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The Journey – Photography, Passion & The Road We Travel

Just the other day I was interviewed by a local photography student who asked me a question that really made me stop and think… “What are you most excited about for the future regarding your photography career”?

To be honest, this was something that I had really never stopped and thought in depth about. Obviously we all have goals and specific plans, but most of us, including myself, don’t always take the time to reflect on our craft and the journey we’ve created through pursuing a passion.

Common answers that some might expect would be things like securing large clients, getting published in multiple outlets, having booming print sales or gaining expansive recognition. From a certain standpoint,  these “victories” are important, especially for a business, because they usually stand for “making money”, and the truth is, making money is a pretty important part of running a business. From a personal approach, they can mean “acceptance” or “recognition”, which simply makes us feel good. That being said, I know from experience, and I’m sure others will agree, that all of the excitement and energy brought upon from these situations only lasts for a brief period of time before we move on to the next goal.

After thinking about the question, what truly stood out to me as the most appropriate answer was the “journey”. I enjoy all aspects of creating images, be it exploring, composing, learning, teaching or sharing. But really, the journey includes far more than just the most obvious aspects. In my opinion, the journey also includes everything non-photography related that this craft has taught me, such as self-discovery, passion, persistence, risk, reward, adventure and happiness. 

It’s not really worth stopping to think about where I would be in life without landscape photography, because really, that’s a question that I could never answer. But I do put a lot of weight behind both becoming and remaining mindful of all of the positive influences it has had in my life. Landscape photography has taught me to truly appreciate the simple things, has helped me through tough times and has pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone in many different ways. It has allowed me to explore amazing places and experience beautiful moments,  and it created a path for me to follow that otherwise I may never have found.

 

The Ebb & The Flow - Muskoka, Ontario

  The Ebb & The Flow – Muskoka, Ontario

I truly believe that this applies to not just photography, but any passionate endeavor that we dedicate a large portion of our life towards. Really, the other elements that aren’t directly related to our passions  are the ones that last a lifetime. Self-discovery, personal development, and the moments experienced are things that never grow old, are never brief, and end up strengthening the foundation that we are constantly creating. When something has a direct impact on your values and outlook, it becomes more than just a tick on the map or a brief moment of happiness. It shapes you and leaves buried deep inside you a feeling that will always be there.

In the end, it’s important to keep your journey true to yourself. Everyone will move at different paces, pick different routes and experience different challenges. If the path we take shapes us both as artists and humans than it’s necessary to follow our own way and never try to re-create another, because as we all know, it’s not so much the destination that matters, but the journey itself.

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Kyle McDougallKyle McDougall is a landscape photographer/workshop leader based out of Ontario, Canada.  He specializes in creating fine art images that touch on both a visual and emotional level.  When not outside exploring the land you can find Kyle online sharing his images and helping others through his instructional articles.  In 2012 Kyle was chosen by Photolife Magazine as one of Canada’s Emerging Photographers.  To view more of his work please visit his website: www.kylemcdougallphoto.com

 

 

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Motivation By Connection

Anyone who follows my blog will know I often talk about the importance of individuality, creative vision and uniqueness when it comes to photography. I always find it fascinating to hear from other photographers about their discoveries regarding both self and practice as they advance throughout their career. Being able to form a connection with others regarding similar thoughts and experiences motivates me by reminding me that I’m not alone in my struggles and that this does in fact not come easy to anyone.

It’s funny that we have to remind ourselves constantly about things like that. It’s pretty simple to understand, yet it’s all to easy for us to assume that others produce their best work straight away. To be honest, this is a large part of what motivates me to write this blog; Being able to share experiences, struggles, discoveries and change with the hope that others can both relate and be motivated in their endeavours.

 

Shoreline Details - Killarney, Ontario

 

I came across this Ansel Adams interview done by the BBC the other day and wanted to share it here on the blog. Among many things throughout the interview, I found it very interesting when Adams talks about and shows examples of his prints including multiple variations of the same one created over a number of years. Adams talks about how his feelings change throughout time which contributes heavily to different choices made when printing. He refers to his famous line “The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways”.

I’m sure that we all can relate to these thoughts in a sense that images never seem to be complete. I know that at any point, I can look back at older work and find specific details that I now would approach differently. It’s embracing these moments with the realization of our progress that is the important thing; not stopping to get frustrated with ourselves for the so-called “mistakes” we made. It’s exciting to think about what lies ahead in this journey, and how our values, vision, likes and dislikes will change over time. Photography teaches us not only to see the world around us more clearly but also ourselves.

Click here to watch a video of Ansel Adams.  There are countless other great interviews with Adams to be found on YouTube.  Being able to hear the thoughts and opinions from one of the masters is extremely interesting and exciting. 

 

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 MEET THE AUTHOR

Kyle McDougallKyle McDougall is a landscape photographer/workshop leader based out of Ontario, Canada.  He specializes in creating fine art images that touch on both a visual and emotional level.  When not outside exploring the land you can find Kyle online sharing his images and helping others through his instructional articles.  In 2012 Kyle was chosen by Photolife Magazine as one of Canada’s Emerging Photographers.  To view more of his work please visit his website: www.kylemcdougallphoto.com

 

 

 

 

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Sources Of Inspiration

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For the second instalment of “Sources Of Inspiration” I’m excited to feature Greg Russell and share with you his beautiful images and thought provoking writing. Greg is a landscape photographer based out of California who specializes in images of the American West. I first met Greg online a couple of years ago and was immediately drawn to his images. Soon after, I was introduced to his blog and found another side of his work that was equally as impressive. 

In a day where the majority of photography related articles are technical related, Greg chooses to focus mainly on the why over the how. His words showcase a strong connection with the land and always leave me thinking deeply about my own work and how I interpret the environment around me. His philosophical style of writing touches on not only image making, but also creativity, life and the personal decisions that are so important in creating unique works of art. Greg does a brilliant job delivering his message and his words always leave me with a strong sense of place.  His images are extremely well crafted and display a contemplative thought process that ultimately defines his personal style. I know that whenever I see one of Greg’s new images that it has been created through a love, appreciation and understanding of his subject. His intimate compositions of the world are refreshing on the eyes and provide a truly unique experience for the viewer.

As artists, we all go through high points and low points. I know that the times I’m lacking inspiration I can turn to work such as Greg’s to remind myself about how beautiful the simple things in life are. I certainly recommend visiting Greg’s website and blog to view more of his images and writing. I’ve included links to a few select posts below to get you started. While you’re there, make sure to subscribe to his blog, you will be glad that you did!

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 MEET THE AUTHOR

Kyle McDougallKyle McDougall is a landscape photographer/workshop leader based out of Ontario, Canada.  He specializes in creating fine art images that touch on both a visual and emotional level.  When not outside exploring the land you can find Kyle online sharing his images and helping others through his instructional articles.  In 2012 Kyle was chosen by Photolife Magazine as one of Canada’s Emerging Photographers.  To view more of his work please visit his website: www.kylemcdougallphoto.com

 

Posted in: General, Landscape Photography

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Sources Of Inspiration

To kick off the new year, I’ve decided to launch a blog category dedicated to sharing sources of inspiration. We live in a time where technology allows us to connect with so many people throughout the world as well as discover so many different sources of information. We are extremely lucky that through online networks and communities we can share images, critiques and ideas with each other with the sole purpose of helping push our creative boundaries further.

I’m constantly amazed by the amount of optimistic attitudes that are present in the photography community and the willingness to help others advance their craft. On a daily basis, I come across things that inspire and drive my photography career. This could be a certain photographer’s images, a specific article, podcasts etc. Through these blog posts, I hope to provide you all with a source of inspiration.

Alister Benn – Available Light Images

Alister Benn – Available Light Images

 

For today’s post, I want to share a set of podcasts by a photographer named Alister Benn; they are sure to help educate, inform and inspire you. Alister is a talented photographer of Scottish descent, who specializes in images of the Tibetan region. He is also known for his impressive night photography work, his excellent e-books and is also one of the co-founders of whytake.net. Alister runs harvestinglight.net, which is a website focused on educating other photographers through articles, e-books and podcasts. I came across Alister’s podcasts a few months back and spent a good part of the day listening to all three. Alister couldn’t have chosen three better subjects to start with. Each interview touches on its own individual points unique to the photographer; everything from creative vision to processing. 

In my opinion, there isn’t anything much more interesting than listening to experienced photographers speak about their craft, including their approach, style, and technique. So hop on over to Alister’s website and have a listen, you won’t be disappointed: http://harvestinglight.net/podcasts/

Also, while you are there, make sure you take the time to have a look at Alister’s other work. There is plenty of inspiring material to keep you busy for days. 

 

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Kyle McDougall is a landscape photographer/workshop leader based out of Ontario, Canada.  He specializes in creating fine art images that touch on both a visual and emotional level.  When not outside exploring the land you can find Kyle online sharing his images and helping others through his instructional articles.  In 2012 Kyle was chosen by Photolife Magazine as one of Canada’s Emerging Photographers.  To view more of his work please visit his website: www.kylemcdougallphoto.com

 

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Returning To A Familiar Place

Well it’s official… it’s winter. As I type this post a small layer of snow slowly accumulates on my lawn outside. It’s been three days now and it hasn’t left… I have a pretty good feeling that it’s here to stay. This time of year is always an interesting one for photography.

From about November onwards the most prominent colour in the landscape is brown, and most trees are left bare giving the surrounding area a rather dull/dead look. At first glance these attributes are far from attractive and used to leave me with a lack of motivation.

As I’ve grown as a photographer I’ve learned how important it is to be able to look beyond first impressions and really study the landscape. There are images everywhere and it all comes down to choosing the right elements such as light quality and composition to help compliment your subject.

Last weekend I headed out to an area not far from my home named “Torrance Barrens”. This area is a unique conservation reserve designated by the province of Ontario in 1999 as the world’s first permanent dark sky reserve. The area itself is unique compared to anything else in the region. Large rock outcrops and an abundance of plant and wildlife make this a great place to hike and photograph. On top of all this the area is extremely peaceful… every time I’ve visited I’ve either been the only one there or saw few others.

This particular morning was fairly mild and the difference in temperature over night left the land covered in thick fog. I roamed the landscape stopping at a few spots to explore the area with my camera and create some more intimate images. This was my first time out shooting since my recent trip to Hawaii and the scenery couldn’t have been anymore opposite. Soft contrast and subtle shapes and colours, compared to big bold dramatic skies and the powerful ocean.

To be honest it was a nice change and just reminded me of how much beauty there is in any location. I took advantage of the conditions and explored the area for the first four hours of the morning. This particular morning was proof that some of the best things in life are free.

The following is a collection of the images I created that morning. I hope you enjoy! 


Kyle McDougall is a landscape photographer/workshop leader based out of Ontario, Canada.  He specializes in creating fine art images that touch on both a visual and emotional level.  When not outside exploring the land you can find Kyle online sharing his images and helping others through his instructional articles.  In 2012 Kyle was chosen by Photolife Magazine as one of Canada’s Emerging Photographers.  To view more of his work please visit his website: www.kylemcdougallphoto.com

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