Today's APN Professional Interview is being conducted with a photographer that some of you might know and have heard of, Richard Bernabe! I really want to thank Richard for taking the time of of his busy schedule to join us here on deviantART and make himself readily available to all of you, to answer questions and to talk about Nature Photography. I was very happy when he decided to accept the invitation for the interview, a his images I have always found very inspiring. Also I wish to thank ~TRBPhotographyLLC with his help with this.
So without any delay, at this time, please welcome Richard Bernabe
Please feel free to ask Richard any questions you might have, comment on his images and fav them, watch him, and check out his website at Richard Bernabe Photography richardbernabe.com [link]
You can read the other APN Professional Interview Series News Articles here:
"APN Interview w/Guy Tal, pro Nature Photographer" here [link]
"APN Interview w/Judd Patterson, pro Nature Photographer" here [link]
"APN Interview w/Joshua Hardin, pro Nature Photographer" here [link]
"APN Interview w/Greg Schneider, pro Nature Photographer" here [link]
kkart: First off Richard, I want to thank you very much for your willingness to do this interview with me and the community of deviantART along with joining the site here. As the gallery moderator here for nature photography with Photography>Animals, Plants & Nature, it is my duty to bring in some of the very best from the realm of the nature photography world and make them more accessible for up and coming photographers. I know you are a very busy working professional shooter, and I really appreciate you doing this! So, without any delay, I would like to dive right on in with the interview.
RB: Thanks for the opportunity, John.
kkart: Richard, can you tell us all how you got your start in nature photography and how it all came to be? Do you remember the first time you picked up the camera and decided to pursue it as a career?
RB: Photography was simply a natural extension of my interests and activities, which all revolved around nature and the outdoors. Whether it was a backpacking or fly-fishing trip, I brought a camera along to document things, as most people do. Over time, photography became more and more interesting to me and I began to direct a great deal of time and energy to it.
Making a career out of it was something that just sort of happened after the convergence of several different events in my life - as well as some lucky breaks. I completed the full-time transition in 2003, but I never held this long-term dream of becoming a professional outdoor photographer. I was in the corporate world, bored and burned out, and I said to myself. "What about this photography thing?" If it ultimately didn't work out, I was still relatively young and could do any number of things if I wanted. Six years later, things have worked out very well. I am extremely fortunate.
kkart: So, what is in your camera bag? What gear can't you live without and what do you consider as your old stand by? Anything unusual? What gear do you find you use the most?
RB: I am not overly preoccupied with camera gear. Yeah, I went through the "gear head" phase at one time, but I quickly got over it. People are always surprised by how little camera gear I actually own and use. I currently carry the Canon 5D Mark2 camera body plus Canon's 17-40mm, 24-105mm, and 70-200mm lenses. That's about it. Sometimes I take the Canon 100-400mm lens or a flash unit on a trip, but it just depends on the situation.
I started out with Nikon 35mm film cameras, dabbled with 4x5 large format gear, and now exclusively shoot with Canon digital camera and lenses.
kkart: What do you aspire for your photography? If your images have a message, what is it you would say they communicate?
RB: I want them to communicate my inner, personal feelings at the time of the capture. If a scene before my camera makes me feel joy, mystery, peace, power, or whatever I want the image to project that. Sometimes it's successful and they accurately communicate it and other times they speak of something entirely different than what I intended. That's art, though.
kkart: What personally drives you as a photographer and makes you say to yourself "I must have that shot", what makes you click the shutter?
RB: I always try to understand why I am attracted to a certain scene or subject. If I simply begin clicking the shutter anytime something strikes my fancy, I will usually be disappointed later on with the results. If I can understand the "why," it helps me determine the "how" how I want to compose, frame, expose, etc. Pretty pictures are fun, but creating meaningful images are much more satisfying to me.
kkart: You run several photography workshops every year (a complete list can be found here on his website [link] ) How did you get started doing photography workshops and do you find them rewarding? What are some of your most memorable experiences from them?
RB: I like teaching, and it's now become an important aspect of what I do. Sometimes classes and workshops get in the way of my personal projects and trips and they can seem like a real pain in the neck. But I tried giving them up once and I quickly realized how much I enjoyed them and needed them, personally. I think it's the interaction of ideas and being around other naturally enthusiastic people. Since then, I've realized that some sort of teaching whether it was formal classroom sessions or hands-on photo workshops would always be an integral part of my photography career.
kkart: What advice can you give/share with aspiring nature photographers on deviantART who want to shoot nature as their main subject? Can you share some of your tricks with getting shots with us?
RB: Ask yourself, "Why nature?" If it's for the wrong reasons (it's cool, trendy, or it's part of some marketing strategy) you probably won't be very successful, but that's just my opinion. If it's because you have a deep-seated love affair with the natural world and wild places, then let your feelings and passions be your guide as to what you photograph. Your most successful images will be manifestations of your life's loves and passions. I am convinced of that.
kkart: Richard, you have over 7,000 publishing credits and some very big names amongst those. What are some of your most memorable and best experiences with being published and how did you get your start with getting your images published?
RB: Your first published image is always the most memorable. My break came in 1997 when an acquaintance of mine, who had casually seen some of my work, wrote an article for a pretty big national magazine. The magazine bought his piece but neither the magazine nor he had any images to accompany it. Fearing the editor might kill it, he contacted me and asked if I had anything that could help. I was lucky. The magazine ended up buying the rights to six images of mine for the article and the next month, they bought four more.
kkart: How would someone who wishes to get their images published in magazines start? What advice can you share with them?
RB: Learn to write. If you can offer a quality text/image package that is relevant to a magazine's content, you eliminate some extra work for the editor. Magazine editors will love you if you can learn save them time, which is something they never seem to have enough of.
One other thing: Expect rejection often and learn to accept it gracefully.
kkart: You are currently the Editor In Chief for NaturePhotographers.net [link] is that like with being one of the heads of one of the greatest nature photography websites? Would you suggest that nature photographers from here on deviantART join? And how would it benefit them if they do? How did you get your start with them?
RB: Well, I am hardly the head of anything. Jim Erhardt is the founder and owner of NPN and he is responsible for making the site run as smoothly as it does. I work in the shadowy background editing articles, helping out where I can, trying not to mess anything up too badly.
For any photographer who has an interest in nature or wildlife photography, NPN (www.naturephotographers.net) is a tremendous resource. It's one of the few places on the Internet where one can receive honest, constructive criticism of images from top-notch talent and pros in a respectable, well-organized format. I highly recommend joining and participating.
How did I get started with them? I just signed up one day and started participating. Years later, I've made dozens of good friends and I seem to learn something new every time I log on.
kkart: What books have you all written and how would one order them? How did you come to writing books on nature photography and how hard was it to do?
RB: Writing does not come easily to me, but it's something I work hard at every day. My first book, South Carolina Wonder and Light, published by Mountain Trail Press in 2006, didn't have much writing in it. It was strictly a photography book.
I just finished helping write and edit The Ultimate Guide to Digital Nature Photography with several other members of the Mountain Trail Photo Team; Ian Plant, Jerry Greer, Marc Adamus, Guy Tal, Jim Clark, George Stocking, Joe Rossbach, Bill Lea, and Nye Simmons. It's an A-to -Z instructional book for digital nature photographers. There is ordering information on www.mountaintrailphoto.com. (There is also a direct link to Amazon where it can be pre-ordered, [link] )
kkart: You are part of the Mountain Trail Photo website [link] how has that been going and can you tell us about it and how it got it start?
Mountain Trail Photo is a creation of Mountain Trail Press, a publisher of nature photography books. The site features photography, instructional articles, and books from the group of photographers I mentioned earlier. There are also several dozen digital nature photography workshops offered by many of the Mountain Trail Team members and a regularly updated blog as well. This is another excellent online resource for those interested in nature and wildlife photography.
kkart: In September 2007, you went on and completed a month-long, 270-mile trip solo expedition across South Carolina in an open canoe. ( notes on his journey are on his website [link] ) What was that like and why did you do it?
RB: It began as a simple, childlike quest for adventure, without having to travel too far from home. Remember when you were a kid and you came up with these crazy ideas while sitting around with your friends? Well, it was sort of like that, except now I am an adult and I can live out many of those crazy ideas, to the dismay of my family.
There is no easy answer as to why I did it. For a while, my stock answer was, "If you have to ask why, you probably won't understand the answer anyway." Then I realized how rude that sounded, so I quit using that answer, although I still believe it to be somewhat true.
kkart: Do you actively market your website richardbernabe.com ([link] and if so, how have you gone about doing it? Have you gotten a lot of feedback about it, and or sales from it? Do you feel it is important for a photographer to have their own website?
RB: The website is a very important marketing tool since I started it ten years ago. I do all the site design and maintenance myself, so it's an amateurish production. Still, it receives hundreds of hits each day and I get some sort of feedback on a daily basis.
kkart: Who are your biggest influences and how have they had an impact on you and your photography?
RB: Well, first I would have to say my father. He introduced me to nature as a young boy and the things he taught me have always remained with me, even if it didn't have anything to do with photography.
As far as photographers, there have been far too many to mention. Almost every photographer I have had any meaningful contact with in person or through his or her images - has influenced me in some form or fashion. Galen Rowell's images and his writing influenced me greatly in the early- to mid-90's when I was trying to learn as much as possible on my own.
kkart: If you could travel anywhere in the world to shoot where it would be and why? Where have you all traveled to shoot? Can you share some of your most memorable and joyful shooting experiences with us?
RB: I used to travel a great deal more than I do now, but I have found a lot of enjoyment photographing familiar, well-loved places close to home. Coastal South Carolina, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains are all favorite places right here in my back yard.
Years ago, I traveled to Montana regularly and fell in love with some of the more remote areas of the Beartooth and Absaroka mountain ranges For some reason, those mountains are under-photographed and under-represented in western mountain photography portfolios and I've never understood why.
Right now I am eyeing a possible trip to Chile, Argentina, or maybe a return trip to Costa Rica. I've been practicing my Spanish the past few months!
kkart: In closing, is there anything else you would like to add or say?
RB: Again, John, thank you for the opportunity and the invitation to deviantART. In the short time I've been on here, the experience and the people have been great. I'm looking forward to participating and getting to know everyone better.