Q&A With Mitch

I often get asked questions about my photography - the gear I use, the locations I shoot - and so I wanted to put together a mini guide of sorts. I hope you find some value in the answers to aid your own photography development, and should you have any further questions needing an answer, feel free to get in touch!

Q: How long have you been doing photography? 

Photography has been a running thread through my life since my youth. I'd found the concept of freezing a particular moment in time utterly fascinating.

Now somewhat a rare occurrence these days, my exposure into photography began with film. First, with disposable cameras on family holidays, then a bulky Polaroid instant camera, and then onto a high school film photography class, dark room and all. I can still smell the acidic chemical baths to this day.

However, I need to give fair credit to Instagram and the iPhone. Which after downloading mid-2013, inspired me to capture and share my local area's surrounding natural beauty.

Q: What camera do you shoot with?

After Instagram and the iPhone inspired my renaissance back into photography, I began to learn the workings of a manual DSLR on my girlfriend's Canon 550D. Shortly after I contracted camera fever myself and purchased my own Canon 70D.  I found these devices great entry points into the world of enthusiast photography. Both accessible enough to operate, while offering enough of the manual controls and settings to prepare me for the next level in photography gear ...

... my Sony A7RII, which I bought early-2016. And while I wouldn't necessarily recommend the camera for certain genres of photography (i.e. event or sports photography due to its mediocre autofocusing speed), it's perfect for my style of landscape and travel photography. The lightweight, compact mirrorless system is ideal on the go, and the high dynamic range, high resolution images are stunning as large landscape fine art prints.

Q: What lenses do you use?

The eternal dilemmas of a photographer, which lens should I buy? And which should I bring with me?

My first - and still favourite - lens on the Sony system was the Sony Zeiss 24-70mm f/4. An extremely capable all-rounder, it's my go to everyday lens. However, I have since added three new speciality lenses to my library of gear, each with their pros and cons:

  • Sony Zeiss 24-70mm f/4 - My travel lens. It's wide enough at 24mm for most landscape scenes, with the 70mm reach great for travel and portrait shots. The f/4 aperture provides nice background blur, and can also handle low-light astro scenes when called upon. For a long time I considered the Sony G Master 24-70mm f/2.8 as the perfect all-round portrait, low-light lens, however it is one hefty lens (it's almost 1kg), which I feel would limit limit how and when I would actually use it.
  • Sony 50mm f/1.8 - Coming in at less than $400, this is the most 'fun' lens to shoot with. With it's minimal profile (just 186g), you forget it's even attached to the camera body. The large f/1.8 aperture is fantastic for blurring the background to create artistic portraits. And while it's not the sharpest lens going around, it's easily the best-value lens in my kit.
  • Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 - My zoom lens. It's that simple. This lens does what the other simply can't. While my two main uses for it are wildlife and wave photography, this year I am eager to try it out with intimate landscape photography. Allowing me to get in close to shear mountain tops and compress grand open scenes.
  • Tokina FiRIN 20mm f/2 - The latest addition to my kit. While my previous landscape photos were taken with 24-70mm, there were occasions when 24mm just wasn't quite wide enough, forcing my to crop some of the sky or foreground. The 20mm will allow me to include both without concern, with the large f/2 aperture positioning me well as I seek to undertake more astrophotography this year.

Q: What type of photography do you enjoy the most?

Landscape. That was easy! :)

That said, I also enjoy travel, portrait, astro and even urban photography. I feel it's too limiting to remain with the confines of one particular genre, and the concepts you learn in one type will translate into other fields of photography. 

Q: Do you have a favourite location?

The South Coast of NSW, which I'm lucky to call home. From the rock shelves of North Wollongong, to the striking stone structures around Kiama, there is a wealth of natural variety to photograph, all changing constantly with the tides and clouds. Plus, we even have the world's whitest sand just down the road at Jervis Bay.

Outside of that, the great thing about photography (and landscape photography, in particular), is that it encourages you to get out explore completely new locations. My love of travel has in part been fuelled by my love of photography. Always eager to scout new locations, both locally and abroad, in the hunt for new scenes to be captured.

Q Any advice for aspiring photographers?

Keep practicing, and take another photo. The more, the better. And with the luxury of digital photography, there's no excuse not to.

As they say, practice makes perfect. Right?

I know it's been said an untold amount of times before, but that just might mean it has some merit to it.

But it's not just any type of practice. Rather, what is known as deliberate practice - practice which is purposeful and thoughtful. To master photography - or anything for that matter - it's not just the quantity of practice, but the quality of it too.

How have I applied that to my photography? Learning. Application. Review. Repeat.

  • Learning - This aspect involves discovering what you want your images to look like, and then learning the particular approach on how to achieve it. If you don't know where to start, ask your photography heroes how they achieved a certain look or watch a YouTube tutorial on the new style of photographer you're eager to try.
  • Application - After you know what and how you want to accomplish, it's vital to get out and put the theory into practice. All talk and no action does not a master photographer make. So, get out on location, make your way to the studio, and put the new techniques to use.
  • Review - It's one thing to try new approaches for the sake of newness, but it's something completely different to try something better. It's not just about the courage of giving something novel a go, but having the humility to then review your work, seek feedback, and take any (constructive) criticism fully on board. 
  • Repeat - Finally, after you've reviewed the execution of your new approach, it's time to start all over again. Time to take on board what you've learnt, and apply it the next time you go shoot. For next time, you'll be that much more knowledgeable, that much more wiser. And it will show in the quality of your work.

While practice may not guarantee perfection. It'll allow you to get pretty darn close. 

And, if you have any other questions for me, feel free to share them below!