Sunday, December 5, 2010

Meet photographer Kent Weakley

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The featured artist for February 2009 was photographer Kent Weakley. Kent does work in both infrared and color photography and has received numerous awards for his work. Kent recently started teaching an online photography class to "shutterbugs" worldwide.

Why do you take photographs?

Good question - not sure. I guess I just love capturing all the beauty around. I suppose that's the cliche answer, but it is true. On a deeper level I, like so many other artists, believe we are seeing things in a way that no one else is. That our perspective is unique. It may or may not be. This is one of the reason I fell in love with infrared black & white photography. Even when I think I'm seeing something different or unique, the infrared aspect takes it to a surreal level. A scene shifts from reality to something more of a dream state. I guess another big reason I photograph is to share. I love showing my images and sharing the excitement of photography with family, friends, and clients. There's nothing like walking into a business or client's home and seeing a finished image hanging eight feet wide for all to view.

How do you decide what to photograph?

I've shot many different subject matter in infrared, however certain things work best. For instance, living trees and grass "glow" or reflect infrared light the best in direct sunlight. I love trees and I've always looked for a way to showcase their majestic appearance, so they are usually my main focus. Rural, rustic scenic landscapes are always calling to me. I try not to do any alterations of the scene in the computer, so it takes lots of driving and searching to find a location that will truly work.

What is your technique?

I shoot Infrared Black & White Photography. Not the old fussy film IR that was more a guessing game than art, I do everything digital. I'm currently shooting with a Nikon D300 which has been converted to "see" only infrared light. My technique also includes shooting multiple images to create large panoramic images.

Where did you learn your technique?

I picked up this idea on the web from a story about digital IR photography. At the time I had a camera that would "see" IR light. After experimenting for many weeks, there was no going back.

How long does it take you to get the average photograph?

It all depends. I've lucked out and come across a landscape that is perfect compositionally and lighting wise and shot it in less than 20 minutes. On the other hand, I have a few locations, I revisited on numerous occasions, only to not have conditions right. And have never gotten the shot.

Do you ever have goof-ups or work you don't like?

Of course. When searching for a location you have your eyes to tell you the scene looks good, but the way the infrared light alters the scene can vary dramatically. To me, this is the real fun part. Sometimes I get back and look at the images and I'm shocked at the detail and light and overall effect. Other times, it just comes out OK. Having that element of surprise from the IR keeps it fun.

What else do you do besides your photography?

My "day job" is running my graphic design and advertising business, Blue Sky Graphic Communication, Inc. 2009 marks my 20th year in business. We do everything from logos to website, brochures to billboards. Basically, the purpose of my company is to help other businesses tell their stories and communicate with their customers. And of course, my photography plays a key role in telling those stories.

What would you like to do more of in the future?

Travel. I'd really like to continue my search for beautiful landscapes with various trees. I've come across many interesting trees I'd love to go visit and photograph. It's funny, but now with the internet I can find trees that are popular in a particular area, trees that are native to only one region, etc. I love exploring, finding an interesting scene, going there, and sharing it with everyone.

What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?

Shoot, shoot, and keep shooting. Be curious, ask questions and seek answers. Every shot you take leads a photographer learning more and and making better pictures. Now with digital, it's almost free to shoot endlessly.

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