All of us are born “Camera Stupid.” I remember a few of the road trips my family took me on when I was a young boy. I remember the feeling of awe when looking out over an overlook at the incredible vastness, richness, and detail this Earth provides us. I remember having the desire to capture and save those moments forever. At the time photography for me was just something fun to do. A way to look back and remember the fun times we had.
I had no idea how to get the camera to take a photo that more closely matched what my eye saw. I had no awareness of the vast world of commercial photography. Yup, just like everyone, I was born “Camera Stupid.”
That slowly started to change when the various people in my life started teaching me about photography.
Here are the Top 10 Influential Photographers Who Inspire Me the Most
1. Wendell Richardson (Dad)
Dad is still a great photographer and his most photographed subjects these days are probably the grandkids. Dad took roll upon roll of 35mm color slide film before digital cameras came along. On family night, he’d get out the slide projector and we’d relive family vacations and camping trips in vivid color. It was my dad that first let me use his camera and provided basic guidance for getting a decent exposure. Some of my favorite photographs he took while serving a church mission in New York.
2. Darren Clark
One of my minors in college was photography. Darren was my first photography professor and he really did a lot to encourage us to get past the cliche photography student shots and push ourselves to make great images. He didn’t give “A – Grades” easily or often. He wasn’t afraid to call out a student who had just taken the easy way out. I remember how excited I was to finally submit an image that he felt was worthy of an “A.” Darren stressed the importance of presentation and required that all of our photo assignments be mounted. It was truly a pleasure to learn more about photography from his classes.
My favorite series of photographs from Darren is his “Eastern Idaho Architecture” series.
Brian was my other photography professor in college and taught me a lot about the history of photography. I gained an appreciation for the many photographers that shaped the history of photography and the ridiculously difficult processes they had to go through to capture and reproduce an image. For me, Brian’s most memorable body of work is his US 89 Canada – Mexico series where he stopped every mile along that route and made a photograph in that location. Talk about dedication!
4. Monte Stiles
Monte is the father-in-law of my best college friend, Andrew. Andrew introduced me to Monte’s work and I was blown away at his wildlife portfolio. I couldn’t understand (and still can’t) the patience required to get such great shots of animals in the wild. Monte is also a talented motivational speaker.
5. Steven Hatch
I have only known Steven for less than a year, but he has already taught me valuable techniques in studio product photography. Steven has a deep knowledge of off camera flash and knows how to experiment and keep working at a shot until the desired results are captured. He’s a wizard when it comes to photoshop manipulations and has a fun and whimsical style.
6. Joel Grimes
I only discovered Joel’s work in the last year or so and I don’t know him personally, but I was extremely impressed with how down to earth he is. I’ve watched a few of his workshops on kelbyone.com. If you met him on the street, you’d never be able to guess that he’s a world famous photographer. As commercial photography budgets shrank during the economic downturn, Joel found a way to innovate with his elaborate composite images. He’s a good example of humility in an industry often built on ego.
7. Josh Rossi
Josh is another talented photographer and composite artist. I especially love the stories his images tell. Josh has some impressive commercial clients in his portfolio such as Adobe and Acura. Josh produces a podcast where he interviews a successful Full Time Photographer 5 days a week. The podcast is chuck full of practical, useful advice for photographers looking to make a career out of photography. I love the podcast because it allows aspiring photographers to hear about all the hard work and struggle it takes to be successful from those that have actually done it.
Josh worked with a well known photographer in our area named Travis Gugelman and just recently purchased the name and studio. For over 10 years Gugleman Photography has been the Premiere photography studio in our area. They specialize in weddings, portraits and families, but some of my favorite work is in Josh’s fashion portfolio.
Eric Cheng is an award-winning underwater photographer and publisher of WetPixel, the premiere online community for underwater photographers. I first discovered his work through my interest in aerial photography. Eric now works for DJI (makers of quadcopters for aerial imaging) and publishes a blog at SkyPixel with excellent information on the topic.
10. Jim Harmer
Jim is a fellow Idahoan and runs the excellent photography website Improve Photography. It was actually Jim who made me realize the joy in helping others discover, learn, and master photography principles. Yup – Jim inspired me to start the Camera Stupid website. Jim is a master teacher. You can tell he loves to share the knowledge he’s gained. He has a way of breaking down complicated or confusing information into easy to understand chunks. I highly recommend you subscribe to his podcast. (Jim if you’re reading this, I’d really appreciate the shoutout.) 🙂
Now it’s Your Turn
Leave a comment on this post listing the photographer(s) in your life that most inspire you to do better in photography!