Travel Photography Live Exhibition + Talk by Andy Rouse

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Had a fantastic evening yesterday attending an evening talk at the Royal Geographical Society in London. It was the first event of Travel Photography Live. There was an exhibition of last year’s Travel Photographer of the Year Competition with some truly stunning images.

The highlight, however, was a talk from Andy Rouse, a world renowned wildlife photographer who took the time to really go into the ins and outs of his photographer mind. He showed us a fantastic portfolio of work and was an entertaining as well as down to earth and honest.

My take-away points:

  • Connection – your photos must have connection, this means eye contact and getting down to the level of the animal
  • Be different – don’t take the same photo as everyone else, photo editors look for a fresh perspective
  • There’s a trade off between art and business. A truly breathtaking artistic shot may not sell at all compared with a commercial picture perfect for greeting cards. His example was a fisheye photo of a polar bear on an ice float (apparently fisheye photos don’t work well in magazines. But, a simple portrait of a robin has earnt him enough to buy a car.
  • Andy Rouse loves backlight silhouettes – his tips include angling the lens hood downwards, making sure the sun is low enough to get a golden outline around your subject and not shooting directly into the sun but taking a step to the sides and angling 15-20 degrees.
  • Rain can add a different dimension to what would otherwise be cliched scenes.
  • Bump up ISO so that you can increase shutter speed to catch action shots, and don’t worry about noise, sharpness is all that matters
  • Move the autofocus point to exactly where you want (he always positions it between the eyes of the animal) as the camera is no good at picking the right spot and will just aim for something large or an area with the greatest contrast.
  • Treat photography like a business and diversify as it’s getting tougher to earn a living – he publishes books, does photography tours abroad, lectures, etc…

This is really the first talk on photography I’ve ever been to and found it a very interesting and good value evening. For 25 pounds you get discounted drinks, a look at the exhibition without the usual crowds, a talk from a world renowned photographer and then an interview with the man giving an insight into how he started out and where he thinks photography is going.

Most importantly of all, it really has given me the drive to just get out there and shoot and enter competitions.

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