INTERVIEW with the pros

Simon Morris is professional shooter with a strong passion for travel and adventure photography The Big Apple, converging verticals and China I first began taking pictures around 11 years ago and it was during a trip to New York that really sparked my interest in photography in general. During that trip with a little point and shoot camera, I endeavoured to shoot everything and anything that moved and was pleasantly surprised by the results that I obtained when I had the film developed. Following that, my father who also loves photography and taking pictures, gave me his old Nikon FE film camera with a wide-angle lens and I started to take mostly landscape type images and managed all the silly mistakes possible that a beginner makes when using a wide-angle lens, especially taking shots of buildings whilst severely tilting the camera! The digital era quickly followed and I purchased a digital Fuji SLR camera and was really amazed at just how good the pictures looked. The images with my Fuji were both punchy and saturated in landscape mode settings and creamy and natural looking in the portraiture mode. It was taking pictures with my Fuji SLR in China, perched on the Li River, that really got me hooked on travel photography because it served a dual purpose, meeting both my passion for travelling and photography. Indeed, what is refreshing about taking pictures in foreign ands is that mostly nobody actually cares if you brandish a camera or attempt to take their picture. Overall, the view of photographers is both positive and accepting. After the China trip, where I took some strong shots of Cormorant fishermen and general Chinese street life, I began to get quite successful in getting my worked published, both in books and in magazines. Also, as time went by, I started to win travel photography competitions and my work was commended in 2011 in the greatest of all travel competitions-the Travel Photographer of the Year Competition. Since travelling to New York over 11 years ago I have been fortunate to have visited many more countries taking pictures, including Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, and India (which is the best location in the world for street photography). Meaning of photography-art or skill For me, taking travel images is about capturing certain moments in time that people viewing can relate to and, I hope, to ultimately move them on some level. I want to the viewer to be transported to another time or bygone age. That s why, on my travels, I tend to visit less trodden paths, not tourist traps, but places that have seemingly been left untouched by time. For instance, some of my Indian images were taken in remote villages in Rajasthan and my Myanmar monk images were also taken away from major towns or cities. Though I believe finding such locations that are still in a kind of  time warp  is becoming increasingly more difficult. Photography for me, as my wise dad rightly stated, is an  art  for those that have the vision and creativity to make it so. I believe photography is making the ordinary look extraordinary, or finding beauty in the most obvious kind of places. Indeed, some of my bike images from India have been published a number of times and, to some, show aesthetic beauty and merits. But, to others, it may be just an old bike in India, which they would have walked past without a second glance. Which are you? Therefore photography is about the  seeing  and a word that is used a lot in photography- previsualization , or recognising the potential in a scene given the right time and conditions. For example, before I went to China I had an idea about a little old Cormorant fisherman smoking a pipe on the Li River one early morning. To keep this dream alive I purchased the biggest  Churchwarden s  smoking pipe I could lay my hands on and took it with me and used it as a prop in my image  Yearning of the River . Photography is also a skill and about the basic obvious stuff as well, such as not attempting to take a picture in low light with a large telephoto handheld at f22! Style-little worlds/low light My work is influenced a lot by music, books, art and films. Indeed, I attempt to create little worlds in my images that the viewer finds attractive and it strikes a chord. I tend to work in low light in the early mornings or in the evening time as the light fades, when it s less harsh. The camera can handle contrast much better at these times. Some of my images I stumble across as I wander and amble around looking for opportunities and potential images. At other times, I will return to a location, for example in Myanmar I would take a monk from a monastery to a picturesque temple location at the end of the day in gentle golden light to snap away. Sometimes there s also a thing called luck, when everything falls into place. I m also a big fan of the humble 50mm lens. My Nikon f1.4 is so sharp and is ideal for taking low light images where you re fighting for available speed. Also, I tend to steer away from telephoto lenses, I prefer get in close and have interaction with my subjects, rather than standing from afar with a big telephoto lens rocket launcher-type thing. My images are always taken in RAW and I am still amazed at the amount of information you can squeeze and glean from these files. My images are then post-processed in Light Room and Photoshop CS2.1 also use Nik Silver Efex for my mono work. Current and future-wooden houses and faded grandeur I ve recently returned from a trip to Myanmar (Burma), where I spent a number of weeks travelling around the country. Most of the images were taken in the region of Bagan, an area covering about 25 square miles, with literally hundreds of small temples and spires dotting the plains. I spent many hours in this plain region visiting the lovely old wooden monasteries and taking pictures of monks in their crimson robes. I m returning to Cuba in June of this year too, and am especially looking forward to roaming around Havana and taking pictures of the gorgeous colourful crumbling colonial buildings and the chilled out Cuban people. My plans for the future are to expand my travel portfolio with strong travel images and to be ultimately crowned Travel Photographer of the Year! That has a certain ring to it... My work can be seen on the excellent online photography site Ephotozine. My user name is BURNBLUE.

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