We’re pleased to welcome world-renowned professional photographer Ian Plant to the Outdoor Photography Guide team as our new Managing Editor! Ian is a frequent contributor to many leading photo magazines, including Outdoor Photographer, Popular Photography, and Landscape Photography Magazine. He’s also a Tamron Image Master and the author of numerous books and instructional videos.
We caught up with Ian while on his latest photo adventure. He graciously offered to take some time from his busy schedule and answer a few questions for us.
Q: Tell us how you got into photography, specifically how did you make the leap into doing it for a living?
A: I like to joke that I took the “scenic route” into nature photography. I actually started off as a lawyer, of all things. I bought my first camera while in law school, and was immediately hooked, realizing too late that I had just wasted $100,000 on an otherwise perfectly functional legal education. I was a slave to a big Washington, D.C. law firm for eight years before I was able to pay off my school debt. Then I quit, and jumped head first into my career as a pro photographer. I can’t imagine doing anything else; I love photography, and it is really the only thing I care about!
Q: Do you have any formal training in photography?
A: No, I am completely self-taught, both when it comes to photography specifically and art generally. In my opinion, anyone can learn to become a better photographer simply by studying on one’s own and practicing as much as possible.
Q: You’ve traveled to some amazing places. Do you have a favorite location?
A: I get asked this question a lot, and I never feel like I have a satisfactory answer. I really don’t have “favorite” places to shoot, as every place has its own unique beauty. I simply enjoy shooting no matter where I am, engaging in the creative process and looking for a way to reveal the story of my subject. In the past few years, I’ve been to some incredible places and seen some amazing things: Scotland’s wild Outer Hebrides coast, polar bears brawling on the shore of the Arctic Ocean, Peru’s steaming Amazon rain forest, Namibia’s stark deserts, the soaring mountains of Patagonia in Chile and Argentina, the windswept landscapes of Iceland, and the mountain gorillas of Rwanda, just to name a few. As incredible as these places are, I enjoy shooting less dramatic locations just as much, even places close to home most people don’t think of photographing. You can find great photographs anywhere!
Q: What’s in your camera bag?
A: My equipment roster is always changing, but right now the equipment I use the most consists of the following: Canon 5D Mark III camera, Canon 11-24mm f/4 lens, Canon 16-35mm f/4 lens, Canon 17mm TS-E f/4 lens, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 200-400mm f/4 lens with built-in 1.4x extender, and a bunch of other Canon and Tamron lenses. I use an assortment of Gitzo and Giottos tripods. But I have no particular brand loyalty – cameras and lenses are just tools, and I choose the tools which will best fit my creative needs and my budget.
Q: How important are digital darkroom techniques to your photography?
A: I try very hard to keep my art and technique firmly rooted in the photographic process, rather than the computer process. Many photographers these days heavily rely on extensive computer manipulation to create the “magic” of their work. While there’s nothing wrong with this, I prefer that the magic result from diligence, strong field technique, and from capturing real wonderful moments of the natural world as they unfold. So I tend to process my photos with a light touch.
Q: Where are you planning to go next?
A: Wherever the wind takes me! I’ve got a few new locations in mind for next year, including Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Baffin Island in northern Canada. My “bucket list” is always ambitious, and I seem to add locations faster than I can cross them off. Professional and personal obligations often get in the way, but I try to spend as much time as I can in the field, and I’m always open to new experiences. But this much I know at least: wherever I go next, the OPG community will get a chance to share in my adventures!
You can learn more about Ian and see more of his photography here:
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