Interview With a Photographer | Richard Bacon
What is the favourite place you’ve travelled to?
I haven't done much extensive traveling since the Pacific Northwest still feels relatively new to me and feels like a place you can explore for a lifetime. I was able to spend some time up in the Olympic Peninsula this year, and it was an incredible place. I'd love to explore some lesser seen locations across the U.S. this next year.
How did you get started as a photographer?
Growing up, my whole world was skateboarding, and that translated into making skateboard videos. When everything started switching to HD, I picked up a DSLR and realized I enjoyed shooting photos more than filming. Once moving to Oregon, I was blown away by the beauty around me and my wife and I spent most free time exploring our new backyard. Seeing so many incredible places made me want to document it, and over the last several years I started taking it a bit more seriously.
What camera equipment / software / tech do you use? Any must haves?
I currently use a Canon 5D Mark III, and my lenses are a 16-35mm f2.8 wide angle, a 70-200mm f4 zoom lens, a 50mm f1.4, and a 8-15mm f4 fisheye. I pretty much only use Lightroom for editing images. As for a must have, since I enjoy shooting astrophotography, having the 16-35 that goes down to f2.8 is critical. It's a great all around lens and the one I am using most often. Also, having a Peak Design camera clip on your backpack is a great way to always have quick access to your camera while hiking.
What photographers have influenced you, how you think and shoot?
I have a lot of favorites, and their styles are quite different. Benjamin Everett's images are some of the most intriguing scenes I've ever seen. His eye for compositions and how he captures layers in his work is beautiful. Donald Boyd is someone I respect a lot for his work and using his platform for good. He's an awesome voice for conservation and captures incredibly powerful images of wildlife. I've been a big fan of Scott Kranz's work for a long time, and Anthony Acosta is one of my favorite skateboard photographers. Since there's so many talented photographers these days, I have the most respect for people who are using their talents and following to bring light to worthy causes.
Any top tips for Instagram?
I have a love/hate with Instagram because while it can be a great way to be inspired and share your work, it can contribute to you becoming numb by seeing such a high volume of strong photography day in and day out. It can definitely open doors to photo work and exposure, but I think it's good to be aware of the fact this it still is a free app that might not even be popular in the next few years. In the past I've focused too much on the numbers, in terms of likes or followers, as some measure of success, which is silly. Like anything, I think balance is key. You should put effort into it because it's a platform to share your work to the world, but consider it as one of the pieces in your overall brand. I do think it's a great place to meet other people and photographers. When my wife and I moved to Bend, some of the first people we met were through Instagram and they are still some of our best friends to this day. It is, at the end of the day, "social" media!
What are you trying to communicate through your photographs?
I often ask myself this and saying that I'm sharing the beauty of the world with others seems cheesy. Since exploring the mountains and outdoors is a somewhat new experience for me, I still feel some compulsion to just be documenting the new places I'm exploring. I also think just getting out and trying to find creative compositions and learning new ways to shoot is a positive way to grow. It can feel like a selfish endeavor sometimes, but hopefully when people see my photos, they'll want to transport themselves to that place or be inspired to get outside.
What motivates you to continue doing what you’re doing?
The fact that there's so much of the world to see and I've only scratched the surface of one small pocket in the Pacific Northwest is a big motivator. I also would love to get into different areas of photography. There's so many different subjects and approaches to taking photos and I don't want to limit myself to being just a landscape photographer. I would love to shoot more winter and outdoor sports, and just document awesome people doing rad stuff. Central Oregon is host to some very talented athletes, so coming beside some of them to document their passion is something I'd love to grow in.
Are you a bathroom singer?
I would say more of a hummer than a singer in the shower. When I'm in the car though, I'll let loose. It's nice to have that background vocals to cover up what your voice really sounds like.
Do you have any advice for young aspiring photographers?
Do it for the right reasons. It's weird for me to give advice since I don't really consider myself a professional photographer since it's not my full time job, but as a part time freelancer, it's definitely a tough grind. I see a lot of people that all of a sudden get a big social media following or have some initial success and immediately want to quit their job and try to become a full time photographer. Not that I'm against chasing your dreams, but it's good to realize all that goes into shooting for a living. I would say focus on improving your craft is the number one priority starting out. I'm always looking back on old work and cringing at how I edited an image or how it was shot. I still have a lot to learn, but also recognizing improvements and being able to take pride in your work is important. Find people who are better than you and learn from them. Also, maybe you just want to occasionally snap some photos here and there without the goal of becoming a "photographer," and that's totally fine as well. Whatever amount of effort you want to put into photography is up to you.
What are your goals for the future, regarding your work?
As I previously mentioned, I would like to branch out to some new areas of photography and grow in my craft. I'm hoping to shoot a lot of backcountry skiing and snowboarding this winter, which I've only done a little of. My knowledge of photography is self-taught, so I often feel I'm lacking in certain technical aspects. Learning to shoot in a studio and with flashes is something I have very little experience, so that's on the list for sure. Overall, photography for me has been a huge motivator for me to be outdoors, so I look forward to the new places it will take me. I also want to be mindful of the moment at hand and not always be snapping photos, which I'm sure many of you can relate to.