James Maher

James Maher Interviewed: About Loving The Surprises Around Every Corner

Street Photography, a genre loved by millions but pursed by just a few. A genre if practiced well can be an intense exercise for your creativity & perspective. But to practice it full time might not be the best of the ideas is how the world treats it!

In this interview with James Maher, you’ll know the genre better and fall in love with its twisted simplicities.

A free-willed, curious soul, James Maher has captured the city of New York like no one else. The city speaks to you through each of James’ stills. As he rightly says, ” I capture the stories on the street!” These stories truly come to life when you observe his images.

We were extremely fortunate to have been able to get in conversation with the man himself, James Maher. To interview him about his art & how he made it big in this genre of street photography. Read along for some candid and from the heart answers!

  1. What has been your inspiration to take up “street” as a genre knowing it’s not that commercially viable?James Maher
    I never really thought of the commercial viability of the genre before getting into it. I just thought it was such an interesting art form and I loved to walk the city, so taking a camera and photographing my surroundings just seemed like the normal thing to do. I did this before I even knew there was a term street photography.I just love trying to capture stories that I find interesting throughout the city. I think street photography is a beautiful mix between documentary and personal work and it is a fantastic way to express yourself.At first, I made my living strictly through events and portraits and still continue to work in those fields, but street photography has opened a lot of avenues for me. It’s the engine of my business – people find it interesting even if they hire me for other jobs. I write about the genre, teach it, sell prints, and give workshops that now account for about 50% of what I do.


  1. Capturing New York is something you love doing, what attracts you to this city?

    James MaherWhen people talk about the energy of New York, what they mean is the energy on the streets – the fact that you can walk out the door and suddenly have incredible interactions with all types of people from all different backgrounds.I love that you can never see it all. Just walking and getting lost is my way of relaxing and taking the camera with me allows me to pay attention more to my surroundings. Then I get to go home and put the best work into series that best show off what I want to portray about the city.There are surprises around every corner. The city and people here never fail to surprise you.


  1. What are the places you have traveled to, for shooting the streets?
    James Maher
    I shoot my best street photography at home. While I photograph when I travel, I’m not one that loves to travel to take photographs. There’s enough to photograph in this city itself to keep me busy and I’ve been here my whole life so I feel like I understand it best. I feel like there’s much more nuance in my work here because of this.Up until 3 years ago, I lived in Manhattan for my entire life and shot there primarily. 3 years ago, I moved to Brooklyn and this allowed me to start an entirely new series of color work. I just get lost whenever I can, explore more and more each day, and learn about the place through my photography. It’s such a fun experience and I’m starting to learn about a lot of the borough because of this.This is how I believe I do my best work.


  1. Which is your favorite place to shoot, & Why?

    In Manhattan, I love shooting in SoHo, the East Village, the Lower East Side, Chinatown, and of course Midtown and 5th Avenue.In Brooklyn, I love the Brooklyn Waterfront, but really my favorite thing is to go deep into the borough, to see the quiet, diverse residential neighborhoods. They feel worlds away from the crazy and intense streets of Manhattan.

  2. What/ who inspires you?

    Robert Frank, Josef Koudelka, Alec Soth, William Eggleston, Trent Parke, Garry winogrand, Bruce Davidson, Helen Levitt, Matt Weber, and Daido Moriyama.


  1. What do you love more? Capturing or guiding others to capture?James Maher

    Nothing beats walking by yourself and photographing. That’s where I find mental peace and clarity. But a close second to that is sharing my enthusiasm with others. Seeing the excitement on other people’s faces while sharing what I love is a wonderful thing and it helps to keep my motivation.

James Maher

  1. Can you please give us insights into your process of capturing the streets.

    I use a Fuji X100T camera and either a 35mm or 50mm (full frame equivalent) lens. It’s such a light and incredible camera for street photography. I just act like I’m a tourist looking at the backgrounds and not noticing my subjects and this works really well. It allows me to get close to take candid photographs of people without making them uncomfortable.I’ve been doing this for about 20 years and I have not been stopped once over the last five years. Generally, I feel pretty invisible even though I get pretty close.


  1. Being an accomplished portrait photographer, how has street photography influenced your portraitures?

    When shooting portraits, I always look for the candid moments that people experience when they don’t quite realize I am photographing them. It’s the moment in between the shots that I’m looking for. I love to catch people off guard and to show what they are really like.


  1. Can you give a brief about your photo tours & workshops? Where did you get the idea from? How has your experience been so far?

    James MaherI teach frequent private 1-1 (or small travel group) street photography tours and workshops all around the city. Probably 3-4 times a week. It’s such a fun time meeting people from all around the world and showing them my favorite spots.I also give frequent 10 person weekend street photography workshops. These usually have a Friday, meet-and-greet dinner, 2 hour Sat and Sun classroom sessions in the mornings, and then the rest of the day is spent out photographing in a bunch of different neighborhoods in the city with a diverse group of photographers. It’s such a fun experience.Overall, it’s been an incredible experience. I got the idea about 10 years James Maherago from seeing other photographers offer photo tours. However, I decided to also include a historical aspect of my workshops. I’m a certified history tour guide and along with the photography teaching and sightseeing, I give historical and current event accounts of the neighborhoods and cities.I think this is a really important aspect of learning to photograph a neighborhood. The more you know about it, the more interesting and nuanced your photos will be.


  1. Could you please give us some key learnings from your journey in street photography for our budding photographers.

    The key is just to go out there and do it over and over again. You can do this type of work whether you’re in a suburban or quiet neighborhood or in a big city. Even taking 20 minutes here and there to go for a quick walk from your house will yield some incredible results if you keep doing it.Get a small camera and prime 35mm (or similar) lens that is easy to take around with you during your daily life. Don’t just take pictures in the most interesting areas. Seek out the boring and quiet areas where you don’t think you can find good photos and then search for interesting photos. You’ll find that eventually, you will create some of your most interesting work there.And editing is really important. That’s really where the art form of street photography is created. This is where you take these disparate moments and bring them all together into a sequence to tell a fascinating story.

Check out the Website of James Maher here.

chris weston

Chris Weston Interviewed: The Journey From Cabbages To Conservation

Stories are but the right amalgamation of imagination, creativity & experiences! Chris Weston through this interview has reinstated our faith in the above words.

What led the artist to capture narratives & stories. Who influenced his love for Photography in his formative years. What was a rather spiritually connecting experience the artist had, while on an expedition, and much much more!

Here’s your chance to get a sneak peek into the life of Chris Weston through this candid interview!

We are sure you’ll love reading it as much as we loved conducting it!


chris weston


  • Being from a small town of Lincolnshire what were the virtues you feel you picked up while growing up in such a humble setting?

Lincolnshire is an agricultural region of the UK, known for its potatoes and cabbages. The land is vast and flat, with few defining features. If you just wander out with a camera, it’s not the sort of place you’ll bump into pretty scenic shots. Lincolnshire made me work at my photography. It forced me to learn how to use a camera creatively, and how to apply composition and principles of design to make an image, rather than simply take one. Those skills have stayed with me ever since, which means I’m unreliant on technology or luck to create compelling images.


  • Who were, or are your strongest support from the day you stepped out to follow your dreams?

My father gave me my first ever camera, when I was 10-years old, and he encouraged me to learn the ropes. Later, it was his belief in my photography that gave me the confidence to turn professional. At primary (elementary) school, I had a teacher – Miss Langley. She used to tell us stories of a far-away magical land, called Uganda. I was spellbound and I attribute my love of travel, in part, to those stories. Recently, I set out to find her, to tell her the role she had played in becoming the person I am today. We met and I told her about the Uganda stories. She told me, she wasn’t my teacher, she was standing in while my teacher was on sick leave, and the only reason she talked about Uganda was, she didn’t know what else to talk about! I love how the Universe conspires to reveal the path we are destined to tread.


chris weston

  • What’s that one thing you like about your life with cabbages & your life in the savannahs?

Growing up in Lincolnshire enabled me to develop my imagination. There was little else to do, so we made up our own stories and acted them out. That experience has enabled me to approach photography in a similar way, so when I’m in the savannas of Africa, or the jungles of South America and Asia, I am unconstrained by convention. I seek out the hidden stories, the stories that lie beneath the surface, and they form the narratives of my images. I think it’s one of the greatest gifts a photographer can have.


  • As a wildlife photographer and a conservationist, what are the things you are doing or wish to do in order to keep Earth healthy?

Ecological health comes from balance. The greatest threat to wildlife and wild habitats, right now, is human poverty. It’s no coincidence that the planet’s most endangered wildlife exists in areas of greatest human poverty. In order to protect wildlife and habitat we have to make trees worth more standing than felled, and animals worth more alive than dead. If we achieve that, people will protect them. One of my main projects at the moment is creating the documentary film Animals on the Edge, which sets out to show how we can create sustainable conservation that benefits all stakeholders.

chris weston

  • Did teaching and coaching come to you naturally? How was the process?

As a kid, I was always asking “Why?” Why does that work? Why do we do that? Photography was the same. I didn’t just want to know what shutter speed was, or what lens aperture is, is what the white balance setting does, I wanted to know why I needed them in the first place. Knowing why puts you in control, it helps you learn by making sense of things. I think because that was my approach to learning, it’s easy for me to approach teaching the same why. I can explain, in down-to-earth terms not just what something does and how you would use it, I’m also able to explain why you would use it, which helps put that knowledge in context, making it easier to retain and apply in the field. 


  • Can you share with us a story from one of your shoots that you hold very dearly in your memory?

I was in India, predominantly to photograph tigers. We had taken a break and I was alone in the jeep when, in the distance, about 50m away, I saw a female elephant with a calf. The calf was about a year old and inquisitive. Seeing the jeep, it kept taking a step towards me but every time it did, its mother reached out her trunk and pulled it back to safety. I watched for a while, intrigued. I had been learning a lot about the martial art of Tai Chi, which is mostly about the movement of energy, and so I decided to play a game. I imagined shifting all my energy to my heart and pooling it there. As I did so, the baby elephant stepped forward and the most amazing thing happened – the mother took a step away. The baby came all the way over to the jeep, so close I could have touched it. It lifted its little trunk and kissed me, then withdrew a few inches and blew warm air all around me. I later learned that elephants from disparate herds greet each other this way in a gesture that means, we will never again be strangers. I didn’t take a single image – there are some moments that cannot be captured in a photograph.


chris weston

  • What first lit the spark of imagination that later became your base for visual storytelling?

I was fascinated by inane questions about nature, like, why are zebras black and white striped when they live in a yellow savannah? I was fascinated by how nature worked, the amazing behavior of all the different species, and how everything seemed to be connected. With that fascination, I’d set out to find answers to all these questions I had and, once I’d found an answer, I was chomping at the bit to tell people. I chose photography as my medium for storytelling, and that’s how wildlife and photography came together. It remains the same today. Wildlife is my passion, photography is simply a tool I use to tell stories. 


  • What’s that one thing you’d suggest your followers do, to be able to tell a story right visually?

You have to approach photography the right way round. Most people take pictures without ever really thinking what they’re taking a picture of. If you don’t know what the story is, how can you decide what lens to use, or what camera settings to apply, or what elements in the picture space add to your story or detract from it? Before I press the shutter, I always ask myself the question, how will I caption this image? If I can’t answer that question, I stop … and I wait for a better image.


chris weston

You can acquire the skill of Visual Storytelling through the course by Chris Weston!

Also, you can check out the work by the man himself on his website.

Dan Hecho

Dan Hecho Interviewed On Creating Art & Not A Photograph

In today’s day & age where everything is superficial & express, to go back in time to find the roots is something which barely a few people do. In a time where being old school is being old fashioned & uncool, Dan Hecho with his creations has set a new benchmark for creativity! As he mentioned in the interview, he draws his inspiration from The Renaissance paintings & rightly so, his work is a reflection of exactly that!

We are fortunate to market one of the hot-selling workshops by Dan Hecho on our platform, & have received an overwhelming response for the same!

Here is an interview with the man himself!


Dan Hecho


  1. What drove you towards photography & specifically nude photography?

Ans.: For me, photography is a reflection of the inner world of a person. In the world of forms, the most perfect and beautiful is the form of the female body, in fact it is an expression of beauty as itself. My goal is to show and bring beauty to our world.



2. Is there anyone in the photography business you look up to?

Ans.: My inspiration is Renaissance painting, not photography.


Dan Hecho

3. What is your ideal process of starting with a nude photoshoot?

Ans.: For me, photography is always pure creativity and no preparation. I need a model, natural light, and a camera.

Dan Hecho

4. Was there any particular photoshoot memory you’d want to share?

Ans.: All my shootings are an amazing process of creativity and I love each of them.

Dan Hecho


5. How do you select your models? Is there any particular model you love to work with? If yes, why?

Ans.: I prefer slender models in which the structure of bones is well-read, it is more graphic and interesting to me. I like models that can live emotions in the frame, and not just pose.



Dan Hecho



6. If not nude photography, then what would be your second choice in photography genres?

Ans.: I like to shoot ballet as well





7. How did teaching happen to you? Or was it always a part of the plan?

Ans.: Photographers seeing my work asked to share secrets and I began to teach.

Dan Hecho

8. Do you aspire to relocate to other parts of the world, to showcase your art? Or will you be true to Ukraine forever?

Ans.: I traveled to more than 30 countries with my masterclasses, I want to do it further. Art has no boundaries.


Dan Hecho

Dan Hecho


9. You have trained thousands of students to carve their niche in nude photography. What would you like to say to the other thousands who aspire to learn from you?
Ans.: Learn to be yourself, listen to your inner world and reflect it in your work.




You can check out the personal artwork of Dan Hecho on this link, & for some smashing nude presets you can click here.

andy armstrong taping

Andy Armstrong Interviewed: On Capturing The Essence In A Portrait

Andy Armstrong, not just a photographer but a true artist behind the lens. We were fortunate to get a chance to peek into the life of this creator and understand his process of conceptualizing, feeling, understanding and executing his masterpieces. A humble creator, Andy Armstrong speaks about the inspiration he draws from his family. Giving his wife the credit where it is due! The artist further speaks of portraiture from a perspective none would have imagined. He also talks about his best works,( or the work that moved him) so far showing his connect and passion towards every still that he captures. Speaking about his favorite muse “Swaggs” he finished his interview on a rather inspirational note creating a mark in the minds of thousands that look up to him for inspiration. Here is the whole interview with Andy Armstrong.

  • Was photography always a passion and a career option for you even as a kid?

andy armstrong woman with balletNo, but art always was. From a time I can remember, I’ve always loved drawing. In fact, I was a graphic designer and artist long before I picked up a camera. Decent, affordable digital cameras hit the market when I was running a web design business, so I picked one up and fell in love. Here’s the thing. As an artist, it’s next to impossible to truly convey an idea to an audience. The idea in your head is almost always better than what your hand puts on the paper or canvas. What I found with digital photography was that I could finally convey that idea. I could finally show people what was in my head – more so than I could in a drawing.  Couple photography with what I was doing with digital design, and there was just no turning back. It was more gratifying for me than any other medium I’d ever used.   



  • You come from a different school of thought than a traditional portrait photographer. What made you think of portraiture in this way?

For me, it was about boiling what a portrait was down to its essence. We all grew up getting school photos and sitting at Olan Mills, but what IS a portrait really? Is that it? I don’t think so at all. 

I don’t believe that every subject needs to stare at the camera with a big smile. I don’t believe that multiple subjects have to be balanced in triangle formation, and I don’t believe that everyone needs to wear perfectly coordinated outfits. In fact, I believe that there is only one “have to” in making portrait images: The portrait must convey a sense of the subject’s real personality and humanity. That’s all. 

I just believe that if I can capture who you truly are at this moment in time, then I’ve done my job. On the other hand, if I’m just throwing your butt in a seat and asking you for a big smile, then the result may capture your appearance, it doesn’t say anything about who you are. 

andy armstrong art of posing

  • Many photoshoots that you have done are in or around water bodies. Is that intentional or a coincidence? If intentional then why?

I love shooting sunrises. I like shooting people at sunrise, and in particular I like to shoot strobe against the sun to get the richness of color of that sunrise. I live in a part of the country with some amazing lakes, and I found that if I shot those sunrises in the water, I could completely envelope the subject in the richness of that color.  So, I’m not sure that it’s about the water per se. It’s more about how can I show as much of this beauty as possible in one shot. The water lets me do that. 

andy armstrong sunset and water


  • Who has been that person in your life who inspired you to pursue photography?

In June of this year, I will have been married for 24 years. My wife has always been my biggest support of everything I’ve done since we met, but she’s been extraordinary when it comes to my photography. In fact, I’m always on the lookout for new models, and my wife will be the first to spot someone new and hand them my card.

andy armstrong

On the flip side of that, I’m rarely inspired by other photographers. Don’t get me wrong, I think there are truly extraordinary photographers out there, and I love to see their work, but I try so very hard not to fall in love with any single person’s work. I don’t want to be influenced too much by the style they’ve crafted. I

want my work to be my own. So, when it comes to inspiration, I normally turn to music and film to inspire my photography.

For example, the films of director Tony Scott have inspired me many times to get gritty and be creative. To step outside of my normal bounds and try something new.  



  • Can you pinpoint one shoot which was your best experience so far? and why?

There are two shoots that were pivotal for me. First was a shoot I did with a model in Orlando. Our simple shower concept and my digital tweaking yielded a domestic violence image called “He promised he would change.”  That image won WPPI’s Commercial Image of the Year in 2010. 

andy armstrong moonshining

The second shoot was very straightforward. I was hired to shoot the notorious moonshiner, Popcorn Sutton for a company that was using his recipe to create legal moonshine. In 2007, the ATF had arrested Sutton after discovering 850 gallons of moonshine stored on his property. He was convicted on federal charges in 2008  and scheduled to start serving his time in Federal prison the Friday after I photographed him, so this was the new company’s last chance to get images for commercial use. Here’s the thing. Popcorn never reported to Federal Prison. He took his own life the day after our shoot. I was shocked to say the least, but those images are harrowing. You can see the trouble in his eyes.


  • You have done a series of shoots with Savannah Swaggerty. What is it that andy armstrong classicmakes her the ideal muse for your shoots?

She’s beautiful, crazy, fun, and she listens and learns. She’s become a good friend of mine, and I love the images we create. I think it’s always good for artists to have a muse – someone that is always willing to shoot. Someone who you can “create” with – Swaggs is that for me and has been for a while now. 


  • You have won many awards from paramount organizations, which award to andy armstrongdate has been the most valuable for you?

Commercial Image of the Year from WPPI for sure. First, it’s a prestigious award that I got to accept on stage in person at the annual convention in Las Vegas. But more than that, it falls into my category of choice. I love editorial and illustrative work – and somehow the award means more to me, because it does fall into what I consider a very “artistic” category. 


  • What’s your family’s take on your awesome captures?

My wife and daughter have always been super supportive of me. My daughter is 22 now. She’s a better artist than I am honestly, but she grew up in front of my camera and watching me create. 

andy armstrong lady in water


  • What would you want to advise the budding photographers that look up to you?

andy armstrong eleganceRealize that there are many aspects to photography – especially portrait photography and you need to learn and constantly work at all of them. 

First and foremost, learn your camera – how it works, how it functions, the nuts and bolts, the science of the tool itself. Truly master it, because without that knowledge, your photography will always suffer. 

Second, and almost as important if you’re working with people, learn how to communicate and direct. Learn interpersonal skills. Learn how to make people feel comfortable quickly. Learn how to express ideas clearly and concisely. andy armstrong woman on railway trackWhile there are some amazing photography tips in my book, this is largely the bulk of what’s there. Without truly good interpersonal skills, you will never be able to create portraits that go beyond appearance. It’s the interpersonal skills that allow you to get the most out of people. 

Third, learn about art and composition. Learn the rules first, and then learn how to break them. Studying light and the how and the why of art will help you with your photography.

And finally, the only other thing I’d say to budding photographers is this. Don’t make this a job until you have to. Learn everything you can before you do and get really good at it before you hang out your shingle.


You can check out the work of Andy Armstrong on his website.

Emma O'Brien man's best friend

Emma O’Brien Interviewed: Making A Difference With Photography

Finding beauty and life in places where the world has lost its hope is what makes Emma O’Brien stand out of the crowd. Her journey from capturing as a hobby, to capturing wedding photographs and now being a celebrated animal & human portrait photographer is truly one to vouch for. Emma O’Brien with her great skill, humility, hard work, consistency and never die attitude has carved a niche for herself in the photography industry. We are glad to have had a chance to discuss with Emma O’Brien her journey and her experience of having a series of captures go viral.

Emma O'Brien artist

  1. Did you always aspire to be a photographer, even as a kid? What made you take it up as a profession?

I’ve always appreciated and enjoyed photography. My Dad is a keen photographer, in fact, I commandeered his Nikon D1 when I started my business back in 2004, and my Grandad was also passionate about creating images, but it wasn’t until I was 22 that I decided to pursue it as a full-time career. I was very inspired by the work of W Eugene Smith, I felt very drawn to the way he used his photographs to tell stories and make people aware of events that would otherwise have remained unknown. His work gave me an insight into the impact that photography can have and how it can be used to make a positive difference in the world. So when I decided to become a photographer my initial intention was to somehow make a living out of shooting documentary work, however, I had a small child to take care of and I needed to earn money, so I focussed on wedding photography. It took me another six years to be able to start using my work to make a difference.

Emma O'Brien poodles

2. What brought you to South Africa from the UK?

I moved to South Africa in 2009 with a man I was in a relationship with at the time. I’d not long been divorced and it was an opportunity for a new start and some far better weather!


3. Is there a specific reason why you have chosen animals (dogs) and human portraiture as a niche?

It was never my intention to become a dog photographer, it happened by accident. When I moved to SA, I decided to stop photographing weddings, I’d lost the love and passion for them, so I made the decision to concentrate on portraiture. In February 2011 I went to my local SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and adopted a Dachshund called Jeremy. Whilst I was there, I volunteered to help them with fundraising by photographing a calendar and as I was working with cats and dogs for the project, I discovered I had a talent for shooting pet portraits and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Emma O'Brien shadows

4. Name a brand you have always aspired to work with as a photographer.

I would love to shoot a campaign for Louis Vuitton, they have a very luxurious range of dog accessories!


5. Which is your greatest achievement among all your awards?

Awards are great, however, I’d say the greatest achievement for me has been the massive media coverage received as a result of The BLACK SERIES. This is a series featuring adopted black rescue dogs that I created to highlight the worldwide issue of black dog syndrome (black dogs who end up at shelters are the least likely to be adopted and the most likely to be put to sleep). I shared the portraits onto the Bored Panda website in May last year and it very quickly went viral. I had so many messages from people who, until they’d seen my work, hadn’t been aware of black dog syndrome and also from people pledging to make sure the next dog they got would be from a shelter. My goal of creating work that could make a positive impact in the world came to fruition with The BLACK SERIES.

Emma O'Brien black and white

6. What do you like to do the most? Training, writing a book or photography?

I like taking photographs the most, it will always be my first love.

7. When did you decide you needed to capture the stray?

After I adopted Jeremy from the SPCA, I became very aware of the numbers of unwanted dogs sitting in shelters and I wanted to do something to help them find homes. Great portrait photographs of shelter dogs help to speed up the adoption process, the images get shared online and the dogs find homes much quicker than they would have done with basic cellphone pictures. 

Emma O'Brien pug

8. Do you work for an NGO or organization, if not would you want to?

I still photograph the annual SPCA calendar that I started in 2011 and it’s a project that’s raised over $50,000 to date. There are also a couple of dog shelters that I regularly visit to photograph the dogs that are looking for homes. NGO work is very important to me, I like to do what I can to help.

Emma O'Brien monochrome

9. Being a photographer what will be your advice for others trying to make a name in your industry.

Keep making new work, collaborate with people (this does require being brave and reaching out to new organizations and businesses) and be persistent. Making consistently good and authentic work will always pay off, but it is a process and success doesn’t happen overnight.

Emma O'Brien BABY

Show some love to Emma O’Brien for being organic in her responses, and striving to make a difference.

You can find the work of Emma O’Brien here on her website.

The Ultimate Photography Giveaway 2020

Win Prizes Worth $6200+

The ultimate photography giveaway

It’s always a happy time when you get things for free, & moreover, it’s a gala when you get the hot favorites in that bundle!

We know your passion for photography needs just a slight push from the best in the industry- video courses, guides, photoshop & lightroom add ons and much much more!

The Ultimate Photography Giveaway is here with wins worth $6200+.

This Giveaway has been one of the most awaited!

With just 1 simple step to register and a few small tasks, you can actually manage to bag the bumper prize!!!

Register on the link given by adding your email id and get started with 1 point for registering. With points to be given with each task completed you can earn as follows:

  • 50 points for referring PhotoWhoa to others
  • 50 points for making a purchase
  • 50 points to share this giveaway on your FB profile
  • 30 points to follow PhotoWhoa on Pinterest
  • 20 points to follow us on Instagram
  • 30 points to tweet about the giveaway.

The more the points you collect more is the chance for you to be among the top 3!

The top 3 win a bundle of all our best sellers plus credits. 

The Ultimate Photography Giveaway vertical banner

The Top 3 Win:

1.   3,900+ Lightroom Presets Bundle [Worth $280]

2.   3,100+ Portrait Photography Poses Cards Bundle [Worth $900]

3.   The Ultimate Mood Effects Bundle [Worth $65]

4.   Glamour Training Volume 1 [Worth $49]

5.   1000+ Text Photo Overlays Bundle [Worth $150]

6.   The Watercolor Portraits Bundle [Worth $140]

7.   Professional Skin Retouching Tools Bundle [Worth $290]

8.   StudioMagic – Best Photo Compositing Plugin [Worth $249]

9.   50 Premium Photoshop Actions [Worth $99]

10. 100 Text Overlay Quotes For Your Boudoir Photography [Worth $100]

11. 2500+ Professional Photo Overlays Bundle [Worth $1500]

12. 1500+ Lightroom Presets + BONUS [Worth $1600]

13. Instagram 101 For Photographers [Worth $59.99]

14. 101 T-shirt Design Bundle For Photographers [Worth $199]

15. 12 Artistic Color Caricature & Rough Drawing Effects [Worth $29]

16. 100 One-click Lens Flare Effects [Worth $150]

17. The Ultimate Boudoir Bundle For Photographers [Worth $349]

18. Photography Business Promotional Flyers [Worth $19]

19. The Atmosphere Bundle Of 23 Cool Photoshop Effects [Worth $75]

20. $199 PhotoWhoa Store Credits [Worth $199]

But we have a not so little something for the ones who lost by just a small margin!

25 Collecters of 500 points win a $20 gift card to use in-store 

And 25 collectors of 1000 points win a $50 gift card to use in-store.

So what are you waiting for! A Giveaway that’ll not just make you rich in skills but in your asset holding is waiting for you to participate! 

Don’t miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity!
Click here to check out the giveaway!

You can also get some amazing freebies at PhotoWhoa.com to start with check out these free Photoshop overlays here.


Chris Burkard Interviewed: On Using Your Passion Right

A self-made Photographer who has built a legacy from scratch, Chris Burkard is someone who took the leap at 19 when he realized his love for photography. Going against all odds and making his mark in the industry Chris Burkard mentions hard work, persistence, and passion as the 3 driving forces that helped him in his journey and also encourages other budding photographers to create their own style and strive to perfect it.

In this interview, Chris Burkard speaks about his life, journey in photography, his style and his love for the outdoors and the environment. Chris Burkard also mentions how Chris Burkard uses and plans to use his social standing to do good for the environment and make a difference.

To know more about the artist himself. Read, PhotoWhoa interviewing Chris Burkard!

chris burkard The Man


1. Having a strong inclination towards nature you love to capture landscape, adventure, outdoor and a lot more. Which type among these can you pinpoint as your favorite?

I would say the outdoors in general. My goal is to inspire others to get outdoors and seek out rugged places. I hope to push people to seek out the unknown and allow a bit more uncertainty in their lives as this is how you grow the most and ultimately develop a closer relationship with nature. Everything listed above is similar but my ultimate goal is to push people towards the outdoors in whatever way that might be for each individual.

Chris Burkard Surfing

2. It takes efforts to maintain a social media presence while also running your own business. How do you prioritize investing time? Do you have dedicated people looking after your social presence?

Social Media has created a platform where I’m able to have an extensive body of work that acts as a living portfolio. Companies consistently contact me after having viewed my account with partnering offers due to my high level of engagement. It’s one thing to have a million followers, it’s another when a significant percentage of those followers actually engage with the content you are posting. Often times companies or brands will reach out with a proposal to collaborate on a social post in some way, and it’s not uncommon for the same companies and brands to hire me on for a full-fledged project or campaign. Throughout the years some of my biggest and best jobs have come through my social media channels. I couldn’t be more grateful for the awesome opportunities I have been awarded through my social platform

But over the monetary aspect of social media, it’s a way to show MY favorite work. When you’re shooting for an editorial feature or a commercial client it’s not always your visions that getting out into the world. It’s a client’s or an editor’s. Social media is a direct way of putting your personal favorite work out into the world and telling the story that most accurately how you as a person and brand want to be perceived. I choose to run all my social media as I feel like engaging with all the people who follow and support me is a special part of my job.

3. A philanthropist at heart where do you see this world heading considering the radical climate changes? How do you think can everyone contribute to stopping it?

This is a question and idea that keeps me up at night. I do think we’re at a point where we’re going to see some major changes take effect, things that can’t be reversed which saddens me. I think sometimes people feel as though they need to make some major changes to make a difference, and I like to remind people that any positive behavior is a step in the right direction. Whether it be eliminating single-use plastics, picking up trash on the trail, or riding your bike to work it ALL plays a part. Everyone and their situations are different but any little thing we can do is helpful.



4. Can photography play a key role in driving towards a sustainable earth? Any thoughts and ideas for the photographer out there?

I absolutely think photography can play a key role in driving towards a more sustainable Earth. People respond to visuals, whether they’re positive or negative. I strive to show the beauty of places around the world but also promote that they are only going to remain beautiful if we make sustainability a priority in our lives. I think showing people the beauty of places around the world will make them care more about living a sustainable life and protecting the planet. I also think photos that highlight the damage that is being done will be a powerful mechanism moving forward.

5. Which is your favorite photography gear which you can’t leave the house without?

I shoot with the Sony mirrorless systems. I have shot with Canon, Nikon, and Sony in the past 11 years and have settled on what I believe to be the best system available for lightweight travel and astrophotography. I typically use the Sony A7RIV for about 70% of my work. The Sony A7sii is what I shoot for my night and Astro images. This camera was built for sensitivity at High ISO. The A7RIV is my go-to for commercial work, the R stands for Resolution and provides unparalleled reproduction for large prints and clients needs. When I want to strip down and go super light I use the Sony a6500 as well as when shooting in the water. This camera is perfect for sports photography, hiking, climbing and anytime you need to be weight conscious. For post-processing, I always use Adobe Lightroom.


6. Are there any specific actions or presets you use as your go-to quick fixes?

Nope! I don’t use photoshop and try to edit photos as minimal as possible, keeping them realistic and true to what the scene really looked like. Almost all my photos are solely edited in Lightroom with contrast, temperature, and the tone curve.

7. At the age of 33, you have written over 9 books and won over 20 prestigious awards. How did you prepare to be the person you are today? How young did you begin your journey?

At 19, I enjoyed photography but the idea of turning it into a career was overwhelming. I knew I had to give it 100% if I wanted to make it into something so without any formal training I quit my job (at a magazine store) and started shooting anything for anyone. I would go and shoot surfers at the local beach and try to sell them pictures on DVD’s… I shot weddings and senior pictures and interiors store photos. That obviously wasn’t my end goal but I had to start somewhere. I wanted to learn more about action sports and landscapes photography which is what I was excited about but didn’t know where to turn so I started applying for internships. I finally got an opportunity to intern with Michael Fatali, a large format landscape photographer, and I got an internship at Transworld Surf magazine which was an incredibly valuable experience. Through trial and error, I taught myself and began to develop a style. Hard work, persistence, and having a passion for what I do has taken me a long way. For the first part of my career, I slept in my car a lot, so nothing happens quickly. I would say it was about 4 years until I really started making an income. During my transworld internship, I commuted 5 + hours every week and lived in my car. I really look back fondly at those more challenging times because it makes you appreciate having to work for what you have and giving something of yourself for your career.

8. Are your kids influenced by your art and your ideologies or are they willing to be trailblazers in a different field just like you?

To be honest, they’re still pretty young to answer this. They definitely love the outdoors and to be outside exploring, as many kids do. I love to take them to the beach, hikes or camping trips and they’re starting to take interest in these things on their own. However, they’re young to be interested in photography or art. When people ask, I always tell them I’ll be happy with whatever they want to do, I just want them to develop their own passions. If they want to be trailblazers great, if they are inspired by photography, great, but I won’t push them in one direction!


9. Summing the interview, what would be your advice to the people who are beginning their careers in this field?

The best thing that you can do as an aspiring photographer is to identify a style that represents you well, develop within that style, and keep shooting to perfect it. It’s super important to have your images be recognizable by editors and others who are looking at your work. With a large number of photographers that are out there now you must find ways to stand out. The best compliment I can ever receive is when people know my photography work instantly when they see it. Diversification in your work is great, but it’s important to remember that often you are hired by a client or a magazine because you are a specialist at something. That is a good thing! It’s good to be known very distinctively for something and it’s a great way to get your name out there. Start with what you know and only put the work out there you are truly proud of and willing to show the world. Then work on the other aspects and over time they will be at the same quality. If you are great at one thing and mediocre at many others it often drags down the great work in your portfolio. I have spoken to many editors about this and it’s one of the things that I have heard over and over again.


A humble, passionate, distinct, and aware photographer, we loved to interview Chris Burkard.

You can check out the work of Chris Burkard on his website.

Richard Bernabe Captures: Cormorant Fisherman

Richard Bernabe Interviewed: On Capturing The Experience

A creative and gifted visionary, Richard Bernabe has been among the very few photographers who not just capture beautiful pictures but are able to tell a story and share an experience with it! 

An artist at his core Richard Bernabe is the live example of a “master of all.” He makes the transition from Photography, to great writing, to exceptional orating and much more so effortless and smooth that it just feels like one whole great experience.

A profession developed and nurtured from his hunger to soak in as many experiences and capturing their nostalgic memories, finds it’s crux in just a simple term- as he puts it, “happiness!”

It’s easy to capture the world but difficult to empathetically strive to reduce the harm caused to it. Richard Bernabe has not just spoken but acted upon very strongly about his love for the planet and the flora and fauna on it!

Richard Bernabe, a name loved, respected and idolized by many is a person who loves his solace, and as he states further in the interview, “remote areas still intimidate me.” has carved a niche for himself in this ever-growing sector.

If you would like to know more about him, you can always visit his website here. In this interview, we had a chance to connect with Richard Bernabe via email and to ask him a few questions.
Richard Bernabe Captures: Horses


1. Being a multifaceted person, you are widely known for photography, traveling, educating, orating and writing. What among these brings you the utmost joy?

Well first, I want to thank you for the opportunity for me to answer questions for your readers as well as the very kind compliment. 

Photography and travel give me the greatest amount of pure joy, although the other things you mentioned all help make a fulfilling, creative life where no two days are ever the same. Creating images with my camera, preferably alone, in some far-flung corners of the planet, is wildly intoxicating. Freya Stark’s observation about the sensation of waking up alone in a strange city comes as close to capturing that feeling as anything else. Teaching is incredibly satisfying and rewarding – much more than I ever thought it could be – so I carve out some time in my schedule for classes and workshops. Talking in front of live audiences around the world is equal parts crippling fear and exhilaration. I like the walking-the-tightrope vibe it gives me. Writing, on the other hand – well, to paraphrase Hemingway here – is like sitting at the laptop and bleeding, except I’m pretty confident he said “typewriter” instead.


Richard Bernabe Captures :Rays Of Joy


2. Your work with National Geographic exhibits your love for the environment. What has brought you to feel so strongly about these issues?

Tolstoy had a powerful line about “the first condition of human happiness is that the link between man and nature shall not be broken.” And there it is – at least for me. Nature and wild places make me happy and they are the creative inspiration behind my work – my muses if you will.

Wildlife conservation and the protection of endangered species is another passion of mine and I devote much of my time, energy, and finances toward helping preserve these animals for future generations. The statistics are grim, particularly those that show how precipitous the decline in wildlife populations has been over the past 50 years. It’s just heartbreaking. I could go on about the ignorance and greed of animal poaching and the arrogant, egotistical, vain, selfish, megalomaniacal, and psychotic “trophy” hunters, but I think I’ll stop right here.


Richard Bernabe Captures: Spectral Omens


3. Tell us about your journey from being a photographer to a global influencer and a highly sought- after teacher and orator? Did you always envision it, or did things happen for you?

I didn’t envision any of this, to be honest. For the past 15 to 20 years, I’ve simply focused on doing what I love and what I’m passionate about while letting all of what others might regard as “success” take care of itself. I believe, perhaps in some small way, that not focusing on the rewards of success was key for me. It allowed me to stay focused on doing happy things. Success can be measured in several different ways but isn’t doing what you truly love an important measure of success already? Maybe the most important? It’s certainly enough for me.

Being labeled as an influencer is a function of how many social media followers you have – another yardstick of “success” that doesn’t really concern me very much. I’m flattered, of course, that people do follow me and they enjoy my work but most of this influencer business is just a distraction.


4. From among the 10 books you have written, which for you has been one of the most challenging and which one did you love to work on?

My first book was released in 2006 and it was a coffee table book that featured photographs from my adopted home state of South Carolina titled South Carolina Wonder and Light. It’s now out of print, but there are some ancient copies floating somewhere around my office. You never quite forget your first, right? The first one is special. 

My most recent, Wildlife Photography: From First Principles to Professional Results involved producing 45,000 words of text, almost all of it completed during the summer of 2017 while traveling through Africa – writing whenever I had any downtime on planes, buses, cars – in tents, hotels. It was exhausting. The book was released last year, and my publisher tells me it’s been a commercial success, so thanks to all of you who bought a copy.


Richard Bernabe Captures: Desert Solitaire


5. You being one of the most popular orators, influencers, and photography authors which is your favorite platform or medium to communicate with the masses on?

I like Twitter, even if it does represent both the best and worst the Internet has to offer. If you’re there to argue politics with other humans, it most certainly is a dystopian hellscape that will make your life a dark, dark place. Don’t do that, ok? But even if you’re not a content creator, it’s the best and easiest way to consume news and information that touches on your life’s interests. Just remember to stay narrowly focused on the things that make you happy. If you want to wade into the planet’s biggest virtual town square and discuss world events, do so gently and don’t take anything too personal.


Richard Bernabe Captures: Catching Snowflakes


6. With the immensely diverse yet focused globetrotting experience, which has been your favorite photography destination for wildlife, adventure, and cultural photography?

For wildlife, Tanzania’s Serengeti Plains. Serengeti National Park is Africa’s premier location for viewing and photographing the continent’s charismatic megafauna. Runner up for favorite? Antarctica. Or Yellowstone.

Adventure? Alaska. Despite at least a dozen trips I’ve made to different areas of the state, the more remote areas still intimidate me. The wilderness is so big and unforgiving. My runner up would be the Southern Andes of Patagonia.

For cultural photography, I’d go with India. Morocco is a close second.


7. With experience and expertise like yours, what is the top piece of advice you’d give an adventure photographer?

This would be useful for any photographer or artist, I believe. I used to teach a class on Photography and Creativity in a formal college classroom setting. On Day One, I would go around the classroom, from student to student, and ask them a question: aside from photography – which is merely a mode of communication and expression, if not creative expression – what was their first thought each morning and what was the last thought they had before falling asleep each night? I wanted to know their passions. I wanted to know what made each of them tick. 

I never explained why I asked the question until the very final class when I reminded them of their answers. I remembered them all. By then, they should have understood that their answers would provide a personal roadmap as to where they should focus their photographic efforts. If it was nature, then that’s where they should direct their creative energy. Children? The same. Cars, flowers, travel, pets, hiking? Go for it. Let those interests be your muses. In those passions, you have something important, special, and unique to share with the world, so use the skills you’ve learned with the camera to express them. You can’t inspire others with your photography if you – the actual owner of the experiences you’re trying to express – feel ambivalence. It’s nearly an impossible task. In order to inspire others, you, yourself, need to be inspired. Make that your job – to be inspired as much and as often as possible. Be receptive to inspiration so you have something unique and interesting about yourself to share with other people. In that vein, your photography will say much more about you, the photographer, than your subjects, which is the way it should be.


8. To sum it all up. What is photography for you? (What does it remind you of?)

I’ll use this opportunity to expand on my last answer. My job is to go out and be inspired: That’s it. The important thing here is the experience of being inspired. The experience, to me, is everything. I want to have as many apex experiences as possible where I am literally moved to tears by the overpowering beauty or the devastating sadness I see and feel. And it’s what I feel – not what I see – that’s important. That’s a strange thing, perhaps, for a photographer to say. The emotional content of a scene is the vital core around which I’ll build my image. Without it, it’s just a pretty picture. I want my viewers, who might be thousands of miles removed from the physical scene and experience, to feel what I am feeling, not necessarily what I am seeing. That is photography for me.


We are glad to have got the opportunity to interview such a superfluous creative, Richard Bernabe!

Easton Chang Interview: World Renowned Self-Taught Automotive Photographer

Automobile photography is seen almost everywhere these days. But have you ever wondered the science behind this genre of photography?

Let me introduce you to Easton Chang, a world-renowned automotive photographer. His work is regularly seen on magazine covers, advertisements and his clients are Cadillac, Jaguar, Mazda, General Motors, Ford Lexus, Audi, and Porsche just to name a few…

In this short interview, Easton will share some of his views and perceptions about automobile photography with us.

Untitled design (13)

You are in a photography genre which is rare. How did you get started with automotive photography? What inspired you to choose this uncommon genre of photography?

My love of photography started with my love of cars. Automotive was always
my first passion in high school, before venturing out into photography after.
When I bought my first real car (a 2001 Honda Integra Type R) all I wanted to
do was to take great photos of it. It started out with my family’s own cheap
film camera, and then I bought my own digital camera. I had to learn
Photoshop just in order to make the photos pop!

I see that you are a self-taught photographer. Can you tell us a little about your journey and how you learned photography on your own?

I studied engineering at university whilst developing my hobby as a
photographer. Looking at and observing my favorite work in advertising at
the time, and trying my best to emulate and develop my own look as well.
Once you get the basics down pat, the more specialized knowledge in
shooting cars is all from experience. There is a lot of trial and error.

Even 15 years down the line, I am still learning all the time.

Photographing objects in action is far more challenging than photographing still ones. What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing cars?

The sheer size is what makes everything about shooting them difficult.
Lighting, tracking, following, positioning, placement. It’s like product
photograph except it’s significantly larger than anything most people would fit
in their home studio. So off-the-shelf lighting equipment such as softboxes,
scrims, and reflectors generally aren’t developed in mind of shooting
something as large as a car. Cars also invoke emotion, they’re a lot more to
some than just an inanimate object. So you have to learn to shoot and frame
the car so that it tells a bit of a story. Lighting and exposure are not enough.
People are fussy about the environment a car is embedded in.

As I was going through your website I came across through this photograph… It is mesmerizing. Could you take us behind the scene and tell us the techniques you used to capture this particular shot?

best car photography

This shot of the 918 Spyder was shot for Porsche in 2015 in the Australian
outback. Right after doing a 350km/hr run in (at the time) an unrestricted
section of Stuart Highway. I went up in a helicopter to capture the 918 tearing
up the scorched earth of the Aussie Outback.

I would tend to believe that you would have some favorite equipment(s) for automotive photography? Could you share which equipment would add the most value for an automotive photographer?

I love my Canon 24-70 F2.8 II lens, although any 24-70 zoom works as well.
It forces me to shoot in the range that I like seeing cars in most. Which is
between the 24 – 50mm range. It’s too easy to shoot wider than that, but the
24 zoom forces me to keep some distance and maintain composure of the
car. Shooting at 17mm is sometimes the lazy way out. Manufacturers hate
seeing their cars shot so wide because it hides the proportions the designers
painstakingly finished.

How did you go from shooting just in your local community to shooting cars for major brands?

I went from shooting privately owned cars as a hobby for shooting editorially in Sydney and Melbourne for my favorite magazines. Eventually, the ad
agencies approached me for projects and that’s how I made the move.

Can you share some important tips that a beginner should try while starting out in automotive photography?

The market is quite saturated now compared to before, it’s not enough to
create images that “match” the standards nowhere. But to exceed the
standards and to create new unique looks and styles that lead towards the
next cycle.

best car photography

What are the challenges you and your team usually face when you’re out in the field and how do you overcome those challenges?

The biggest challenges usually come from the production and logistical side
of cars on the field rather than the photography. Camera and lighting
equipment are generally extremely reliable, but getting the car and crew in
place at the right time and location can be teeming with unexpected
problems. Rain, traffic, accidents, anything can happen and often does.

Is there anything else that you love to do besides photography?

Besides shooting cars I love shooting personal artistic photography with
models and other creatives.

You also have a tutorial on Car Photography & Retouching. Do you love
to teach as well?

I enjoyed making the tutorial on car photography and photo retouching, although I
don’t normally teach as I’m focused on developing my work. Maybe later
down the track, I can look at teaching a little more.

Can you tell us what future plans do you have? Or what are your
upcoming projects?

Right now I’m having to pool some resources towards more video work as it’s
becoming an ever increasingly request from clients. The transition is not as
significant as I anticipated and a lot of what I know from photography has
been applicable to the motion. I’m focusing on having motion work look as
polished as my photography.

best car photography

What advice do you have for somebody who’s picking up a camera for the first time?

Don’t be obsessed with the gear in your kit, cameras, and lighting are far more
developed and cheaper than they have ever been and high-end work is more
achievable on a shoe-string budget than ever before. It’s important to know
the difference between a Photography Enthusiast and a Gear Enthusiast.
Don’t get too caught up in groups and YouTube videos and focus more on
shooting your ideas.

Find out more about Easton Chang photography here!


Alister Benn Interview : A Photographer With Intimate Knowledge Of Diverse Landscapes

Protected by International Copyright

Alister Benn, a professional landscape photographer from Scotland, grew up with a profound interest and respect for the natural world.

His work has been awarded in some of the most prestigious photography competitions like Le Prix de la Photographie Paris, etc.

He also writes regular articles in Landscape Photography Magazine and onlandscape Magazine. He has a solid reputation as both a technician photographer and a deep thinker.

In 2000, Alister met his wife Juanli Sun and together they have been running their own workshops and started the Available Light Images website.

In this interview, we speak to Alister to seek out more insights into his work and his passion towards photography.

Alister spoke to us via email…

professional landscape photographer

You seem to have a very interesting childhood. Can you take us to the time you grew up and tell us more about it?

I was born in the city of Glasgow in the mid 60’s but was always a country kid at heart. My father was in the Navy and we were fortunate enough to travel with him, or get delayed satellite phone calls from exciting far off places. We moved into the country when I was 12 and I guess my formative years started then.

I am the youngest of three brothers and from them, I got a real love for the landscape and all the wildlife that inhabits it. Every weekend we’d be out hill-walking or bird-watching and my first choice of career would have been in either conservation or research.

I had a little SLR Olympus from when I was about 14 and was enthusiastic about recording what I found in the landscape. Shooting one 36 frame slide film every couple of months didn’t teach me much about exposure theory, but I recall a few images I was happy with even then.

I was a quiet kid, outside exploring, or in my room listening to music in a minor key!

How did you decide you wanted to pursue photography as your profession and what inspired you?

We need to fast forward a few decades. Life has a habit of getting in the way of what we want to do, and it wasn’t until 2002 when we moved to live in Malaysia that I had the time to start thinking creatively again. Birds were still a huge part of my life and I wanted to start getting some photographs of them.

I spent a long time getting a handle on the creative and technical aspects of bird photography but shot a few landscapes on vacations from about 2004.

By 2009 I had been in the corporate world for 20 years and the travel and stress were beginning to take their toll. I seriously started to think about a change of career, even though I had no income or means of an income from photography.

I had a huge interest in night photography, which dated back to my study of Astronomy and Astrophysics at University, but I struggled to find any good learning material that didn’t just talk about generalizations and rules of thumb. So, I began a three-year project to research everything I could and work out from first principles how to make landscape images at night.

In 2012 I published my first eBook, Seeing the Unseen, How to Photograph Landscapes at Night. It proved to be very popular and by default I found myself making a living from what I loved to do.

My inspiration has always been the landscape, the fine balance that nature sustains and a desire to have a holistic relationship with that system. Transcending image-making and aiming for a more expressive approach has always been my goal.

Did you have any formal education or mentors who helped to shape your profession as a photographer?

In short no. I’m self-taught, but I don’t live in a vacuum. I’ve been inspired by many photographers over the years, some famous, others unknown. The background in bird photography gave me a solid technical foundation, but for the last decade have worked on more expressive, creative output. I’m very disciplined and self-motivated and when I decide to learn something, it stays learned!

In the year of 2000, you and your wife lived in the Tibetan region and spent most of your time exploring the Himalayas. Can you tell us more about your experience and share a memory that you will never forget?

My wife Juanli and I met in Beijing in 2000, but we didn’t move down to the Tibetan Region until 2004, and finally moved to Lhasa the capital of Tibet in 2007.

But yes, for over a decade we lived and traveled extensively in that region, both north and south of the Himalaya. Living at between 9000 and 12000 feet is magical; clear air, intoxicating views and a calmness that lingers with me today as I look out over our Scottish Glen to the sea below.

Growing up in Scotland does not prepare you for the cultural differences in somewhere like Tibet. The people, landscape, and their faith are interwoven into an inseparable fabric. It’s a brutal environment, 50% of the oxygen than at sea level, frozen, or baked in equal measure. I miss it, and can’t wait to get back to the big mountains.

In 2015 we co-led a trek into the east side of Everest and on the second night camped at about 17000 feet. After a fitful sleep I was finally warm and snug in my down bag, but the whole inside of the tent was frozen from our breath.

As the first dim light of dawn woke me, I crawled out the tent and made my way up to a lake high above me for sunrise. I was alone, mildly hypoxic, and exhausted with every step. I found a spot by the lake and collapsed on the ground, gasping for breath. From my repose, I noticed a superb reflection of Makalu, Lhotse, and Everest and set up my camera where I lay.

As the first light hit the big peaks it was like an explosion in my mind, to be so high, in that place, alone was just incredible. The effort required to get into these places is huge. The mental effort to overcome the elements can be daunting, but the rewards of internal growth are immeasurable.

Can you tell us about your award-winning picture “ The Crystal Embrace” which you received from the Le Prix de la Photographie Paris?

professional landscape photographer

In December 2016 we were running a small workshop in the west of Scotland. There were only two participants, and the four of us were a really tight unit, leaving a small footprint on the vast landscape. Scotland was experiencing one of its rare calm times, a nice high-pressure system that brought cold, clear conditions.

We were in Torridon and the trees were plastered in frost. I’d found a great little viewpoint and had the guys set up for their images. There was no room for me, so I took this shot over their shoulders handheld, with a shallow depth of field to allow a fast enough shutter speed. I liked the blurring of the foreground trees and they created a window through to the river and the warm light of dawn.

I worked it quite a few months later (as is the norm for me) and it was actually Juanli who suggested I enter it to the Px3. I was very surprised when it won the gold medal.

When you were just starting out as a photographer, what was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

Things have changed hugely in that time; back in the early 2000’s there was a real lack of good learning material, so I guess my biggest challenge was just working out what I didn’t know. Digital photography was still quite new and there was a big difference in what would be a traditional film-based methodology, versus where digital has come in the last 20 years.

For myself and my peers, it was a case of working it out for ourselves. Not until about 2011 was their an explosion of real quality learning material which has made the question “How do I do that?” Easier to answer.

The best advice I can always give is to keep things simple. There is a human tendency to complicate things, and modern gear, software, and computers are complex tools, capable of a billion things. Deciding what type of photographer you want to be and learning the bare essentials to make this happen is the surest way I know to save yourself a lot of heartaches.

When I’m working I always default to the quickest, easiest way to achieve what I want – why complicate things just to be clever? Creativity can only flow when you’re engaged in the art side of things. If you’re locked into technical challenges your images will reflect that.

What is the key to making a great landscape photograph? Can you describe the process behind one of your favorite photographs? 

Engagement, flow, imagination, technical proficiency and confidence!

professional landscape photographer

This photograph is certainly one of my best known and it is a real favorite of mine. It was taken in early 2011 in Spain and was the start of a process of creativity that is still with me today, although in a more distilled format.

I had begun to really start thinking about isolationism and the process of stripping landscapes down to their very essence. In other words, what is it in this scene in front of me that can summarise the whole by showing as little as possible.

On this night the moon was giving a lot of light and the waves were really crashing in on the shore. The whole area was chaos and noisy. By zooming into the sea stacks and using a long exposure (something like 7 minutes I think) – I stripped the chaos down to this very simple and graphical representation of this beautiful beach.

The fact it was dark, led me to come up with the expression Seeing the Unseen, which typifies my approach to creativity; seeing something that doesn’t exist in a literal sense.

Processing is very simple, maybe only a few minutes in Lightroom.

What gives you ideas to create such amazing work of art?

Well, thank you for the kind words, but of course I don’t see them like that; for me, it’s just about expressing myself and letting out what needs to come out.

One place I don’t get inspiration is from other photographs, I really don’t look at very much these days, preferring instead to let my own imagination and creative drive lead to new work.

I do listen to lots of music though, increasingly Minimalism, Ambient and making my own. For a couple of years now I’ve been writing in various magazines about the process of creativity, and the concept of harmonic resonance is a common theme.

I like the idea that nature is what it is. It has no inherent metaphor associated with it. What we see in it, feel in it and create with it are constructs of our own perspective and imagination.

In short, where I am now is to allow my subconscious a voice. I try not to guide my work with much if any conscious creative thought. I shoot innately, compose by feel rather than any pre-visualised rule or guideline, and certainly process images without thought.

A firm grasp of the theory of How to Do Stuff with the camera and in front of the computer have created this platform that allows me to explore my subconscious within a flow state.

Flow States are the Utopian dream, I only feel I am truly creative when I’m in one.

Can you tell us about your workshops and what can a photographer learn from the workshops?

My wife and I love running our workshops, we really do. Firstly we only have very small groups, mostly 2 or 3, but occasionally topping out at 5 or 6. This allows for a great little group dynamic and lots of one on one time with us both. Juanli is a great photographer in her own right and is very patient.

I was discussing this with our group last week here in Scotland. The most common goal of our participants is to get in touch with their creative side, and this doesn’t work if I just tell people what to do.

Each person sees the world through their own eyes, and I believe they have a vision that is truly unique to them. If I was to take three people to a beach and ask them to write a short story on a piece of paper describing where they are, what the light and weather is like and what is attracting their eye. Each essay would be different.

I do not wish to force everyone into a mould that looks the same. I want to teach people to make images that are theirs, not mine.

We also like to have fun; we enjoy chatting about vision, philosophy, creativity, technical routes to greater freedom in the field and in front of the computer. We also only run trips to places we really love; Scotland, Spain, Tibet and the Gobi Desert.

Here and Now

Besides photography, can you tell us your other hobbies or what you love to do?

Creativity is my life, everything I do revolves around creating new work, developing my skill sets, thinking about it, writing about it, or being out in the field with clients. I’m an experiential person, my life is a journey and everything I do has a purpose.

I play guitar and create music on my computer. I read and write with equal passion. I hike the hills around our home every day, looking at the place, it’s wildlife and the ever-changing seasons. But, to me, none of it is work, and all of it is work.

What is your greatest achievement so far?

I’m not really interested in the concept of achievement. I’m driven to become the very best version of me that I can be and suppress any ego associated with being good at what I do. Still being alive, fit, healthy and married to Juanli gives me great satisfaction!

professional landscape photographer

Would you like to share a few tips for all the aspiring photographers out there who are also looking to build a reputation as an artist?

Social media has changed the ballpark. Popularity, quality, and creative integrity do not always walk hand in hand. My advice would be to shoot for yourself, create for yourself and don’t think about building a reputation at all. If your work speaks to you; it’s authentic, individual and expressive, it will speak to others.

Everyone with a phone or camera is a photographer, we’re not alone out there.

There’s an old expression that says you’ll never catch a butterfly if you chase it, but if you sit quietly and patiently it will come and land on your finger.

I am not interested in the trappings of success in my field, I’m interested in my own growth and quality of life. My work totally reflects me, my vision, my engagement and ever-changing perspectives.

Any notoriety or reputation I have is external and has very little to do with my own awareness. I just do what I do and hope I can help others on their journeys.

Find out more information on Alister Benn’s workshops here!

Related: Check out some tips from Pixpa here