Q & A With Nature Photographer Sarah Marino

We were very impressed when we found Sarah's work. Her precision framing and ability to create a cool, calm feeling really jumped out at us. She has some wonderful advice for those looking to get into photography as well as some inspirational photogs to look at. We think you will really enjoy what she has to share! 

What type of photography do you prefer and why?

I love nature photography.  I focus mostly on grand landscapes but also enjoy photographing a wide range of natural subjects including natural abstracts, smaller scenes, macro subjects, and the very occasional animal.  I really enjoy hiking and backpacking, so landscape photography was a natural extension of those interests.  Photography helps deepen my experiences in wild and scenic places and I find the act of photographing to be quite meditative, in addition to just being a lot of fun.  And, after working in the nonprofit sector for more than ten years now, it is nice to spend time on something that is just for me and less emotionally intense than my paying work. 

What tip(s) would you give someone just starting out in photography?

For someone who is just starting out with landscape photography, I would give the following tips:

  1. Spend a lot of time practicing photography, both in learning the technical craft of photography and in building your creativity.
  2.  Seek feedback over praise. I see the internet culture of mindless back-patting as being mostly detrimental to helping newer photographers develop their art and craft. The pull to produce work that is popular and receives praise leads to photography that all looks the same – same places, same time of year, same compositions, and the same processing. I personally think that resisting the pull of this culture can lead to more creative and interesting work, even if it receives less attention. (It is worth noting that I could follow my own advice on this point more consistently).
  3.  Read about the art and craft of photography.  Many excellent blogs, e-books, and traditional books are available about nature photography and I would advise new photographers to voraciously read and reflect on a wide variety of resources.  Some good places to start include the archive on the Nature Photographers Network website, Craft & Vision, e-books and blog posts by Guy Tal and Ian Plant, and books by Art Wolfe and Tim Fitzharris. 

Where is your favorite place to travel and to photograph?

I have all kinds of favorite places, but three are at the top: Iceland, Death Valley National Park, and the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.  Iceland is just an epic and wonderful place.  I have been in both spring/summer and in the winter and have a deep affection for the country and its landscape.   The diversity of the scenery is almost unbelievable, the soft and colorful light can last for what seems like forever, and the experience of seeing a place like the Jokulsarlon ice beach in winter or the aurora borealis is simply awe-inspiring.  Death Valley’s surreal landscape just keeps pulling me in.  Death Valley changes in character so much during the edges of the day and there are all kinds of interesting things to be found if you are willing to explore a little.  The San Juan Mountains are the place that I consider to be my home mountains.  I have spent a lot of time there and am always in awe of the beauty of that area – incredibly rugged peaks, lush wildflowers in the summer, and easy access to alpine environments.  Seeing the hillsides of fiery aspens and experiencing the smell of fall in those mountains is something that keeps pulling me in. 

Who is a photographer you have looked to for inspiration?

It is impossible to name just a single person because many photographers have inspired me at different points along the way.  My biggest initial inspiration was Marc Adamus.  When I first took up photography, I took one of his photo tours and it played a huge role in changing the way I viewed landscape photography.  After that experience, I started exploring more, made flexibility a much more important part of my travel, and I started being more aggressive in developing a portfolio. 

Now, I find bits and pieces of inspiration from a really wide range of landscape photographers rather than one or two individuals.  I’ll include a short list of a few of my favorite photographers just to give a sense of whose work and approach to photography I enjoy or admire: Guy Tal and Charles Cramer for their very thoughtful and meditative intimate landscape photographs and Guy for his thought-provoking writing; Floris van Breugel for his creative and always fresh approach; Alex Mody, who in his early twenties, has a really strong portfolio of work and shows an admirable commitment to developing his art; and Cole Thompson and Chuck Kimmerle for their somewhat minimalist and less traditional approach to black and white landscape photography.  This list leaves out so many people whose work I really admire.  I could easily name thirty or forty people in answering this question. 

I also get a great deal of inspiration and motivation from my partner, Ron Coscorrosa, who has been taking a sabbatical from work for the last few years to extensively travel and photograph.  My photography has dramatically improved since we started spending time together.  Ron has definitely helped me see things a bit differently and helped me remove some blinders, which has been so incredibly helpful. 

What made you decide to get into photography?

At the time I took up photography, I was working a very stressful consulting job and was also in graduate school – both full-time.  My Type-A personality finally caught up to me and I needed a creative, relaxing hobby.  I casually took up photography and then it quickly became consuming.  In turn, I started seeking more flexibility in my life so I could spend more time on photography and started with quitting my job.  I then started my own consulting practice, which allowed me to significantly scale back my work in 2012 and 2013 so I could travel extensively and spend some dedicated time building a photography portfolio.  While I do hope to make a small portion of my income from photography in the future, my motivation is a true love for this pursuit and all of the wonderful things it has brought my way.

Anything else?

Ron and I just published our first e-book, Forever Light: The Landscape Photographer’s Guide to Iceland.  When we planned our first trip to Iceland, we could not find any good, comprehensive resources on photography so we wrote the guide that we wish we had for that first trip. Learn more at www.naturephotoguides.com

Check out some of Sarah's work: 

Gura Gear Service Day July 2013

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Last month the Gura Gear team helped shovel and spread ground cover in the entry gardens at the Ogden Nature Center. We came to love the facility so much we decided to continue to go back and provide volunteer efforts. The Center is home to some beautiful birds of prey. When we heard that the bird enclosures were in need of some new door hinges and other various upgrades, we jumped on the opportunity. 

On Tuesday, July 23, we will be working on the bird enclosures from 10:30am - Noon. If you are in the area and want to come help, bring your power drills and closed toed shoes. If you just want to come have a good time getting to know the Gura Gear team and snap some unobstructed shots of the birds, that's great, too! We'll have our cameras our taking shots as well. To let us know you're interested, shoot us a Tweet, Facebook mention, or email (info@guragear.com)!

Currently the center houses a Red-tailed Hawk, a Peregrine Falcon, a Northern Goshawk, two Golden Eagles, a Bald Eagle, a Barn Owl and a Short-eared Owl.

Q & A With Nature Photographer Mark Bridger

We were thoroughly impressed with the photography done by Mark Bridger. We couldn't help but share his work with you. Check out his answers to our questions and enjoy his amazing work!


What type of photography do you prefer and why?

I love all nature from the smallest of bugs to the largest of beasts. As a kid I remember the hours I used to spend on the beach in Dorset England hunting for fossils or collecting all sorts of beetles and bugs in my back garden so when I decided about four years ago to buy my first camera, I was naturally drawn to nature photography. The first subject I photographed on my new, shiny Canon 40D was a group of fallow deer at a place called Knole Park in Sevenoaks UK. The pictures were no more than snap shots but this really sparked my interest in wildlife photography. Soon I found I needed to purchase a longer lens and a macro and then a flash etc. This led me to a website called Photography-on-the-net which is mainly a Canon shooters forum. On there I have learnt just about all I know about photography and also made some really great friends.

The other subject I love to take photos of is my son who will be 4 at the end of August. This is what led me to purchase a Canon 5Dmk2 and some fast glass and in a way got me ready for the next stage in my short photography life, weddings. I now shoot about a dozen a year which helps pay for the kit I use for the wildlife part.

What tip(s) would you give someone just starting out in photography?

Well, I think you take the best pictures of a subject you love. For me it's wildlife, which hopefully shows in my work. For a friend of mine, airplanes are what he loves and his shots are just awesome. It's also important to learn from other people. I have found and learnt so much from the forum I comment on. Just talking to others while you're out and about is good too. Most people will give you tips if they can.

 Where is your favorite place to travel and to photograph?

Quite often before work I go to Knole park in Sevenoaks England. I can get there for dawn spend a few hours walking around hopefully getting some nice pictures before sitting in an office all day. Another place I love is Norfolk, which is a bird spotters paradise. My shots of wild barn owls are from there. There is so much wildlife I could spend my life there quite easily.

Who is a photographer you have looked to for inspiration?

There are a lot of great photographers out there that I like. Danny Green, Andy Rouse, David LLoyd, Lee fisher, and the list goes on. I follow a lot of photographers on Facebook so I don't really have a favourite photographer as there are just too many to choose from.

What made you decide to get into photography?

I work in Pre-press for my day job so I work with thousands of images every week, editing them and making up designs. I have always wanted to have a camera but just never got around to buying one. So as my 40th birthday was approaching I told my wife that I wanted a camera and she bought me a Canon 40D with a 17-55 f2.8 IS lens. 

What is one of your favorite shots?

One of my favourite images is of a captive owl called Gandalf. He lives with his owners at Knowsley Safari Park in Liverpool who run a photography business from there. I went up to attend a workshop for frogs and reptiles last year and stayed the night in the large old farm house. When I came down in the morning for breakfast I saw out the corner of my eye something staring at me from across the courtyard. There was Gandalf the great grey owl sitting in a window watching me. I just had to take his picture; he looked like a little old man watching his neighbours from behind the curtain. I asked Janet, his owner, if I could take his photo and of course she said I could. She also told me that he lives in there because when they moved up to Knowsley, while making his aviary, they placed him in that red brick outbuilding as a temporary home but he loved it so much in there that the building become his aviary. The odd thing about Gandalf and the reason he loves his house is that he is a bit of a wuss and doesn't like flying in large open spaces. He is an agoraphobic great grey owl and so he feels very safe watching the birds and people from his window.

You can find more examples of Mark's photography at: www.bridgephotography.co.uk.

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