Ian Plant is a 44-year-old nature and landscape photographer who currently resides in Minneapolis, MN.
As a frequent contributor to some of the world’s leading photography magazines, including; Outdoor Photographer, Popular Photography and Landscape Photography Magazine, Ian took time out of his busy schedule to chat with Nomads on the Road about the great outdoors, what influences his photography and his minimalist post processing philosophy.
Ian, like our previous two interviewees Kyle Hamilton and Jeff Bartlett, was a relative latecomer to the photographer game, his first memory of picking up a camera was in his early twenties as he backpacked in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. Having spent most of his youth in the outdoors, as an avid hiker, backpacker and climber, it was a logical progression for Ian to focus on landscape and nature photography.
“I spent most of my young adult years backpacking and climbing in those mountains, so when I bought my first camera, I brought it along to take snapshots of the places I visited.
“I took a lot of really bad photos in those days, but I was instantly hooked on photography,” Ian admits.
Photography as art…
For Ian, photography is about showing people something they haven’t seen before, a hidden side of the world around us. This connection to reality, Ian contends, is important to the photographic process. Yet reality can be artistically transformed through the creative use of lenses, filters, perspective, composition and technical choices with regards to aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
Ian said: “The photographer can transform the subject through a creative and selective choice of the moment the photograph is created.
“In a sense photography is really the process of editing the world around us, distilling it to a meaningful and compelling sliver of the overall reality to present to the viewer.”
“Moment is very important to me and is the very essence of photography.”
Ian Plant photographer interview
Connecting with your subject…
Ian is always looking to capture moments when light, composition, and mood come together. For this reason, Ian says that it hard to pick a favourite photograph as every place and every moment is different and has its own beauty and power.
As a photographer you may think to connect with your subject is reserved for portrait or wedding photographers but Ian believes the key to creating a moving photograph is slowing down and immersing himself in the subject, whether that is people, wildlife or the land.
“Time, observation, empathy – and above all, patience – are all required to really connect with a subject and capture its essence.
“Photography is like assembling a puzzle; it takes time before you figure out how the pieces all fit together. Almost always, my best photographs aren’t the ones I make at first. The best ones occur when I have worked my subject as much as possible, often past the point where I’ve gotten bored and ready to move.
“I push myself in those moments to keep on trying because I know the solution to the puzzle may be right around the corner,” Ian said.
In the field…
Researching a location is certainly easier thanks to the internet and this allows Ian to get a feel for the place.
“I don’t want to look too much at other people’s images because I don’t want my personal vision influenced by what others are doing, but I try to at least get a general idea of what to expect.
“After that, it’s all boots on the ground; I explore the area the area as much as possible, trying to find interesting subjects. Once I am on location, I tend to forget planning and just go with the flow, spending as much time in the field and watching the flow of reality around me, waiting for a moment when the randomness of our world spontaneously converges into something artistically meaningful (with a little bit of help from my artistic choices, of course).” Ian concludes.
Once the field work is complete it is time to take the images into the digital darkroom. All photographers do some form of post-processing, even the old school film photographers do. Yet Ian believes the advent of the digital age has seen some photographer morph more into graphic designers than photographers.
“I tend to post-process with a light touch,” says Ian while he explains there is a trend, especially among landscape photographers, to go too far in their photoshop work.
“There is a growing trend to engage in extensive, even ridiculous, levels of image manipulation in Photoshop, turning rather ordinary photographs into something ‘magical’ using computer wizardry, too often made without any disclosure to the public.
“I do not belong to this trend. I consider myself a photographer, not a graphic artist, and as such I rely on field technique (and a lot of patience) to capture stunning moments and light. There’s nothing wrong with being a graphic artist, of course, but for me personally, I believe the magic is found out there, not sitting in front of a computer,” said Ian.
You can follow Ian’s adventures at the following:
Ian has also appeared at B&H’s flagship store in New York City where he gave an excellent presentation called Visual Flow: Mastering the Art of Composition. This presentation is well worth a watch as Ian explains the philosophy behind his photography and how creative compositions can change a photograph.