Welcome to the next edition of ‘Why We Print,‘ our ongoing interview series where we get to know photographers of all kinds to learn more about what motivates and inspires their photography, and of course, create amazing prints and photobooks.
In this interview, we speak with landscape photographer Chris Ewen Crosby about his vision and inspiration.
I’m most interested in landscape photography as I’ve always been amazed by the variety of nature throughout the world. I’m probably most known for my seascape and milky way images as those are two things I shoot often living in Los Angeles. The ocean is just a few miles away and I can view the milky way easily by driving a few hours. Before I became a full-time photographer, the night often the only time I had to shoot so I would shoot the stars as often as I could. Since I’ve begun to pursue my true passions in the daytime. I love atmospheric landscapes and that’s always something I’m searching for
I picked up my first DSLR, a Canon T2i in 2009 to start to document my adventures hiking in the local mountains of Los Angeles. In the early days of cell phone cameras, I wasn’t getting great photos and wanted something to show beautiful views properly. So my older brother, who had been suggesting I buy a camera, pushed me towards buying one and I really started to enjoy it. Like most people, I figured it would be easy to take great photos. I was somewhat successful in program modes but quickly realized that I needed to understand manual to really control my images. I practiced and took my camera out as often as I could. I would take my roommate’s dog for walks and take pictures of everything while trying to find interesting perspectives. Eventually I got busy with work and lost some interest. A girlfriend, a child, and a few years later, I rediscovered photography again in 2013 after seeing a great seascape image online. It triggered something inside my brain that wondered how the photographer was able to capture such a great image. I started to go out again and practice. I bought some more lenses and started to research techniques in almost all my spare time. I became obsessed. I spent the next few years learning more while continuing to work my day job and eventually made the decision to leave it behind for my passion.
There are a few reasons why I print my images. First, I’m turning 38 soon and I grew up in an era where printed media was very much a big thing. My parent’s house was filled with books, art, and magazines. I was just passed down an Ansel Adams book for example. My parents also took a ton of pictures of my siblings and I using my dad’s Canon AE-1 and printed them all for us to look at and share. Having pictures to touch was special and something that this generation is losing. I love seeing my own work in print for this reason. Having that physical piece of artwork to view on the wall is something that I’ll never want to lose. I put a few prints of my work around the house so that my kids know where Daddy disappeared to. I also print because others want to purchase my work. This fact still amazes me to this day. My favorite medium is metal prints and acrylic prints as they are so visually stunning, but for small prints around the house I use Luster or Gloss Photo Paper. For my milky way images, I sometimes use Metallic Paper for a little extra sparkle in the sky!
As a landscape photographer you are always on a project because you are usually chasing special conditions in many places. For me, I’m working on a trip through the Pacific Northwest to shoot all sorts of scenes. I want to shoot the Redwoods, waterfalls, lakes, and mountains of the PNW. I’m also working on a trip through the Southwest to shoot Utah and Arizona. I have some specific conditions at many locations that I am after and I’m sure that it’s going to take several years to finally get them all.
My best advice to photographers that are starting out is to really learn your camera and it’s every function. Not just what button does what, but developing muscle memory to be able to change settings without looking. Think if a racecar driver had to look at his feet to remember which pedal is which and where they were located. You have to be able to feel your camera and adjust settings quickly. I also encourage photographers to shoot in manual mode and pay close attention to their exposure, depth of field and composition. These three things will instantly improve your snapshots into photographs. Most of all, practice! You can’t be good at anything without lots of practice and study time when not in the field. Not even Tiger Woods can pick up a golf club after a few months and hit a perfect shot. You must develop your photography muscle to be able to perform to the best of its ability.
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