Today I had the pleasure of interviewing James Elliott, a photographer based in Greenwood, South Carolina. His unique approach to photography always captures a great deal of attention on our photo network and many have inquired about his techniques.
How would you describe your photographic style?
Hmm, this is hard for me to describe. I like to shoot mostly anything. I like the challenge of going from shooting landscape one day to close up the next and dabbling in portraiture the day after. I love bokeh, and great use of color. So in a lot of my photographs you’ll see very vibrant colors and a lot of bokeh. I like to single out my subject from its surroundings to give it its own world to occupy. A lot of times this can give a whole new look to something that’s rather mundane or something we’re used to. To me that’s what i love most about photography – looking at the world in new ways.
How did you first get into photography?
I was always interested in photography and enjoyed looking at photographs but never thought of myself doing it. My girlfriend’s father has been a huge inspiration for me. He gave me book by National Geographic that gave a behind the scenes look of photographer’s and their work. The book really intrigued me, and sparked the idea that maybe I could be a photographer too. After reading the book I searched all over the web for more articles on photography and looked at more artist’s work – I was pretty much hooked. I got my first DSLR in 2009 and since then on I’ve been taking pictures.
Where do find creative inspiration?
Most of my inspiration comes from anything that stands out to me. I can take a short walk around my house and find something new to photograph everyday. I’m inspired by the little things that we seem to miss in our day to day activity. I’m inspired by beautiful moments or stories. I’m also inspired by other artist work; One of these days I’ll take a Landscape shot as breathtaking as Ansel Adams.
What is typically in your camera bag?
Good question! I just bought a new camera backpack recently. I use a Nikon D3000 – I am looking to upgrade though, as soon as I save up. I have 3 lenses; The Nikon 18-55mm kit lens, a Nikon 50mm prime, and a Sigma 70-300mm Macro/Telephoto. I also have a bunch of filters, a cheap-flimsy tripod in dire need of replacement, battery pack with two extra batteries, and a few other nick-knacks.
What are you looking forward to purchasing next?
The next thing I’m looking to buy is probably a new camera body. My D3000 isn’t bad by any means, but I want something that packs a bit more punch and is a bit more durable. I really want a D300 – so I need to start saving. My tripod is also in need of replacement. I’m also in the market for a few new lenses, maybe something in the Macro department.
Did you have any formal training in photography?
Other than reading a few books and some articles online I’ve had no formal training. When I got my camera it was more or less trial by fire, which is arguably the best way to learn. PictureSocial and PictureCorrect have really helped me progress. There’s so much you can learn from both sites – I really love them. I’ve recently taken a few classes at a local college but I enrolled in those to learn the business side of photography and to pick up a few new challenges.
Do you post-process your photos?
I process all of my photos – but only to small degree. I like to keep my editing to a minimal, therefore I try to stay away from Photoshop as much as possible. I like to keep my photos looking natural and usually only bump up the colors and contrast. Cameras can’t capture the same amount of color and contrast as the eye, so Post-Processing is a must to really recreate a scene. I recently posted a blog that details my post-processing techniques and takes you from the in-camera image to the final product.
What has been your favorite photo location?
There’s a river in a nearby town that led me to a really great series of work, I’m thinking of going back soon. I also have done a number of shots in Charleston, SC and really enjoyed it there. There’s a mountain upstate with a great selection of waterfalls that I’ve been wanting to photograph for the longest time but haven’t gotten the chance. It’s a beast of a hike, so you’ve really got to be determined to go. I actually made the trip up once but got rained out. I only managed to get one photo of the falls but it was from far away. The photo is called “Hidden Oasis”. I’ll definitely be going back there this summer.
What lies ahead for you?
I just want to keep shooting and keep improving. I’d like to publish a coffee table book one day. Right now I’m working on two series, one based on the 7 Deadly Sins and another based on the music of one of my favorite Musicians Jay-Z. I just want to create my best possible work. I want my work to really connect to audiences and tell great stories – this is something I’m really focused on at the moment.
What tips or advice do you have for other aspiring photographers?
The most important advice I’d give is to just have fun with it. Make your work your own and really try to capture the moments. The possibilities with photography are endless so get out there and find them.
To see more of James’ work, visit his profile or photo gallery.
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