Interview with the Prodigious Outdoor Photographer Lewis Kemper

5 min

9.8k shares, 55063 points
“Today it takes many different strategies to stay in the forefront. Of course a strong digital presence is important, website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.”

Times of Youth: For those who don’t know about you and your work, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Lewis Kemper: I am a nature, wildlife, outdoor photographer who has been working as a professional for over 35 years. I photograph what I love and have been fortunate enough to make a living doing what I love!

I got my start in photography with a high school class in my senior year and it changed my life. I decide to study photography in college and then went on to work at the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite National Park. I began teaching and writing about photography then and have written hundreds of articles and taught hundreds of classes. My work has appeared in magazines, books, calendars, ads, cards, etc. around the world. I was a Canon Explorer of Light for 10 years and now serve as an Explorer of Light, Emeritus.

I got into digital early have been using Photoshop since version 2.5 and was an Alpha tester for Lightroom. You can learn more at my website.

Times of Youth: What does photography mean to Lewis Kemper?

To me photography is a way of life. I can’t imagine not taking and sharing pictures. I think it is part of my DNA. I fell in love with photography as a student in high school taking a class that was half the year photography and half the year astronomy. I make my living witwfh a camera and own a telescope, so I guess it was a great class!

Times of Youth: How did you end up being such a versatile photographer, and what made you choose this as a profession?

I have always photographed the things I have a passion for, which is nature and travel and since these are broad subjects I get to do many different types of photography from macro to wildlife and everything in between.  As far as choosing it as a profession, there was nothing else in life that interested me more than taking and sharing images, so I never had any doubt that is what I was going to do.

Times of Youth: Who are your favorite classic photographers, and how did they influence your career path?

My favorite classic photographers, and I guess by that you mean old and probably dead , are Ansel Adams, Philip Hyde, Ernst Haas, and Eliot Porter. I was fortunate enough to have met all of them except Eliot Porter.  I used to work at the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite National Park, when I was starting out as a photographer and Ansel would hold his workshops there and invite all of these amazing photographers to teach.  Through that experience I got to meet and also work with some of those people.  It was an amazing experience and one that helped shape my life!

Times of Youth: As a photographer, which aspect is the most important to capture the subjects fantastically?

The most important is light! I often tell people I am going out to photograph light and then try to find a subject that shows off that great light.

Times of Youth: How do you get the person, place or thing that is in front of your camera to look on the film just the way you want?

It is much easier with digital than it ever was with film.  With film our dynamic range was so limited that every time you took a picture you were making compromises on the light.  You had to decide to either underexpose your shadows or overexpose your highlights, there was not way to control the range on a sunny day.  Now with digital and raw files, HDR, and Photoshop it is so much easier to photograph what you see and to portray what you photograph in the way you perceived it. So to answer that question, I would say I pay attention to the details and quality of the light and subject and I use whatever tools are available to me to bring out the desired emotions I want to convey in a scene. I am a big fan of realistic HDR photography, and I think that has given me the opportunity to photograph the way I have always wanted to convey a scene.

Times of Youth: Of all the conferences & workshops that you’ve been to, which has been the most memorable?

Wow, tough question.  For sure they have to be Ansel’s workshops in Yosemite, and  Fotofusion in West Palm Beach, Florida which I have been affiliated with for 20 years!  But my favorite experience was when I was giving a lecture in Rehoboth, DE and my high school photography teacher got to attend 41 years after I graduated.

Times of Youth: Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?

I can’t pick a favorite because my favorite is always the last good picture I took, but hopefully that will be replaced the next time I go out and make images!

One word answers:

1. What type of cameras do you shoot with? Canon

2. If you had to choose one lens which one would it be? For landscape my 24-105 for wildlife my 150-600

3. What is your favourite photography accessory, other than your camera? 
My Feisol Tripod

4. How would you describe your style? Dramatic Light

5. What is your most used Photoshop tool, plug-in, action set etc.? Curves

Times of Youth: One of today’s main discussion points amongst photographers is about the use of digital photography and computer softwares to beautify the clicks; what is the influence of digitalization on your photography?

I use the new technology to allow me to create the scenes with the quality of light and detail that I have always wanted to capture. Before digital that was impossible under most lighting situations, not I find there is no light I can not capture to my satisfaction.

Times of Youth: Marketing and self promotion is crucial to photographers as other businesses. What is your ultimate strategy to capture the audiences? 

Today it takes many different strategies to stay in the forefront. Of course a strong digital presence is important, website, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I also like to speak at as many presentations, and conferences as I can get invitations. Writing online and print articles also help keep my name out there.

Times of Youth: One of today’s main discussion points amongst photographers is about the use of digital photography and computer softwares to beautify the clicks; what is the influence of digitalization on your photography? 

Digital photography and post processing are all part of the tools we have available to use today, so I have no objections to using any of these tools as long as the image ends up being about the subject and the story you want to tell and not about the process you used to create it.  I see what I consider too many images that are about the software and not about the picture.

Times of Youth: What do you think is the biggest obstacle for established professionals like yourself to remain successful in today’s times?

The whole market for photography has changed since I have been in business.  There was a time when your image was valuable for publication and I feel that time is long gone. Most photographers I know that were successful at selling images for publication, advertising, brochures, etc. (stock photography) are now making their money leading tours, workshops, teaching, and writing or selling books and ebooks.  So now the photographer and his/her knowledge may be valued but the image is not. So you just need to adapt with the times. Personally there is no way I would want to start out as a nature/outdoor photographer in today’s business climate.

Times of Youth: What advice/message do you have for somebody who wants to pursue photography via TIMES OF YOUTH?

Do what you love to do and do it to the best of your ability, the rest will come to you.

Times of Youth: Do tell us how fans can contact you to share their appreciation/feedback/suggestions.

Either via my website or email me at [email protected]

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Times of Youth is an International Youth Magazine read by the youth of more than 82 countries. Times of Youth brings the latest Youth Opportunities, News, Interviews, Fully Funded Scholarships, Paid Internships, Future Stars, Rising Stars, etc.For further details you can email us at: [email protected]


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