Last Sunday, I went to the Wild day of the Travel Photographer of The Year photography festival being held at the National Geographic Society in London. The Wild day was the second day of the festival focusing on photographing in remote places all around the world. There were a number of different photographers talking throughout the day that you could choose to go and listen to. First up was Martin Hartley (see previous post), next was David Norton.
Being There: Right Place, Right Time – David Norton
During the photography festival, David did two separate talks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The first presentation started off and although it was being presented very well it wasn’t really striking home for me. David started off talking about how when he’s travelling he’s looking for quality over quantity and said that he now takes the approach of travelling less and seeing more. David was giving a number of examples where he has been to a location and has known there is potential or has been able to see potential but the conditions just weren’t right. He said the most extreme he has ever been was on a trip to the south provinces of China where he returned to one location for 10 different days trying to capture the image he wanted.
The message I was getting from David was to not give up. He said that a good location rewards persistence and time, there is no such thing as a lucky shot and you’ve got to make great pictures happen. So, although I started off thinking well that’s great, if you have the time to approach photography in that way then great but not everyone has time to take that approach. However, David was making so much sense and did seem to understand that you may not always have the time to take this approach that I soon got over my own negative attitude and just got on with enjoying a really very interesting presentation.
During the talk, David was giving small tips for photographers to keep in mind when shooting different images. He said that he scans images from corner to corner in the view finder before taking the shot to see if there is anything not needed. This was interesting because I had read somewhere in the days before that photography is the art of exclusion, the complete opposite of painting where the art is all about inclusion. David said that he believed the letter box format mimics the natural way we see landscapes and he often used panoramic stitching to produce these images, which on the big screen looked phenomenal. Another small tip was that polarisers help with photographing rainbows.
As well as landscapes, David talked through a number of his portraiture shots, often taken when he was waiting for that moment to take a landscape. He believed that you should nearly always ask before photographing someone you didn’t know and he would always respect peoples decision if they said no. The tip though was not to just walk straight up to people you want to photograph. Spend some time in the area so that you start to blend in and give people more of a chance to be comfortable with you being there. Then, when you have chosen a subject, before you approach them, consider what you want to do when you make the approach. Where is the light coming from, what do you want to achieve etc.
Davids two talks impressed me so much that I decided to purchase his book Waiting for the Light.