Today we want you to meet Geoff Powell – a fine art photographer who runs workshops in France and the UK along with online courses. He’s a successful painter, a photographer, a blogger, a businessman and a happy father. Geoff’s day has more than 24 hours and he’s very happy with it.
In this interview we tried to show you real Geoff Powell – the person who stands behind all those beautiful wildlife photos you’ve probably seen earlier. So enjoy the conversation and a roundup of photos taken by this cheerful fine art photographer!
1. Geoff, you’ve grown up in an artistic family, so have you ever had any doubts while choosing your career or maybe everything was absolutely clear since your early childhood?
My fathers side contained professional painters and designers, and my mothers side contained professional photographers. At first, my path was very clear; I would be an artist. However, I ended up altering that path later on, choosing a path in computer engineering first and later finance (a near complete opposite path from art). The reason for my choice was purely financial. I was 20 and computer jobs were paying over twice as much as any job I could get in the arts. My paramount motivation at the time was to be able to provide support for a family. This was the easiest path to achieve that goal. While I don’t necessarily regret straying from my artistic roots, I can say with certainty that I am never happier then I am when I’m creating art, no matter the medium. It took 10 years for me to make the decision to abandon my altered direction and return to the field of art. I’ve never been more happy with myself and my career path than I am now. This struggle between logic and passion is constant with me, and shows up in my art. It, at times, hinders creativity, but at other times, gives me the ability to step back and be evaluative, which has always led to self
2. On your blog you say that you’re “a loving father of four fantastic kids”. Have you ever experienced any situations when your children brought something new into your photography and you could say nothing but “wow”?
Oh absolutely. My oldest daughter is one of the most creative people I know. All my kids are getting into photography at a very early age. My 7 year old son goes on a lot of wildlife expeditions with me using his 100-300mm lens and 2x crop sensor body. He’s done some amazing work.
3. You are a nature-inspired photographer. So do you think that a wildlife photographer differs from fine art or documentary photographers?
That’s a good question. In many ways, wildlife photography requires a documentary approach or it becomes too fictitious. In other words, the subject colors and forms much remain true. The environment must be an accurate representation of where the subject survives. Yet at the same time, there is much more to wildlife photography than just point and shoot to document behavior, or something. All the fine art principles apply, such as good light, good composition, proper angles, etc. in order to make a pleasing image. On top of just making a pleasing image through the principles I just mentioned, there is also a lot of artistic license one can take in wildlife photography without delving into making a mythical creature. This can be accomplished through various processing techniques. I have a couple of samples of that I will attach so you can see what I mean. In one case I desaturated the image (making it a grey scale image) then applied a soft sepia tone to it (slight warming effect through the use of orange tints) and painted back in the natural color in select areas of the bird through various masks.
Photo by Geoff Powell
In the other example, I over exposed the sky producing an abstract white on white look, bleeding the back of the bird into the open white area.
Photo by Geoff Powell
4. Birds and animals seem to be your favorite photo models. But hardly do they ever strike poses for you for hours. So how do you get along with them? Do you speak animals’ language?
This is certainly true. Patience is the name of the game in wildlife photography. There are times when you’re just sitting there waiting for an interesting expression or tender moment to be revealed. Just snapping away will produce a documentation of the subject, but there will be little emotion involved for the viewer.
5. In your portfolio on 500px.com you name yourself a “birder“. What does it mean for you as a photographer?
Birds are just about the only images I keep for documentary purposes. If I get a new species it doesn’t have to be an artistically pleasing image for me to keep it. I am striving to collect as many species of birds as I can through my images. I am, however, always looking to catch all my subjects in an artistic manner. I just have a passion for my feathered friends.
6. Geoff, you run your personal successful photo blog. Is it hard to combine your photographer activity with blogging? And does it bear good results?
I view the blog as a place I can share experiences and tips with the world. I enjoy the process and I have met interesting photographers because of it.
7. What are your most favorite and most irritating things to do in photography?
My favorite thing is without doubt the act of being out in nature photographing. The most irritating thing to me is organizing the digital files with metadata, etc., making sure the website is functioning, and fixing technical problems be they hardware or software. I also get a certainly amount of enjoyment from processing my images and seeing final product come to life, but it pales in comparison to being in the field.
8. Do you create custom photos or do you prefer to catch moments and capture natural things around you without forcing stuff?
I do both. I’m an artist first. I will certainly take the time necessary to get the natural moments and expressions I want, but I will also use my creativity to make composite images from various stock I’ve collected through the years. My composites are more for my own personal creative enjoyment however, and not something I really do professionally.
9. We know your photos are successfully sold within photostockplus.com. Please give some pro suggestions on photography marketing for aspiring photographers who are just looking to start earning money on their photos.
I sell images through various agencies, both stock and news, as well as print fulfillment centers like imagekind. I also recommend selling prints through shows and galleries locally. Photostockplus enables me to source certain products with my images (like puzzles for example) that I find valuable, but there are many stock sources out there for people only looking to sell the image itself that will take them with no cost to you. Wildlife as stock is a tough business. Stock itself is a tough business. Contacting magazines might yield better results. Selling your wildlife photography as fine art prints are also a great way to bring in money.
10. And the last question: what would you recommend to the beginner photographers who will read this interview?
At the very end we’d like to showcase some really awesome Geoff’s photos. After all, we guess you’ll be searching for more artworks of Geoff. Let’s check it!
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Great insight into the birding photographers mind. Love all the images but that first one of the bird peering into the water is stunning.
@John, thanks for coming back to Photodoto! It means a lot to me.
And you know, Geoff’s photos of birds are really great! 1000 thanks for your praise. I guess Geoff is and he will be pleased with your words.