, Assynt is tucked away from most people and certainly, the photographic press don't cover it much, if at all. Which is a blessing as well as a burden. A blessing because it's not overrun with photographers and a burden, because it takes more effort to convince people to come here!

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This podcast deals with the subject of isolation. Perhaps the biggest thing that bothers me while I'm away making images.

I sometimes find myself feeling too much on my own and in this podcast, I try to ask some questions: is it a wild landscape that makes us feel isolated, or does the landscape more or less amplify our own feelings and reflect them back to us?

I've been pumping out the podcasts lately. I'm sorry for the sporadic publication of these. It takes quite some time to put them together.... but they are a labour of love on my part. I often find I can get round to doing them when I feel inspired to do so. With any 'art', it can't be rushed, and conversely, you have to strike when the iron is hot (take action when you're feeling creative). I've been feeling creative this past few weeks.

Holy Land in Crisis

The reason I got into making podcasts was because I was inspired by a podcast I saw by Jake Warga. He's an independent reporter. I was intrigued by Jake's podcast. There was a great story, good production values and good photography too. I've always been interested in reportage, and so for me, it felt like Jake had shown me how to combine my photography with a story.

I've been talking to Jake for the past two years now. He's in Patagonia at the moment, and he's approached me about doing an interview. I'll let you know if something comes of it.

Anyway, I'd love to show you some new stuff by Jake. I've just been on YouTube tonight and found these. I think they're great. It's interesting stuff.

I know that many of the visitors to my site are interested in Landscape Photography only, but I personally feel that most of us start there and progress to other forms of photography. I love portraiture and reportage. I'd love to do some reportage at some point: to tell a story. Perhaps later this year if I manage to make it to Ethiopia (next place on my list). Until then, why not watch these two podcasts to see someone weave a story with some excellent audio and photography:

India's People Podcast

India was captivating in many ways. In this podcast, I try to convey how overpowering India's culture is and how it affected my approach to portraiture photography.

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Now that I've had some time to reflect on my trip to India and to re-charge my batteries, I'd love to go back. I think we need something to challenge us, to surprise us from time to time and in that respect, India succeeds hands down.

I'm really quite surprised to discover that it's taken me just over a year to get round to putting this little podcast together. I think there was a lot going on for me last year and a lot of travel. It was so satisfying going back to the audio recordings I made whilst in India and listening to them with fresh ears. It took me right back. I'm hoping to record more ambient sound for future podcasts..... it's a much more enriching experience to have sound as well as photos. Perhaps even video at some point, but I feel that involves quite a bit of a leap in technique. For the time being, I'm just going to stick with iMovie for my basic slideshows and an Audio recorder (Sony PCM-D50 which is great by the way) and of course, my photography for the substance to my podcasts.

Podcast : Harris & Lewis

Now available under the podcast section of my web site, I've a new podcast about Harris & Lewis. Confusingly, Harris and Lewis are the same island. The south part is called Harris while the north part is called Lewis.

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I've been twice now - first in May 2009 and then back in November 2009. It's an hypnotic place and the light last November was stunning. Dramatic, changeable and moody. I hope to get back to putting some new podcasts together. I'd like to discuss Assynt and Skye too, perhaps talking about the efforts that I go into making a trip and staying out there for a concentrated time. Until then, I hope you enjoy this little podcast!

Podcast : India's Taj Mahal

I've not even begun to work on my Indian images yet. But along while back, sometime in February when I got home, I started to collate all the usable images from my visits to the Taj Mahal.

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It's quite an incredible landmark and it didn't disappoint me. Photographically however, I was restricted : they won't let you in with a tripod or any recording devices. Still, I did manage to smuggle an audio recorder past the entrance gates. So in this podcast, you can hear ambience from the surrounding gardens. It's hard for me to explain, but it was just so calming to be there, despite the fact that I was there with 1000 other people at 6am in terrible smog.

My throat and lungs ached after spending a couple of hours there. So bad was the pollution.

However, the Taj Mahal is simply one of the most beautiful buildings I've ever seen. It did not disappoint.

I went perhaps three or four times, and the last time was enough for me. Going in the evening is the worst because everyone, and I mean everyone, is there. It was like Disney Land. Terrible. It's also a shame that the gardeners are onto touting the tourists too. After spending weeks being harassed by threatening touts, I thought I was going to get some peace in the gardens. So I was pretty frustrated when I had to tell the gardeners to leave me alone in peace.

I think the Taj Mahal has to be enjoyed in silence, with time to reflect, it's a beautiful special place, more so because it is a reprieve from the madness of India.

Bolivian Altiplano Podcast

I had no idea I was going to be so taken with this landscape.The Bolivian Altiplano brings together a vast expanse of varied geological features under unusual climatic conditions.

For one thing, the altitude of the Altiplano averages around 4000 meters or 12,000 feet. The air is thin here and for no reason I can fathom, this seemed to guarantee stunning light each sunrise and sunset.

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Because of this, I felt that I pushed my tour guide and driver to their limits as we navigated the vast Salar de Uyuni landscape before sunrise and long after dusk. With scarcely defined roads, more a slight suggestion, a faint scar on the desert like landscape, it was hard for me to watch as my driver sped through the darkness with no visible signposts as to where we were, or where we were going.

And we sped on, often to some intangible destination that my driver knew about.

But I was suffering hard. A mixture of slight Altitude symptoms and running around too much, too soon after my ascent onto the altiplano had left me with a thumping headache and slight dizziness - symptoms of mountain sickness.

I felt overawed by the experience. Coupled with my suffering, everything regarding landscape photography seemed inverted. The ground was often brighter than the sky and the sunsets proved to be more impressive than the wondrous sunrises. I was never really just sure how to meter the landscapes for the film I was using.

This is not what I’ve come to expect from most of the landscapes I’ve photographed over the years.

Being so high up, I´d expected to feel cold, yet strangely I didn’t - even though I got caught out. Like a mouth that has gone numb and un-cooperative after a visit to the dentist, so I found my hands unable to operate my camera after being outside for more than half an hour in the dawn light.

As for my most lasting impression, well I must say that I tried one day to walk on the vast salt plain for as long as I could with my eyes completely closed. It didn’t take long for my mind to concoct imaginary obstacles in my path and I had to fight my instincts, which kept screaming at me to open my eyes. When I did, I was greeted with the unchanged, vast emptiness of the Salar and a feeling that I had been tricked. By my own mind of course.

Perhaps this was the Bolivian Altiplanos parting gift to me - a lesson that most limitations in my life come from within rather than from without.

Easter Island

I lost all sense of context whilst on Easter Island. In this podcast, I explain how easy it is to lose your point of reference in a new land. In this case, I found that after a few days on Easter Island, I felt like I'd always been there. Home felt like it had never existed.

I sometimes find I lose all sense of context when I'm somewhere remote, making photographs.

I'm just not sure if that's a good thing or not.

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Patagonian Ice Field

Going to extreme lengths to get a shot of Cerro Torre, I ventured onto the southern Patagonian ice field. In this podcast, I explain why sometimes, I go too far in the pursuit of an image.

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Lost in Norway

Depriving myself of sleep, I spent most evenings 'lost in the moment' above the arctic circle in Norway's Lofoten Islands. In this podcast, I explain why it's possible to go slightly mad in the pursuit of photography.

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Scotland - on landscape photography

What does landscape photography mean to you? Is it a verbatim recording of a scene, captured for posterity, or is it something more? In this podcast, I use a few select images from my Scotland landscapes to illustrate what landscapes mean to me, and why I chose to shoot them the way I did.

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Cambodia's People

Looking for inspiration, I found it in the warmth and friendlyness of the Cambodian people. This Podcast deals with capturing images of people. I use five images from my Cambodian portfolio as examples and dissect them. There is less focus on the gear involved, because quite frankly, it makes very little difference. I try to show you why each photo (for me) works.

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Lost in Iceland

Wandering the Icelandic landscape during the nocturnal hours led me to understand what a wilderness landscape really is. If you want an insight into the thoughts and feelings I had whilst in Iceland making images, then I'm pleased to tell you that i have just completed a new podcast about it.

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My podcast is now being published in iTunes, so if you have an iPod and iTunes, then you can subscribe to my podcast series by going here.

Future Podcasts - what would you like to see?

I'm currently working on some further podcasts. In the pipeline as I type, I have one on my experiences whilst shooting in Iceland. And I'm also putting together one focusing on the aesthetic choices, and thought processes I go through whilst shooting portraiture in Cambodia. But perhaps there's something in particular you'd like me to cover? If so, Let me know.

Torres del Paine NP, Patagonia

A photographic Journey through one of Patagonia's spectacular national parks. I thought it would be a great idea to put a podcast together with my thoughts on photography. I've just completed my first 'episode'. This one is about Patagonia. I should stress that I use the term 'episode' loosely, as I currently have 'tentative' plans to produce some more.

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I just bought a whole pile of audio recording gear - a neat flash recorder, and a couple of microphones. I have a background in post audio production so this is nothing new for me. But what is new, is combining audio and dialog with my photography.

My intention is that when I travel in future, I will record the surrounding places, whether it is the windswept pampas of Patagonia, or people praying in some east Asian temple somewhere. My hope is that I can produce further podcasts about my trips, which should be richer than this podcast as I didn't have any source material to use.

Should you wish to subscribe to the podcast, you can do so via any of these feeds:

My Podcast Alley feed! {pca-c4762b09cb54f070c0e25c0cbdeaa9ac}

My iTunes feed!

I hope you enjoy it, and perhaps I'll get my act together and start to produce some more.