Meet one of our incredible instructors, David! He teaches Lightroom 101 here at GTA Photography Classes! David is a conservation photojournalist who mainly focuses on the relationship between people and the planet. His powerful photos urge us to protect our Earth!
We asked David to tell us a little more about his passion for photography and here’s what he had to say!
When and how did you fall in love with photography?
Photography came pretty late for me. It started as a hobby in my early twenties, and as a way for me to document and share my travels and outdoor adventures. The more I photographed, the more I wanted to know how to take better photos and I started taking some courses at Sheridan College. But it wasn’t until I started a post-graduate program here in Toronto, called Environmental Visual Communication, that I really fell in love with photography. It was the first time I realized how I could use the camera to inform and bring understanding to the issues and stories that I was passionate about, namely the environment, conservation and science. I haven’t put down the camera since.
How would you define your photography style?
I think my style is very much in line with the documentary approach and aesthetic. I try to create images that are true-to-life, honest and that tell a story. Perspective is very important to me, and I look for interesting ways to bring the viewer into the world of my subject or story. In many ways, I think that I am still discovering my style. But my goal is to create imagery that offers people, in a fast-paced, visually overloaded world, a moment to think, to react, to feel – and that’s a continual work in progress.
What was your most memorable photoshoot or photograph?
This past summer, I was part of a twelve-day expedition to Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), led by the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). Recently, the Refuge was opened up for oil and gas exploration, and the goal of our expedition was to bring back stories and images to help urge for its protection. In particular, we were there trying to document the porcupine caribou that migrate through the refuge in the tens of thousands…and we didn’t end up intercepting them until our very last, rainy day. For me, it was one of the most challenging endeavors I’ve undertaken – physically, mentally and photographically. And that’s why it’s memorable for me.
Which piece of gear (lens, tripod etc.) is your favourite?
My DJI Mavic drone. I love the aerial perspective that the drone allows me to capture, and this perspective definitely adds another dimension to my stories. When you get that high up, it makes things seem so small, and so many patterns and symmetries emerge. It’s also just loads of fun.
What’s your next photography purchase?
A remote camera trail monitor & sensor. I’m working right now to build a camera trap system, which will allow me to take images of animals in the wild without me being there. When an animal crosses the trail sensor, it signals to the camera and flash to take a picture. It’s been an interesting DIY project so far, but I’m excited to get it up and running.
What advice would you give to amateur photographers?
Photography is a journey; even the best photographers with years of experience are constantly learning. Embrace that! There are also so many resources out there to learn photography, which is great, but it can also be overwhelming. Start small, focus on what you are most interested in, and build from there. Finally, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that it takes time to understand and see things like light, composition, and moment – and really, to just take a good photo. So, don’t be discouraged and keep shooting!
What do you love about working at GTA Photography Classes?
I find that there’s a great community here, from the students to the team and fellow instructors. I really enjoy passing on what I know and sharing my experience with others, and GTA provides a great space and the programs to do so.
Just so we can find out a bit more about the person behind the lens, could you tell us…
Who is your favourite photographer past or present? This is difficult, and I can’t say that I have one favourite photographer, because I’m inspired and am influenced by so many, and that number keeps growing! But, one of my favourite’s right now is Yukon-based conservation photographer, Peter Mather. He has captured some incredible, unique and really personable images of wildlife in the Canadian north and Alaska, and he has been a friend and inspiration in my early career.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Honestly, right here in Canada…although, I’d love to be out on the west coast. If not Canada, then Slovenia – I have relatives there, and its beautiful.
What’s your favourite movie? I have no idea, there are too many. Favourite movie I’ve seen lately though is Free Solo.
What would you do if you won the lottery? Pay off my student loans, support my family, buy a couple acres of land, invest a large chunk, and then use the rest to pursue my photography and conservation projects.
What’s your favourite hobby outside of photography? I love the outdoors, so probably any combination of hiking, camping and paddling.