Hey Max! It’s so great to meet you and have the chance to not only pick your brain with questions but to see your gorgeous work also. Tell us a little about yourself; where are you from and how did you get started?
My background is in biology and field research. I graduated with degrees in Biology and Environmental Science, but I always had a passion for photography. After graduating I would scour the internet searching for the most remote and exotic field work positions around the world (partly to pursue my interest in photography). I spent the first few years after school doing conservation research around southern Africa, Asia, and Alaska. During that time I spent every free minute exploring with my camera by my side. This led me to build a strong enough portfolio to get me where I am today!
We have noticed that some photographers lean towards a primary focus on astrophotography or just golden hour shooting. Your photo gallery and interests seem to be fairly evenly weighted between both. Do you have a preference that is closer to your heart?
I am very passionate about night photography because it requires a certain level of technical skill, but there is also a strong creative component involved. I see it as an outlet to create a photograph that is entirely unique. It’s always a challenge as it can often be difficult to photograph a landmark that sees thousands of tourists each year in a new and unique way when you are shooting during daylight hours. There are so many variables involved in night photography (stars, moon, external lighting, exposure, angles, etc.) that you really have to ‘create the picture’, whereas with many daylight photos it is more about searching for the angle and waiting for the light.
What do you love about having your images printed?
It’s one thing to see your images on a computer screen, but an entirely different experience to see them printed. There is definitely a wow factor when you first lay eyes on a printed piece, and it’s always an exciting moment opening a package of new prints that arrives in the mail!
What was the last picture you printed with Bay Photo?
Recently, I have been working on aerial photography assignments, so I have been printing several drone pictures over the last few months.
Do you have a favorite medium you prefer to print on?
I am a huge fan of Bay Photo’s Metal Prints. I have been ordering my work on metal with Bay for the last five years and every time a new piece arrives I’m always blown away by the image quality. I also find that working with metal is much easier than traditional framed photography. No glass to worry about breaking, no wood frames to worry about scratching – best of all, much less time matting/framing and more time out in the field shooting!
Clearly you are very passionate about nature. How do you feel that this impacts your images?
In many ways my career in photography is a product of my passion for nature. Having a background in biology has been the perfect introduction into the photographic world because I can be out in the field working on a conservation research project while pursuing my interest in photography simultaneously! This love for nature really translates into my images because often times I spend hours, even days, waiting for the moments that capture my heart before snapping the picture that really captivates me.
Can you share with us one challenge that you would like to tackle before the year is out?
For me, the greatest challenge is the unknown. I love taking on new assignments at locations I have never traveled to before because it gives me the opportunity to see a destination with entirely new eyes. I try not to search through images of a location before I go because it may bias my own work. Therefore, I love the excitement and the challenge of discovering a place for the first time and capturing it in a new light.
What are the compositional elements that you find vital to powerful, fresh images?
Recently I have been doing a lot of aerial filming with drones, and for me this has been the most exciting development in photographic history. No longer am I limited to the two-dimensional world where my feet can take me. Rather, I am able to explore new angles and perspectives that have never been seen by human eyes!
It’s no secret that it is a competitive field out there with more and more folks producing amazing imagery. What do you think it takes to set yourself apart from the crowd?
I am always thinking of new ways to separate my work from the masses. I was at the forefront of the night photography trend before it became popular (my night photography images have won several international awards over the years) and recently I have been pioneering the world of aerial photography, another new and exciting development in the photography world. It’s important to stay ahead of the curve and create unique images that the world has never seen before. This is what sets any photographer apart from the rest of the crowd.
Do you have a favorite location that is close to your heart and that you enjoy exploring and photographing?
My career in photography takes me all over the world, but the more I travel, the more I fall in love with my hometown of Boulder, Colorado. There are so many hidden gems and beautiful locations in Colorado, and to call it my backyard is an amazing feeling. You really start to appreciate home when you are not around very often.
What do you think it takes (mentally) to be a successful landscape photographer?
Patience and drive. Patience to get the pictures that count and the drive to put yourself through what it takes to get those pictures. I have sat in sub-zero temperatures in a small hut for three days straight waiting for the elements to be right for a single image. I have spent hours tracking herds of wildebeest through thorn bushes and mud pits in the bush of Africa to put myself in the right position for a moonrise picture. This determination is what leads to great images. Often times the most powerful images come from the most uncomfortable situations.
What is one piece of advice you would like to leave with our readers?
Follow your heart and your passion. I would have never made it as a wedding photographer because it’s simply not who I am. Do what comes naturally. I could spend days hanging out in a colony of penguins and enjoy every minute of it. Camping out under the stars, capturing the beauty of the night sky – and in return, getting less than an hour or two of sleep – is what drives me. Find your niche, and go for it.