Adventure Photographer Interview with Chuck Graham
It’s that time of year—over the next several months I’ll be sharing sneak peeks at our 2015 Photographer’s Market and Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market articles and interviews. Below is an excerpt from managing photographer Ric Deliantoni’s Q&A with adventure photographer Chuck Graham. Graham captures the beauty of the wilderness surrounding his California home as well as other breathtaking natural locals. Read on to learn more about Graham’s photography, and get the complete photography interview in the 2015 Photographer’s Market (available in September 2014). You can also purchase the 2014 Photographer’s Market now and use your free ArtistsMarketOnline.com membership to read the complete interview when it becomes available.
Keep creating and good luck!
Chuck Graham: Capturing Nature’s Beauty
Photographing wild things in wild places. I’m fortunate to live in a very diverse region of California. I’ve lived on the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve for 35 years. I have the Channel Islands National Park right off the coast and the Los Padres National Forest just 10 minutes out my door. From where I live, it’s not far to the Eastern Sierra or the Mojave and Colorado Deserts.
Give us a brief synopsis of your history in photography.
I’m self-taught. After graduating from Westmont College with a BA in history, I began freelance writing and quickly determined I would be much more successful if I could deliver quality photographs as well. That way an editor has the entire package. From there, I’ve become the editor of DEEP Surf Magazine, where I make all the photo selects. I’ve been there for 7 years and still freelance for quite a few publications.
Do you have a formal arts education?
I don’t, but I do have an Honorary Masters degree from Brooks Institute of Photography.
How would you rate an education vs. a mentor program?
In my opinion, you probably can’t go wrong with either, but, if you can get one-on-one in a mentor program, that specific attention could really fast track a career in photography.
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Do you have a mentor or someone that has inspired you?
The late Tom Vezo was a source of inspiration for me. He gave me a lot of good advice, and I’ve stuck to it. Some of the best advice he gave me was simply to stay home, to take advantage of all the opportunities I have where I live. He was one of the best bird photographers in the world, and he was always approachable either in person or on the phone.
The Creative Process
The last of our wild places are what inspire me. Once I arrive at one of those places, it’s locating subjects that catch my eye.
Talk a bit about your creative process and how you approach your work.
I look for subjects that have received little or no coverage. For instance, getting images of endangered California condors after their early releases in the Los Padres National Forest, or circumnavigating the Channel Islands National Park in a kayak.
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Talk a bit about the path to the development of your style.
As I continue down my personal path with camera in hand, I’m leaning more and more towards the subject surrounded in breathtaking landscapes, whether it’s a standup paddler, kayaker, mountain climber or wildlife with a beautiful backdrop.
What are your specialties?
Certain wildlife, so for me that would include island foxes, California condors, desert bighorn sheep, etc. I also concentrate on ocean kayaking, standup paddling, backpacking, landscapes and travel.
Marketing your Work
How do you find work/clients?
There’s been a variety of ways. Photographer’s Market has proven to be a great source. Magazine stands, the internet, and word of mouth as well.
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Talk about your thoughts on marketing photography.
Studying markets is the best place to start. Photographers need to know what editors are after, so studying publications should be a priority. Then presenting a healthy batch of work for an editor’s review is important. Also requesting to be added to a publication’s callout is another step in the right direction.
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Do you belong to a Professional Association?
I have in the past. I’m not currently, but I’m considering joining one in the near future.
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Talk a bit about your experiences with competitions and if they have affected your career in any way good or bad.
In the past I’ve had some success in competitions. I think they can only help by getting your name out there and being recognized.
What are your thoughts on the digital age, and how has it affected you, your business, and the industry in whole?
Well, I still shoot film and I don’t believe it has hurt my business in any way. I haven’t had an editor tell me yet that they won’t look at a film capture. There are a lot more cameras out there because of it, which means more competition.
Do you shoot film in any of your work, either professional or personal?
For the most part, film is all I use. Occasionally I’ll use a digital body when I need images real fast for a job.
Talk a bit about your workflow, your process, and the tools you use.
Beyond the film itself, I don’t do any touching up or manipulate any of my images.
Give us a list of what’s in your camera bag.
My Clik Elite pack holds three Canon bodies, along with several Canon lenses, a 15mm, 20mm–35mm, 70mm–200mm, and a 300mm IS. I also have access to a 600mm with a tele-converter.
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Do you have any parting words of wisdom you would like to share about the future of the profession of photography?
I think the business of photography can become obsessive for some, a good sign for something we love to do. I consider myself fortunate for following my path and photographing my passions.
Ric Deliantoni is a professional photographer and director with thirty years of experience, with a focus on still-life and lifestyle imagery for advertising, design and publishing. He has developed a unique style that has been described as impressionistic and bold. Ric has also spent much of his career teaching and mentoring students of all levels to better themselves as artists.