Richard Bernabe is an internationally-renowned photographer specializing in landscape, wildlife, and travel. His work has been featured in such titles as The National Geographic Society, Outdoor Photographer, Popular Photography, and many others. We’re thrilled to welcome Richard as a new contributor to the Outdoor Photography Guide team.
Outdoor Photography Guide: How did you get started in photography? Specifically how did you make the leap into doing it for a living?
Richard Bernabe: In the mid-1990s, I began selling some photography and writing work to a few local and national magazines as I was working another job. It wasn’t a lot of money and it certainly wasn’t enough to support myself but I l still loved it. The small amount of publicity and pride fueled my desire to do it on a full-time basis as a career, which happened in 2003.
OPG: You’ve traveled to some amazing places – do you have a favorite location?
RB: My objective, when visiting any place, is to be inspired. Each place I visit and photograph inspires me in different ways so it’s impossible to choose a favorite.
OPG: What subjects do you enjoy shooting most?
RB: I enjoy wildlife, nature, landscapes, and exotic travel for the most part.
OPG: What’s in your camera bag?
RB: It varies from place to place and the type of shooting I’m doing but right now it’s two Canon EOS 5D Mark III bodies, Canon 11-24mm, Canon 16-35mm, Canon 24-70mm, Canon 70-200mmm, Canon 200-400mm, a variety of neutral density and polarizing filters.
OPG: What’s your favorite lens and why?
RB: Whichever lens is the right one for the current job at hand is my favorite. I don’t have any special emotional attachments to any of them.
OPG: How important is post-processing to your photography?
RB: I think photographers take different views on this but to me it a natural extension of the interpretation process, which starts in the field with lens choice and composition and ends in the digital darkroom with brightness, contrast, and color fidelity.
OPG: What is it about photography that drew you to it as a creative medium?
RB: I call photography “creativity in a straight jacket” in that we photographers are afforded a lot of creative latitude in interpreting a scene but are bound by reality, unlike other art forms. Viewers of a photograph have an expectation that the image represents something real. Creativity with limitations is much more challenging than without and I love and embrace that challenge.
OPG: What is the goal of your work? What do you aim to convey with your images?
RB: My goal is to make the viewer of the image not necessarily see what I saw, but to feel what I felt as I was standing behind the camera. The more inspirational experiences I have in nature, the more I can inspire my audience. With that said, I suppose my job is to go out and be inspired.
OPG: If you could describe your photographic style in one sentence, what would that be?
RB: I’ve never really thought much about it, but I would hope that I don’t have a “style.” Style is too redundant, predictable, and limiting, as well as contrived. A photographer’s work should always say something about the photographer, not necessarily the subjects he or she photographs. So the work is a creative expression of self, not style.
OPG: What motivates you to teach others about photography?
RB: I get a great deal of satisfaction when a student of mine has one of those “ah ha” moments. You can see the light bulb go off in their head and you know they have real knowledge that they can carry with them beyond the current class. That thrill is almost as real and satisfying as capturing a special moment in the wild.
OPG: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in photography, or just starting to develop their eye?
RB: Follow the passion. If your passion is nature, explore that with your photography. If it’s wildlife, go there. Flowers, birds, landscapes, underwater, insects, it doesn’t matter. If you have a special interest and passion for something, let that be your muse. You have something unique to share with the rest of world so dive into it deeply and share it with the rest of us.
Visit Richard’s website to see more of his work and to view his upcoming workshop schedule: RichardBernabe.com
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