When I first started the "Fine Michigan Photography Blog" one of my goals was to share other photographers work as well as my own. I thought a good way to do that would be to occasionally "profile" a Michigan photographer by asking them a few questions and sharing their responses along with some of their photographs. For the first 'Photographer Profile' I asked the very talented Neil Weaver if he would be interested and being the nice guy that he is, he kindly obliged. Neil has been photographing Michigan for 15 years now and has been an inspiration to many photographers, myself included. I hope you enjoy this first 'Photographer Profile' and the magnificent images by Neil Weaver, I'm certain you will. Thanks!
How did you first end up behind the camera?
NW: I’ve always loved art and even dabbled in photography in high school, but I discovered landscape and nature photography when I was twenty one years old. My parents had just moved to Pentwater from Sault Ste. Marie and at the end of that school year at LSSU(Lake Superior State University) I decided to spend the summer down there working. One night I borrowed my Mom’s 35mm film camera and headed to the pier for the sunset. I took some photographs of the lights on both piers, and when I developed them I liked what I saw. It wasn’t long after that when I purchased a Canon Rebel SLR camera and began shooting the area’s lighthouses and beautiful beaches.
Do you have a favorite Michigan location to create photographs?
NW: It’s difficult choosing just one but I’d have to go with the Munising/Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore area. So much to photograph there - the many photogenic waterfalls and stunning cliffs that tower over the lakeshore. The beautiful beaches - Miner’s, Mosquito, Chapel, and Sand Point. A stay in Munising gives a photographer a lot of options.
Why do you love photographing Michigan?
NW: My love for Michigan and the Great Lakes goes back to my childhood. My parents loved the outdoors and would take my sisters and I on day trips to places like Point Iroquois Lighthouse, Cut River Bridge and the Huron shore near Cedarville. When I’m photographing all of these beautiful places in Michigan I feel like I'm not just there visiting but I’m truly experiencing them, and now I can share my impressions of each location with an audience.
What is your favorite season to shoot?
NW: I love to shoot in the fall. To me there’s nothing more beautiful than the explosion of reds, oranges and yellows at places like Tahquamenon Falls, Lake of the Clouds, or Brockway Mountain. The season has a pretty short window before the leaves drop which makes it even more special to me.
What photographers have influenced you or inspired you the most?
NW:There are a few but Todd and Brad Reed were my biggest influences from the beginning. During those couple of summers I spent in Pentwater, I would head up to Ludington and look around in their gallery. Viewing their work has always been inspiring. It really got me excited to photograph the natural world around me and view it photographically. Todd and Brad were always very kind and answered any questions I had, and I am really grateful for that.
With such great compositions and clearly an excellent knowledge of all that goes into creating a strong image, you must have attended school to advance your photographic talents, right?
NW: I never studied photography in school, in fact I’ve never even taken a class or attended a workshop. I learned through reading books on composition, exposure and light. But overall, it comes mostly through practice, learning from my many mistakes along the way.
Are there any photography books in particular that you currently like to reference(photographers always have at least one book dogeared!)?
NW:The last few books I’ve read are 'Visual Flow' by Ian Plant, 'Mountain Light' by Galen Rowell and 'Nightscape' by David Kingham.
How do you feel about the relatively new influence social media has had on photography and what do you feel may be a positive and negative aspect of social media?
NW:I like it for the most part. I don’t know if social media has made me a better photographer or not but I’m viewing much more photography each day which can be inspiring. I have met a lot of other photographers through social media, some really cool people that I enjoy talking shop with. Some of them I have met in person and since then have become good friends with.
Another reason I like it is because it has been instrumental in growing my business. A pretty significant amount of my sales have come through Facebook and I always enjoy the enthusiasm of my page followers.
On the negative side, early on there would be occasions where I would find myself photographing subjects and I’d catch myself thinking “I hope this gets a good response on Facebook.” It didn’t take long to realize that I wasn’t enjoying photography the way I used to. I learned that I needed to do this for myself, concentrate on shooting only what inspires me, and everything will fall into place.
And finally, what everyone really wants to know - what's in your bag?
Nikon D300 (backup body)
Nikon 18-35mm AF-S
Nikon 24-70mm AF-S f/2.8
Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8
Rokinon 14mm f/2.8
Gitzo 3532LS legs
Arca Swiss Z1 Monoball Head
B+W CPL & UV filters
Lee and Singh Ray GND filters
Lowepro AW500 bag
I would like to thank Neil for being kind enough to be the first photographer in the 'Photographer Profile' blog series. I would also like thank everyone for reading this post! If you're not already following Neil on the popular social media sites be sure to click the following links to check him out on Facebook, Google +, Instagram and Twitter. After seeing just a sampling of his great work, feel free to head to www.NeilWeaverPhotography.com and order some of his fine photos! Thanks again!
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