Featured Photographer, September 2021: Lazar Gintchin
We are happy to have Lazar Gintchin as our featured guest photographer this month. We appreciate that he gave us some of his time and generously shared his beautiful photography with us! Please visit his links to see more of his work, and to let him know you enjoyed this interview.
:: How did you get your start with photography?
I have been drawn to nature and photography since I was a child, back in the day of film cameras. However, in 2009 my family and I took a week long road trip through the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, to see the fall colors. That is when I started to get serious about landscape photography.
:: With the availability of quality gear now and processing ability, what separates good photographers these days?
There is no doubt that the world is full of talented photographers. It is also true that cameras, both DSLR and in smartphones, have come a very long way. However, I believe the good photographers are separated by their compositions and post-processing skills. Anyone can buy a good camera and take pictures, but not everyone pays the same attention to detail when it comes to composing and capturing their image. Anyone can learn how to use Photoshop and manipulate an image, but not everyone knows how much to adjust each dial. It is easy to overprocess and knowing when to stop is a skill on its own. Post processing is a form of artistry itself. Overall, I believe that the more serious photographers put extra effort into the fine details of an image.
:: Seeing how everyone on the planet has an IG account and posts photos from all over the world…. Does photography still have the same draw?
It depends on who you ask. Yes, the internet is flooded with beautiful nature images and there is no shortage of people who constantly flip through them to satisfy a never ending appetite of visual stimulation and curiosity. In my mind what has changed is the level of appreciation and level of attention. The constant flood of new visual content I believe has created an audience hungry for more. It has also created an audience who rarely stops to admire what they see. Most "art consumption" on social media is short-lived and quickly forgotten in the constant pursuit to see the next thing.
:: What is your opinion on social media? If you could make a couple changes to these platforms what would it be?
I have mixed feelings. On one hand they have opened doors for many and have created exposure channels for people in ways that were impossible in the past. On the other hand they have become gigantic oceans of content where an individual gets lost. Thus making it harder for an artist to stand out. I am not sure what I would change if I could. I am not so sure that the problem is with the platforms themselves as much as it is inside our human nature. We thrive on attention and appreciation from others and that is what fuels the constant flood of content. In my mind the social media platforms only reveal what is in our hearts. However, this is just my opinion as I am not a social media expert.
:: What is your favorite piece of non-photographic gear?
Probably my sunglasses. I rarely go outside without them :-).
:: What is it about the fine art world of photography that drew you in, and specifically the panoramic cropping?
Every time I am out in nature I am drawn to beautiful landscapes, light, and places in general. Whenever I witness any of them I feel compelled to capture that momentary view, which often is gone in minutes, and sometimes seconds. For me, photography allows for the capturing and preservation of those beautiful moments, which can later be shared with others. As far as the panoramic format, I just find it more visually appealing. Outdoor scenes are often wide. Using the 1x3 aspect ratio allows me to capture the natural work as I see it in real life.
:: What makes your vision and style stand out?
The panoramic style is definitely one of them. With the vast numbers of good photographers out there, I am still surprised how few choose to shoot panoramas. Also, my panoramic shots are strictly 1x3 ratio. Of the few photographers who shoot panoramic style, many of them use a free form panoramic aspect ratio, which varies from image to image. I don't do that. The second aspect of my photography that is unique is the diversity of images in my portfolio. I don't want anyone to look at my collections and feel as if all my images look like each other. My goal is to shoot various landscapes and styles, as I have appreciation for all. If you look through my galleries you will see what I mean.
:: What is the scariest thing that has happened to you while out shooting?
I don't have any really scary stories to tell but I can recall a specific moment, which had me on edge and very concerned. It was during a night hike on the Vail ski slopes. I started climbing with my skis at 2:30am with the goal of being on top before sunrise. It was a moonless night and almost pitch-black. About halfway I had to cross a very wide area where several ski runs converged. The problem was that all the snowcats groom the runs at night and right at that time there were about 10 of them, maneuvering inside the wide area I needed to cross. Yes, they had powerful headlights but I also knew they did not expect a skier crossing their path in the middle of the night. Getting hit or caught by one of them would have been tragic. So I ended up crossing in small sections. I would wait for a clean opportunity and dash from one safe spot (usually trees) to the another. Then wait again and repeat the process until I was finally out of their way. Luckily nothing bad happened and I was soon on my way to witness a winter sunrise from 11,570 ft. /3,527 m. elevation.
:: Do you do any other genres of photography?
Although I have done some portrait and wedding photography for friends I only enjoy nature and landscape photography. So the answer would be, no.
:: What is still on your bucket list for shooting?
The list can be endless. The world is full of majestic places and a lifetime is not enough to see them all. Nevertheless, some of the locations I hope to photograph in the near future are: Canada, Norway, Iceland, Italy, the Greek Islands, Bora Bora, and The Maldives.
:: How did the pandemic affect your photography?
It canceled my international travel plans. However, my family and I went on a 2 week road trip, through 6 different states, and that allowed me to photograph here in the USA.
:: If you could go back to the beginning of your photography journey what would you do differently?
I would slow down and enjoy the outdoor experiences more. There have been many times when I would literally exhaust myself, mentally and physically, on a photography trip. I would cover as much ground in a day as possible, taking as many pictures as possible. Nowadays I try to take it more easy and actually pause to enjoy what I am experiencing outdoors.
:: What do you see as the future for landscape photography, and what do you think needs to happen to make it a sustainable source of creativity and income?
It is hard to say, but one trend that I see is that it will no longer be just about photography anymore. The internet has more beautiful images and photographers than one has time to look at. As I also mentioned earlier, there is no shortage of great photographic talent out there. These two realities have created a world where it has only become harder to get noticed. In my opinion, those who will be able to create an income from photography will be those who are not only good photographers, but also willing to spend time in promoting themselves. That is what I mean by "it will no longer be just about photography anymore". It is sad because as artists we want to focus on the art itself. Creating art is what drives us. We don't get excited about promotion and marketing. Sadly however, those of us who hope to make photography more than a hobby have to become both good photographers and good marketers.
Every time I am out in nature I am drawn to beautiful landscapes, light, and places in general. Whenever I witness any of them I feel compelled to capture that momentary view, which often is gone in minutes, and sometimes seconds...
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