Professional landscape and wildlife photographer Alex Mody has been shooting and creating images since a very young age. Today, he instructs photography workshops throughout the US and produces bold, powerful nature images. We’re pleased to welcome Alex as a new contributor to Outdoor Photography Guide. Learn more about him and his work here.
Outdoor Photography Guide: How did you get started in photography? Specifically how did you make the leap into doing it for a living?
Alex Mody: I got started in photography at an early age. My parents put a camera in my hands at age 4, and my grandfather bought me a DSLR when I was 16. Since a very young age, I had always enjoyed hiking, skiing, and being in the mountains. As my interests in the outdoors grew and I got my hands on that DSLR, I realized that these two passions could be combined. As I slowly discovered photographers whose work I enjoyed and many of the amazing online resources at the disposal of a novice nature photographer, the snowball effect began to take place and I was hooked.
As for doing this for a living, I have slowly taken the plunge into that over the last five years. I have been very fortunate to have great friends and mentors who have taken me under their wings and allowed me some great perspective on how they run their photography and photo workshop businesses, as well as how the industry works.
OPG: You’ve traveled to some amazing places – do you have a favorite location?
AM: Geez, do I have to pick one? Here’s my list: All of Arctic Norway that I’ve seen, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Namib desert, the Colorado Plateau in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, the Canadian Rockies, Olympic National Park, and last but not least, the Oregon Coast.
OPG: Where are you planning to go next?
AM: I just got back from Namibia, and have a busy season ahead of me here in the Pacific Northwest. I’m in the process of planning a trip to the Canadian Arctic in September.
OPG: What subjects do you enjoy shooting most?
AM: I just about only shoot landscape and wildlife subjects, because I haven’t derived much enjoyment from photographing anything else. I generally avoid photographing man-made subject matter.
OPG: What’s in your camera bag?
AM: Nikon D810, 14-24mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/4, 200-500mm f/5.6(soon), 500mm f/4. I also don’t go anywhere without a ton of extra batteries, several microfiber wipes, some cheap cable release triggers (I lose and break them constantly), and a rocket blower.
OPG: What’s your favorite lens and why?
AM: I really like all five of the lenses I listed above. I think they all have their time and place, and would call any one of them my favorite if I needed it for a specific shot.
OPG: How important is post-processing to your photography?
AM: I think post-processing is pretty damn important. It’s an integral part of my process. A RAW file is just that – raw. It contains a ton of color and dynamic range, but comes off the camera looking pretty flat and lacking in saturation, detail, and contrast. Any photographer shooting RAW has to post-process an image to achieve whatever their desired visual effect may be.
OPG: What motivates you to teach others about photography?
AM: The money… just kidding. I really like people. In fact, I especially love being helpful to people so it feels great for me to instruct and guide. I love being able to use my experiences in the field and working with photos in a way that brings happiness to others.
OPG: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in photography, or just starting to develop their eye?
AM: Keep shooting! Shoot as much as possible. Shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot. Be highly critical of your images. Try to understand which images you like, which ones you don’t like, and specifically why. Keep these lessons in your mind as you keep shooting and progressing. Oh yeah, did I mention to TAKE A LOT OF PHOTOS?
I’d always try to absorb as much information as possible, but I wouldn’t prioritize learning a lot about post-processing until later. I don’t get anything out of viewing a well-processed photo that has blaring technical or compositional issues. It’s like putting a shiny new paint-job on a car with a half-built engine. I don’t think you are incorrect if you disagree – this is just my opinion.
OPG: What is the goal of your work? What do you aim to convey with your images?
AM: The main goal of my work is to create a portfolio of nature images that I personally enjoy both creating and viewing.
OPG: If you could describe your photographic style in one sentence, what would that be?
AM: I’d describe my work as straightforward, bold, and moody. Often dark, but not always.
OPG: What is it about photography that drew you to it as a creative medium?
AM: As a youngster, I had a creative, visually-oriented mind, but a difficult time putting it to use due to having TERRIBLE fine motor skills. I think I was drawn to using a camera because it was one of my only options – I couldn’t write, draw, paint, or do anything like that very well at all. These days, in a nutshell, I would say that I am drawn to composition as a whole, the ability to visit areas of great natural beauty, and the way it is possible to convey powerful emotion in something as simple as a two-dimensional image. Photography is awesome!
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