Michael Greene is a landscape photographer based in Arizona who decided to turn professional nine years ago so that he could share his love of the American wilderness with others – we are very glad that he did…
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you began shooting landscapes.
Since my college days, I have been an avid hiker and photography was a natural extension of my love for the outdoors. On one hiking trip, armed with a disposable camera, I asked my friend to take a picture of me standing on a small waterfall. His composition was terrible and I realized how much more thoughtful my compositions were than the average person. I began to pursue photography more seriously after receiving positive feedback and encouragement from others.
Why do you photograph? What is it about the medium and this particular subject matter that appeals to you most?
I like the ability to create art and it is the creative pursuits that really drive me. Landscape photography has allowed me to experience certain conditions and unusual phenomena in nature that I most likely would have never discovered had I just been out there to go hiking. Frankly, in terms of creative endeavours, I’d rather be a painter as I think it requires more talent – although I’m not sure I was blessed with natural ability in that area. The most appealing part of the subject matter for me is most certainly the solitude. I like to experience an intimate connection with the landscape something for me that’s hard to do around a bunch of other people. I like making my own decisions and the freedom that it brings.
What do you find is the most challenging aspect of landscape photography?
The business of landscape photography. Successfully marketing my work and generating business. I have a business background so I know what to do – it is just easy to become complacent.
Talk us through the contents of your camera bag when you are planning a landscape shoot.
My contents rarely change; I use a Lowe Pro camera bag, which I put inside of a large, Kelty backpack. Inside of the Lowe Pro I carry two lenses; a 16-35mm and a 24-70mm as well as my camera body, 3-4 filters, wireless remote control, bubble level, extra batteries, a hex key, and microfiber cloth. Depending on the trip, I may also pack two telephoto lenses. I have two tripods that I use; a small, lightweight Gitzo and a larger, taller and more bulky Enduro. The one I chose to use depends on a bunch of different factors. I also regularly carry a GPS, my cell phone, a personal locator beacon, pack cover and umbrella.
How much post-production do you like to do with your landscape photography?
I don’t like to do any ; ) Frankly, I personally find the process of editing to be tedious although I am trying to change my attitude in hopes that it produces better results. Depending on the shot, editing can take anywhere between thirty minutes to two hours or more.
What are your top three pieces of advice that you would give to photographers considering landscape photography?
1. Be yourself. It is cool to admire others’ work, but trying to emulate someone so closely that your work looks just like theirs is only doing a disservice to your own creative abilities.
2. Respect mother nature. Don’t take where you go for granted. Be respectful of the place as well as the dangers it holds. People get into trouble when they don’t have a contingency plan. I travel a lot by myself and I can tell you that I always plan for the worst case scenario.
3. It’s never too late to get started. If this is something that interests you – pursue it at some level. Spending time in nature is very rewarding!
Where would be your dream location for a shoot?
One of the first places that comes to mind is the Kamchatka Peninsula in Eastern Russia. Another place that is closer to home is the sand dunes outside of Juarez, Mexico.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
Currently, I am writing my first book which focuses on exploring and photographing high altitude mountain lakes in Southwest Colorado. It is my hope that it will inspire people to visit this unbelievable area as well be a useful, time saving resource and an entertaining read. In addition to photography tips on each location, it will have ratings, detailed hiking descriptions and driving directions and of course lots of high quality pictures. I hope to have it completed by early next year and I am planning on making it available as both an e-book as well as in print.
See more of Michael’s work at:
All images copyright Michael Greene.