- Hi Chad, it's a pleasure to talk about photography with you! Gear first: what's inside your bags?
Hi guys. Thanks for having me! So in my Lowepro Protastic 450 AW bag, I house a Canon 5D Mark IV with three lenses: a Canon EF 24-70mm F/2.8L USM, a Canon EF 70-200mm F/4.0L USM, and a Samyang 14mm F/2.8. Alongside this, I have my trusty DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone to get my aerial shots, and I stabilise my handheld camera on a Manfrotto tripod. I use PolarPro filters for my Canon lenses and their cinema series filters for my drone. On top of all of that, I carry an Asus UX430U Notebook for editing on the move, running the full Adobe editing software and backing everything up on two WD 4TB hard drives and Dropbox. My gear bag weighs a total of about 9kg, though I can’t afford to make it any lighter.
Rockingham, Western Australia
- What's your background? Is photography your full-time job? How did you approach photography and how did you learn?
I actually have a bachelor’s degree in Construction Management and Economics and a master’s degree in Building Information Modelling, but I left the construction industry at the start of 2019 to pursue a full-time career in photography and videography. With twenty years of creative experience, as an avid musician, it felt natural for me to create while travelling, rather than solely travel, so I bought my first camera in 2018 when I visited Hang En, Vietnam, the third largest cave in the world, and my passion for creating images and videos while travelling developed from there. As for how I learnt, I am still learning. Though, like most things, it’s all about practice... and even more practice. And YouTube, of course!
Hang En Cave, Vietnam
- We read on your Instagram feed you are travelling for 2 years across all 7 continents. It must be such an unforgettable experience. In which way travelling affects your style of photography? Do you think travelling speeds up the learning process when it comes to photography?
It is and has been an amazing experience for sure! Growing up, pretty much all my savings went into exploring the world; it’s taught me so much. Travelling significantly affects the types of photos I take. I’ve had to leap out of my comfort zone and shoot cities and the Milky Way, and I’ve had to use different techniques, like long exposure and 50-50 dome compositions, and tools, like tripods and gimbals. As for speeding up the learning process, of course. I had to adapt to new climates like snow in Switzerland, desert in the Sahara, and jungle in Borneo, because if I didn’t then I was wasting time and money.
- What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
Perspective is everything. You can be in the same spot as the best photographer in the world and fail to produce a shot as good as theirs. What makes them the best photographer is their understanding of image composition, and their ability to find unique angles.
Ouarzazat, Ouarzazate, Morocco
- What is your favourite photo so far?
My shot of the hot air balloons at sunrise in Cappadocia, Turkey, because I wanted to capture the ascension of hundreds of hot air balloons into the orange-pink sky, and I did. There is a bit of a story to it. I arrived at my accommodation, in Cappadocia, and learnt that the balloons hadn’t left the ground for the previous five days, so I was a tad worried that my two-night stay wouldn’t suffice. On the first two mornings, there wasn’t a balloon in sight, and, quite frankly, the sky didn’t look too fabulous either. So I spent the whole day with my nerves, trying to enjoy the town and prepare for another failed morning. Then came the moment of truth. Waking the following day at the crack of dawn and saying a little prayer, I opened the front door to see over one hundred balloons lifting into the most lens-shatteringly beautiful sky I have ever seen! I grabbed my camera, changed the settings to a shutter speed of 1/320 sec, aperture to F/4.0, and ISO of 100, and took the shot.
- Do you think gear matters in travel photography?
Which setup would you recommend to someone who is just starting out?
Honestly, not as much as some might think. When travelling, I think the most important thing is to cover your bases and get gear that will help you adapt to your surroundings. Yes, expensive gear can produce higher quality work, but people are first attracted to the composition of a shot, rather than how many pixels it has. I’m a little bias, but I’d get a Canon 700D with a 24-70mm lens for handheld shots, or, if I wanted to take aerial shots, a DJI Spark. And remember, it's even cheaper to buy secondhand!
- Let's talk about astrophotography. The picture you have shared recently from the Sahara Desert is otherworldly. What are your tips to take a good photo of the stars?
YouTube is a great tool for learning astrophotography, and patience is paramount. I sat in the desert for two hours to get that shot; it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I wanted to make sure I got it just right. Once you understand what settings you need, it's most important to find an interesting subject to place at the base of the image and to get away from light sources, like the lights of a city or the moon. Never shoot when there’s a full moon!
Sahara Desert, Morocco
- What's the most photogenic country you have been to? And why?
The United States, as the climate and landscape of each state is completely different. There are deep desert canyons, snowy ranges, crystalline beaches, arcane forests, and more. I recommend hiring a car to see them all.
- What would be some tips you would give to a beginning photographer?
My advice would be to be patient, shoot in the right light, like sunrise and sunset, and find a unique perspective that others haven’t got because that will help you stand out. Honestly, be prepared to suffer sometimes. It will only make you stronger. One of my biggest learning curves came when I almost lost a toe to frostbite, and another came when I was sitting in a thunderstorm asking my waterproof bag if it was really waterproof. Lastly, back your stuff up on as many devices and clouds as you can. You don't want to suffer for your own laziness.
Kuang Si Falls
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years as a photographer?
This is tricky because just based on the past year of work, my goals are everchanging. But if I had to take a stab in the dark, I would like to see myself as a successful tourism photographer working for various tourism boards around the world. My ultimate goal would be to create a portfolio that allows me to continue on this journey well into the future utilising my skill set and creative ability as a photographer and videographer. As long as I'm able to support myself and work towards that, I'd be happy.
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Follow Chad at: @chad_gerber
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