Adventure is the word many people would say when they think of National Geographic photographes. I certainly do. Thumb through the pages of any given issue, and you’ll see images from a wide range of often exotic locales. They’re images that not only look great, but they have something to say. Rarely do we give thought to what went into the making of those images. How exactly did they get the shot of that tiger, and how the hell did they get to the top of that mountain? These are questions worth considering, and those assignments are not without their pratfalls.
There are apparently different metrics for success in photography. Some would measure success in the size of an audience. Others would measure it in the number of awards and publications. Some would measure it based on the actual quality of the work. And some would tie it solely to financial success. Last week, a piece called “15 Statements Poor Photographers Say That Rich Photographers Do Not” with 32 unsourced quotes – 15 by poor shooters and 17 by rich ones – was widely shared. It is, at the very least, bad journalism, and if both sets of quotes are to be believed, utter nonsense.
In this episode of ISO 400, we hear from Elie Gardner and Oscar Durand, a married pair of photojournalists who have been working together for the past five years. They began their career together in Lima, Peru in 2011, and worked there for four years, covering all kinds of different stories, from a massive aerobics class in a dangerous prison to conservation efforts to protect the Amazonian manatee. They published their work through Inti Media, a multimedia collective they founded. Towards the end of their time in Peru, they founded Everyday Latin America, an Instagram community dedicate to showing daily life in Latin America.
Earlier this year, they began a new chapter by moving to Istanbul, Turkey, where they’ve had to get used to not knowing the language entirely, though they are working on it.
A selection of their work and the episode are below. As always, our music is provided by Yuki Futami, a New York-based jazz musician.
Dear little old lady getting off the bus,
I didn’t expect to see you getting off the bus as a wave of people walked along the street. It seemed like everybody had disembarked. Yet, you emerged, and I couldn’t have been happier. In the moment, I don’t have a list of reasons as to why I press the shutter. It’s usually that I noticed some sort of dynamism, an interesting gesture, a poignant sign, or a whole manner of other things.
With you, I noticed differences. There was the speed you were walking and the speed everyone else walking. There was the bus behind you, too, which is a huge symbol of mobility. It’s the motion, really, that got me, the paths throughout the frame, and everything seemed to radiate out from where you were.
Of course, I couldn’t talk to you because we most likely don’t speak the same language. I’m an American living in Istanbul, and my Turkish is very bare bones. Moreover, it would’ve complicated things to try and explain through any number of translators why I took the picture, and there’s the chance, too, that you didn’t see me, as I was gone shortly after making the photo.
All of this is to say thank you for being where you were.
Photography can be a crapshoot. Sometimes you don’t know if you should press the shutter. Sometimes you don’t know how you should edit an image. There are plenty of variables! So, in the spirit of our Reverse Guide to Instagram, we thought we’d put together a reverse guide to photography, a collection of terrible tips that would be ill-advised to actually heed.
All images are copyright Lauren Welles, and are being used with permission.
In this episode of ISO 400, we hear from Lauren Welles, a New York-based photographer. She left a 16-year-career in corporate law for photography about six years ago. The change was necessary, one that revived her. We spoke with Welles last year about her Coney Island series of photographs that was featured on The Fence at Photoville. She’s got an eye for street photography that she’s been developing since she started. In this episode, she tells us about the perils and benefits of leaving a comfortable job, realizing her own photographic identity and more.
As always, our music is provided by Yuki Futami, a New York-based jazz musician.