Photographic artistry can take on many forms. Those that make the greatest impact often challenge convention and blend styles to create something new. Nature photography is defined almost as strictly as Photojournalism where one’s subject must be honestly portrayed with minimal digital alteration (e.g. no composites, cloning, etc.) all while showing animals in the wild versus captivity. Fine art photography on the other hand swings to the other end of the spectrum where anything goes. One photographer who blends these two photographic genres together in such a way to highlight the best of both worlds is Michael Kern who is today’s guest on “3 Minutes with…”
1. Describe your photography in 100 words or less.
“Help people find the beauty in the beast” – Since the dawn of time, few creatures have stirred as much emotion as serpents and dragons. Evoking fear and respect, hatred and reverence, they dominate the mythology of virtually every major civilization. Nonetheless these creatures of nature can be spectacularly beautiful, rich in color, line, texture and form – classic elements of artistic style and composition. Unfortunately, appreciation of this beauty requires one to get close enough to study the complex scale patterns, color palettes, and textures that nature creating in these species. I create my images to help people find this rarely seen beauty in a safe, non-threatening manner.
2. What gear/software do you use?
I shoot with Nikon gear…. Currently a D3 and D3X (when I can get my hands on one). Almost 90% of my work is shot with a Nikkor 105 macro lens. I heavily utilize and love the whole Nikon R1C1 macro flash system. I have added additional light modules to the system to increase the shooting flexibility and creativity options. In postproduction, I have been all over the place, from Photoshop to Lightroom to Capture NX…. utilizing quite a few add ins. I am currently using Lightroom and Photoshop w/Nik SW’s Viveza as my current workflow solution.
3. What’s one quick tip that you’d give people interested in animal portrait photography?
Don’t be afraid to break the rules. My work doesn’t fit in any real genre. I try to create “fine art images” with my work but because the subjects are of animals people consider my work “nature photography”. However, since I stage most of my shoots, my work isn’t pure nature either. I am in between genres….
4. What 3 Photography Sites or Photo blogs do you recommend?
Most of my research is need specific…. I keep my eye on Nikon Rumors and DP Review but also have gotten a lot of value from the National Association of Photoshop Professionals when new versions of the Adobe tools are released.