Dewitt Jones - It's about the light coming out of your eyes!

The first place you ought to publish your pictures is in your life—the light that’s coming out of your eyes, how you treat your family. It ought to make a difference!

In the beginning

My first camera was an Argus C3 that my Dad had during WWII. People told me that I had a good eye, but it really wasn’t until after college that I got really into photography. I started out as a filmmaker. I had a Masters in film from UCLA.

I was in Yosemite doing a film on John Muir, and I saw a guy walking in front of the Visitor’s Center. He turned out to be a Geographic writer. I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I’m doing an article on Muir.” I made a phone call, and even though I’d never published any pictures anywhere, they gave me the assignment. So, my first published pictures were in National Geographic, which was totally nuts!

Thank you

If I look at when I am happy, I am happiest when I am full of gratitude. Photography makes me stop, not only to big vistas, but to a leaf on the trail or a dew drop on a flower.

All of these pictures are little visual prayers. I think it’s important that we articulate that out loud. So, I wander around my garden in the morning saying "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you." That’s exposing my soul; that’s feeding me at a very deep level.

Affect on life

I published an ebook recently called, Art in My Life. I was getting at the idea that art and photography are a way of seeing; they are a way of looking at the world. The photograph is the residue of that; it’s what’s left over. It’s really good residue, and I like it. But if I don’t have the experience, if I don’t go out and connect with something, if I don’t see more deeply, then what was the point?

iPhone

My iPhone is with me all the time. It’s there as a little way to just stay more ALIVE.

I shoot all the time with it. I shoot things that I never would shoot with my big-boy cameras, because it would be too much of a hassle. All the tiny things of life, I shoot with my iPhone. Those images are now always with me, reminding me of what a cool thing it is to get to be conscious on this planet.

Advice

Follow the passion, because that not only is what’s going to give you your eye, but it’s also going to expose your soul, and that’s the whole point anyway.

What do you think of Dewitt's perspective? Please leave us a comment below.

Then, explore more of Dewitt's world at DewittJones.com and CelebrateWhatsRight.com

Watch the complete interview with Dewitt in the video at the top.

Alastair Humphreys - A Normal Person

I am a pretty normal person, really. I’m not a really strong person, I’m not very brave, and I realized that a lot of people thought of me as this adventurer.

Major adventures

I cycled around the world; it took me four years to do—46,000 miles through 60 countries. I’ve walked across India from coast to coast. I’ve rowed the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve been up in the Arctic in Greenland up near the magnetic North Pole on the Arctic Ocean. I’ve canoed across Iceland. Most recently, I just walked 1,000 miles across the Empty Quarter desert in the Arabian Peninsula. I do that sort of stuff.

More recently I’ve been doing little adventures around the UK. I call them microadventures. That’s the direction my adventures have been going the last couple of years—trying to encourage normal people to do something slightly different.

Adventure has been so important to me in my life, so I wanted to try and find a way to show that normal people—like, everyone—can also have adventures. The best way to have an adventure is by starting small. Start with something that’s within your skill level, your time level, your fitness level, your equipment level. If you want to be a good photographer, don’t worry about having a Canon Pro DSLR, go out and buy a $50 camera on ebay and just start taking photos. It’s that sort of principle.

5-to-9 thinking

The 9-to-5 defines people a lot. But it also limits people. People with real jobs can’t have adventure, because of their 9-to-5, 9-to-5, 9-to-5. That is a constraint; it’s a limitation in your life. But, if you flip it around in your head, instead of seeing a constraint, you try to see an opportunity. When you leave work at 5pm, you’ve then got freedom until 9 o’clock the next morning. So, instead of going home and watching rubbish TV, get out of town, go sleep a hill, cook on top of a fire, have a swim in the river in the morning, and get back to work by 9am. You can have adventures even in a small space of time such as that.

Advice on adventure and photography

  • The times when you don’t really want to get your camera out—when the sand is blowing and the rain is falling—that’s the time when you’ve got to get your camera out, and take the pain.
  • Most of the trips that I’ve done tend to involve having to get my camera serviced afterwards. Taking it down rivers, rowing the Atlantic Ocean—saltwater—these are terrible things for a camera.
  • Any idiot can be an adventurer, but being a photographer is more difficult. So, I think it makes sense to find a photographer and take him on an adventure rather than finding an adventurer and trying to teach him photography.ost of the trips that I’ve done tend to involve having to get my camera serviced afterwards. Taking it down rivers, rowing the Atlantic Ocean—saltwater—these are terrible things for a camera.

365

  • I think the best thing that I’ve done for my photography is when I decided to take a photograph every single day for a whole year. I put it up on Flickr, and that forced me to have a camera with me every day of the year. That taught me more than anything.
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What do you think? Please leave us a comment below. Experience more of Alastair's perspective on his website www.AlastairHumphreys.com, buy his book #Microadventures, then go sleep a hill!

Watch the complete interview with Alastair in the video at the top.

Joe and Mary Ann McDonald - And I Fell in Love with the Instructor

J – I’ll start first, because I started first.

M – He’s older. Haha

J – I started when I was in about eighth grade. By the time I was a junior in high school, luckily enough, National Wildlife Federation had a film library that they were going through at that time. That kind of supplemented my high school and early college photography career, because I was able to sell through them.

M – In second grade I got a Brownie Instamatic camera with a flash where you actually had to lick the flash bulbs before you put them onto the camera.

J – She still licks the back of hot-shoe flashes.

M – Yeah, I can’t break the old habit. Haha

Romance

J – I’ll try to tell the story without getting too emotional.

M – Haha

J – I was teaching photo workshops. Mary met me at a lecture that I was giving at a bird club, and she decided to take the course that winter in the Everglades and…

M – And basically, I fell in love with the instructor. I had to convince him that I was necessary for his business. And the rest is history. He opened me up to the world of photography, and it was like this creative bloom went off inside of me.

Affect on your lives

J – In a way, [photography] almost defines my existence. It’s almost like a religious experience. In taking the photographs, it’s like celebrating nature. I really think that is my operating premise.

M – If we don’t take an image that’s okay, because we have this whole library of images which we call neurochromes up in our brain of things that we’ve seen throughout the years. When we’re out there it reinvigorates us; it just fills us back up. You become one with it. And then to be able to document that to use it for educational purposes for kids or for adults. To share it with the rest of the world, and to try to save it in that aspect, it’s pretty special.

On seeing

J – I drew pictures before I ever took a photograph. Although, I dabbled with drawing ever since then. You know, just as kind of like a fun thing...

M – He does great acrylic painting, and we have stuff in our house from him, so don’t let him kid you.

J – But the point is that even looking at the world like a painter or an artist you see things that you absolutely don’t otherwise see. To give you an example, I’ve often been tempted to make just an outline of a zebra and take it on my safaris, and put it down at the table where we all have lunch and say, 'Okay, fill in the stripes on the zebra.' And I’m sure most people would have no idea which way the patterns would go. Because we look at things, we classify them, and then we dismiss them.

Backyard habitat - Hoot Hollow

J – I wanted to be able to step out the door, and not have to worry about paying for a gallon of gas, but be able to take photographs literally just outside the doorstep.

M – It’s our little piece of heaven here. We can walk right out the back door and photograph. We dug vernal ponds for the wood frogs to mate and everything and to have tons of tadpoles. Our birds and our animals eat better than we do. I'm going through probably 200 pounds a week of bird seed right now even. We've just been experiencing our first fox squirrel and a red squirrel. It's really cool to be able to get out there and say, 'Wow, we helped bring them here, because we developed this for them.' It’s fun to be able to give back so much by creating this habitat.

ALIVE

M – It happened at the end of November, one day before my birthday. We were in Rwanda on our 75th gorilla trek. As they started to go back up into the woods into the national park, another group, called the hero group came. And Ghunda, who is the head Silverback of Sabina was running past us. You know when something is going to happen, because he puffs his lips up like this. Pfff. And then what he was doing was something we had never seen before...

J – This is good.

M – The two main Silverback started going… (see video) It was just wild! The photography just added to being able to capture it and share it.

J – I had a camera laying down on the ground at the time, and a Silverback ran by like a freight train. His foot just missed the camera; he was that close. Had he moved, even another two feet over, his shoulder would have hit any of us, and just flipped us over the ledge. Because were were right on the edge of a…

M – terraced field.

J – But I mean, to really have the hairs of the gorilla brush your face as he ran by…

M – it was cool.

Favorite image

J – BBC and Nature’s Best both had it as the second place winner that year. So, it was a striking shot…

M – What he forgot to mention was that it was seven male lions. So, we’re talking about seven big male lions on this kill.

J – And as my story continues. Haha. It was like if you’re climbing and you get scared. My leg was just rubber. You know, it was just shaking! And I was aware of that shaking and thinking, 'This is really cool, because I am so juiced up that my body is responding to this.'

Please leave us a comment below. Experience more of Joe and Mary Ann on their website at Hoot Hollow.

Colby Brown - It's the Human Element that Makes Us Whole

My introduction into the industry was actually through my interest of travel, not necessarily photography itself. I tried to do a standard 9-5 job for just a few months, and just couldn’t do it. I asked myself, ‘Okay, what do I want to do?' My answer was, I wanted to travel. At the time it was a very naive notion. But I was like, ‘Well, why don’t I just become a photographer? Why not? How hard can it be?’

Three or four days later, I bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok. On the flight over, the woman sitting next to me was a rock climber from Jackson Hole, WY. She was actually going to get married. Long story short, her friend was a photographer who had to back out at the last second. And so my first paying gig ever was shooting a traditional Buddhist wedding in the middle of a rural village in Southern Thailand.

[Photography] forces you to look at the world differently. That’s kind of what drew me to travel in the first place. That contrasting sense of life, and how different people see things differently and how people live their lives differently culturally. I found myself wanting to experience more of the world not through a viewfinder. It’s an interesting statement to make as a photographer.

Affect on family

[Photography] helps me take away those things we take for granted. I have a two and a half year old son. He’s right at that amazing age where everything is new. One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Marcel Proust, and that’s 'The true voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.'

Favorite places

One of my favorite countries in the world is definitely Nepal. They have amazing festivals, and they’re just so kind. My heart is definitely in the mountains so being the Himalayas as a backdrop is kind of icing on the cake.

Iceland, as far as landscape specifically, is definitely a hotspot for me—such varied terrain, beautiful pastel light, just a very active location. I love the challenge of the unpredictability of places like Iceland and Patagonia. With the weather—as you know—just always keeping you on your toes.

It’s a very humbling reality to think about what I’ve been fortunate to do, and at the same time to think of how much more is out there, and how much more we can learn from other people and see more cultures and more landscapes and mountains and sunrises… the world out there is awesome.

The Giving Lens

Travel was always very superficial. You never really got the chance to get to know a country, or to know it’s issues or to know its people. You’re kind of just skimming through, maybe you have a week off work or what-not. That just never sat well with me.

With The Giving Lens, we take teams of photographers of varied skill sets to mostly developing countries to partner with an NGO that has chosen to fight for a specific cause—whether that’s child education like we do in Nicaragua and Peru, whether it’s women’s rights like we do in Jordan, species preservation like we’re doing in Africa, and I’d be lying if I said this probably wasn’t the most meaningful and passionate piece of my photo career, in general.

Finding meaningful ways for photographers to give back is so powerful. It makes such a difference. I mean, people that have been on some of our TGL trips have become board members of the NGO’s we partner with. Definitely try to do it organically. By that I mean, don’t  sit there and go to an organization and say, ‘This is what I can do.’ My recommendation would be, ‘How can I help?’

ALIVE

We’re listening to their story of the challenges they face, as we’re sitting inside their small little hut in the middle of Tanzania. One of our participants asked, ‘Are the children affected? Do they have HIV?’

And for the wife to answer and say, ‘No’ and to have such a great smile that even though they have HIV, they came together as a family and these kids don’t have HIV. It was very moving. I don’t think anyone left that room not crying.

Beyond solitude

It was the solitude that drew me to nature and landscape. I love being in the middle of the night in front of Mt Fitz Roy in Argentina. No one is around, and you’re just having this really intimate experience with nature. I think that’s very cathartic for me; it’s very important for who I am. But at the same time, a lot of what I was doing in those initial years was chasing after moments like that.

I love nature. I love solitude. But it’s the human element that connects us; it’s the human element that makes us whole.

Photographing people is not easy. A lot of people don’t like it, it makes them feel uncomfortable, I totally understand and respect that. But for me to see so many travel photographers out there label themselves as travel photographers—and even if they have exceptional work, like landing covers on Nat Geo—and to go through their portfolio and see a complete lack of a human element kind of, it bugs me in a way.

Motivation

I went to Tacloban just a few days after the typhoon. I was able to move some things around and just head there. People that have nothing, that lost so much, or everything—lost family members—to be willing to help their neighbors who are still struggling. That, to me, is motivational beyond anything else that I could ever experience.

Experience more at ColbyBrownPhotography and TheGivingLens.