Social media, photography and internet. Bruce Levick knows about all these subjects and on this interview he shares with you all his experiences: from his motivation, what inspires him and his favorite DSLR brand, all the way to his time working with Steve Irwin aka the Crocodile Hunter.
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1. Tell us a little bit about you.
Well I graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Arts in 1994. I’ve always had a background in art and design. My main focus was always fine art/illustration and then design. Not long after graduating I turned to designing websites and have been doing that professionally since 1997. In recent years I have switched back to focusing on my art through photography. I’ve always had a passion for photography but just never took that step. Now I am hoping to make that a permanent switch.
2. What you would say, are you a photographer, a social media expert or a web designer?
I hate to put a title on what I do. If anything I would probably call myself an artist. I have designed and developed websites for 15 years now and everything related to that has come from that profession. Specifically social media experience. Regardless of whether it’s a website, a painting or a photograph, I always approach things from a creative perspective. Creativity is something that has always just come naturally from a very early age. For the last 4-5 years my creativity focus has switched to photography/videography and I can see myself doing that for a long time to come.
3. What sparked your interest in photography?
I’ve always had a soft spot for unique images. First it was with illustration and then that passion turned to photography. Ever since my BVA in 1994 I’ve always had a camera on me, trying to take unique and interesting photos. But it wasn’t until 2007 not long after the first digital and affordable DSLR cameras that I decided to turn it into something more.
4. Nikon, Canon or neither?
For me personally it’s Nikon. But you can’t go wrong with either. Just know that once you make the choice it is an expensive move to change.
5. Social media and photography. How do you make them match to leverage each other?
There seems to be a natural match between photography and social media. These days everybody wants to share their photos and the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and the many mobile applications are making that so simple to do. The other aspect of photography and social media is the gap has now been bridged to gain access to the superstars of Photography. Now a simple tweet can get you in touch with someone at the top of your field where in the past that wasn’t so accessible.
6. Some people say Google+ is causing a revolution among photographers, what do you think about it?
It certainly seems to be. I personally love Google+. It’s another step towards bridging that gap between photographers far and wide. I think that Google Hangout has been a revolution as photographers from all over the world can hang out live on video and exchange thoughts and ideas. It’s certainly a social network that seems to naturally suit the photography community.
7. What is your favourite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?
Definitely my Wacom tablet. I couldn’t accurately edit and process my photos half as well without it.
8. What gives you ideas and inspires you to create your landscaping photography?
With landscape photography there are two aspects that really drive me. One is the challenge to take photos of a place or something that has been photographed many thousands of times and creating something unique, never been seen or another perspective. The other is to create an image so when people look at it they can almost escape from reality for a little while. Almost like its another world. I like to create an image that is worth a second look, something people can’t look away from.
9. Tell us a little about the creative process of “Solitude”.
Solitude was taken at a place called Lake Mungo, a place with a lot of cultural history that is located 9 hours west of Sydney in the Australian Outback. I first saw this location in an Australian movie about 2 years ago and made the decision that I would photograph that location and set the goal. Specifically they call the location Walls of China, named by the early settlers. It’s where the clay from the dry lake bed has been swept up by the wind and formed these magnificent natural sculptures. I arrived at this location early in the day and spent the entire day photographing the area waiting for the time that the sun started to go down. As the sun went down I moved through the walls finding the right composition. I decided early on that using HDR would be my best method of capturing the magnificent colors as the sun was setting. It wasn’t until afterwards when processing the HDR images that I realized I had one of the best landscape shots I had ever taken and it all started 2 years earlier.
10. Please, tell us about Cambodia, how did your photography help to save the endangered Siamese Crocodiles.
One of my passions with photography now has become to try to capture unique situations/cultures or people and create some awareness around that depending on the situation. With the Siamese Crocodiles this is a classic situation of large organizations destroying critical habitat in the jungles of Cambodia with seemingly no regard for the impact on the environment. I initially self funded my involvement around documenting this work and managed to create a social media campaign around my photography as it was happening in the jungles of Cambodia. Each day I would upload videos or photos from deep in the jungles. I find that social media campaigns have more impact if they are delivered in real time and that was my goal and it seemed to work well with the organizations involved.
11. What were some real turning points in your career?
It’s hard to put a finger on any one turning point. One big one would have to be landing a job working with the late and great Steve Irwin (aka The Crocodile Hunter). I worked with Steve Irwin closely for two years before his untimely death. His passion and attitude towards life really rubbed off on me and when he sadly passed away I wanted to make sure I held onto those traits. Now because if that I am doing a lot of things that normally I wouldn’t. He has helped me lose fear of a lot of things.
12. What is your favourite of your photography related e-books?
None really. But I get most satisfaction or feedback from my D90 eBook, as it helps people who are entering the DSLR world for the first time to tackle time-lapse photography, which is something that is not built into the Nikon D90.
13. Which one is the photo that reminds you of the best moment as a photographer and why?
It’s hard to pick one. But one that does come to mind is a photo from my visit to Tanzania (Tanzania – Godwin’s School). This trip holds a special place in my heart as it involved visiting a family that I had brought to Australia the previous year. A family that had never left Tanzania. I hosted them in Australia and simply fell in love with them and the humble nature that they expressed. I made a pact to visit and I did. This particular photo was taken at the school of Godwin’s (young boy in the family) in Tanzania. I visited delivering gifts for the school and they invited me to attend their school parade where I greeted them in broken Swahili. They responded by asking me if they could all come to Australia (about 150 kids). The photo is of the school band as they marched past me. It’s the pure moment that does it for me and the sheer happiness on these kids faces who have next to nothing but are the happiest people in the world.
14. The first photographer that comes to your mind and why?
Chase Jarvis. Undoubtedly gave me the inspiration, the courage and the vision to take things to the next level. He is someone every aspiring photographer needs to follow.
15. What advice do you have for individuals interested in pursuing a career in photography?
Try to be unique. Don’t recreate great images but create your own and try to inspire people that way. Be diverse as this day and age it’s hard to make a living off one form of photography so try and diversify your skill set. Importantly don’t focus all your energy on making money. Try to switch between commercial jobs and personal projects. For me personal projects are satisfying and more rewarding.
If you enjoyed this interview you may also want to read the interview we had with the artist and photographer Ben Heine.
What do you think? Do you want to ask Bruce something? Please use the comments section!