Northwest Exposure Photography Tips: Mukul Soman
Leading up to the Northwest Exposure Photo Contest we’ll be sitting down with some of last year’s winners to talk all things photography. First up, Mukul Soman, winner of the Flora and Fauna category.
The 2015 Northwest Exposure Photo Contest is nearly here, and we’re excited to see the photos you’ve taken while out on Washington’s trails. Leading up to the contest we’ll be sitting down with some of last year’s winners to talk all things photography and how you can hone your skills.
Encountering wildlife while you’re hiking can be an exhilarating experience, but capturing that moment in a photo can be difficult. Dealing with living subjects is a lot different than taking a picture of a stationary mountain, but one person who knows how to get the shot is Mukul Soman, winner of the 2014 Northwest Exposure Photo Contest in the Flora and Fauna category. We had a chance heard from him on what it takes to get a prizeworthy shot.
Congratulations again on winning the Flora and Fauna category in 2014. What tips can you give for photographing animals in their natural habitats?
Keep a safe distance and be patient. Photographing any animal in their natural surroundings involves getting into their environment. For me that means getting to know the behavior of the animal that I am photographing, as that minimizes risk of an unpleasant encounter for me or the animal.
You have to communicate to the animal that you are not a threat and at that point, the animal goes about its business as if you are not even there. Remember, it's about your subject giving you a moment, more than you snatching one from them!
Do you find some animals are easier to photograph than others?
Every wild animal is different and so is the difficulty bar to photograph them. Complexities also depend on how you want to photograph them. I like to get as close as I can to my subjects but that can be quite difficult in most cases.
Animals that have been exposed to human presence on a regular basis are easier to photograph, but it's the elusive ones that are more difficult to get close to that motivate me to go out there and photograph them.
What makes a good nature photograph?
It's the same thing that makes any good photograph. It should communicate something. Pretty pictures are easy to make these days, but telling a story with your photograph and evoking an emotional response from the viewer is what a makes a good photograph a great one.
What advice do you have for photographers looking to improve their skills?
Stop worrying about the technical aspects and concentrate on finding your voice. Photography used to be a highly challenging art form just from a technical point of view, up until a few years ago. In today's world, that's all changed. High quality cameras with relatively easy interfaces have become very affordable to anyone interested in photography.
To improve one’s skills, clarity of thought and the reasons behind why you want to be a photographer is what matters. So pick an area in photography that you like and are passionate about and move past making pretty pictures. Instead, focus on projects. There are a lot of stories out there that need to be told through your lens.