BPP 141: Mark Hemmings - Take Great Vacation Photos

Todays guest is Mark Hemmings. A professional travel photographer and educator who in the next 12 months is scheduled to visit 5 different continents. Today I’m excited to chat and find out how we can take better photos of our own travels!

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In This Episode You'll Learn:

  • How Mark got his unconventional start in photography

  • When Marks love of photography and travel merged

  • How to best prepare your camera gear for a trip you are excited for

  • How to avoid taking boring travel photos

  • How much gear you should bring with you on a trip

  • Tips to add more mood, feeling, and culture to your travel photography

  • Marks mobile editing workflow and how he travels and edits photos without a computer

  • Ways to best share your photos after editing them

  • Marks favorite location in the world to travel for photography


Look at the contrast how much is hidden in the shadows

Look at the contrast how much is hidden in the shadows

bamboo lined path way
waterfall though green brush cover
kid playing ball in streets with pink wall
young rabbi reading in crowded market

Did you enjoy this episode? Check out more recent interviews with other great guests!

Full Episode Transcription:

Disclaimer: The transcript was transcribed electronically and may contain errors that do not reflect accurately what the speaker said. Because of this, please do not quote this automated transcript.

Raymond: 00:00:00 Hey Raymond here from the beginning photography podcast. And today we're going to talk about taking better vacation photos. Perfect for spring break. Let's get into it.

Intro: 00:00:10 Welcome to the beginner photography podcast with Raymond Hatfield, the podcast dedicated to helping you grow your photography skills. Raymon interviews the world's top photographers in their field to ask questions that will get you taking better photos today. Now with you as always, husband, father, home brewer, La Dodger Fan, an Indianapolis wedding photographer, Raymond Hatfield.

Raymond: 00:00:38 Oh, welcome back. Welcome back. Each and every one of you. It is a, it's another day. It's another podcast. And I am super excited to be here today with you because today's interview is one that, uh, uh, I, I've got some feedback recently about the podcast and how there, there's often questions specifically about business. And today we're talking about vacation, we're talking about going out and we're talking about going to these locations where you've always wanted to and how to best prepare to take photos that are going to, uh, capture the memories and the stories that you tell. So today is gonna be a great episode, but first I want to, I want to, I want to talk about something. I got a a new review on iTunes and I'm really excited to share with you guys. So I want to give a shout out because this week the review comes from Risa who is not only in the Facebook group, but as you hear in her review, she is the premium members.

Raymond: 00:01:34 So she left her view. She said, uh, that the podcast is so helpful and it's not just for beginners. She said, I love the podcast. I started listening to it because I want him to learn more about photography and wow, have I listening to the interviews with photographers in all niches has inspired me and informed me. I'm also a member of the Patreon group, so I get the extra long episodes with advice oriented towards people who want to start or already have a photography business, which is super helpful. But if all you want to do is learn how to be a better photographer than the regular length episodes will definitely serve you well. Highly recommended. Reset. Thank you so much. That is so awesome. It's great to it is the one thing that I love about this podcast is that like it really does form a community.

Raymond: 00:02:21 Like I know you, we uh, you know, have interacted on Instagram and the Facebook group. Uh, so, so it was an honor to see that you left me a review and I really did appreciate it. If you're listening to the podcast and you want to leave me a review, I cannot tell you how grateful I would be if you just took a few seconds out of your day to leave a review. It doesn't have to be long. It doesn't have to be, you know, a, you know, several paragraphs. It doesn't have to be, this isn't some sort of college application. Just a few simple words. Let me know how the podcast is doing because honestly, as much as I love, uh, all the good reviews or great reviews, I should say that the podcast has, I also want it, I want to hear any sort of a feedback.

Raymond: 00:03:03 I really want to know what you think about the podcast so that I can make it better for you and all of the others. That's it. And you can do that, uh, with an iTunes. iTunes is definitely the best place to do it, but anywhere where you can leave a review for the podcast, uh, is, is so incredibly helpful. So thank you. All right, I'm going to keep this short. We're going to get into today's episode. It is, uh, with photographer mark Hemmings. And Mark is a really interesting dude as you are going to do here in this, uh, interview. I had a great time talking with him, uh, shared a lot of great ideas that I know you guys are gonna pick up on it and it's all about like going on vacation and, and capturing photos. And I ask a lot of questions that you guys want to know specifically.

Raymond: 00:03:47 You know, I know, uh, one that I hear often is how much you care. Should I actually bring on vacation? Some people were worried about it being stolen. Uh, I know me personally, sometimes it becomes cumbersome to have multiple cameras, lenses, uh, memory cards, batteries, you know, some way to back it up with an iPad. You got to bring a drone, a GoPro, like all these things. So, uh, I'm really happy to tackle that question and get Mark's perspective. Uh, today's interview is just a ton of fun and I know that you're going to enjoy it. So let's get on into it right now with mark Hemings. Today's guest is mark Hemings, a professional travel photographer who according to his website over the next 12 months is scheduled to visit five different continents, which is crazy. And today I'm really excited to chat and find out how we can be taking better photos of our own travels. Mark, thank you so much for coming on the podcast.

Mark Hemmings: 00:04:36 Oh, it's a pleasure. Absolute pleasure, right Amanda, and thank you for inviting me. And I always love to be able to communicate my well, my first love with regards to my hobby and my career and to share as much of my information to the public as possible.

Raymond: 00:04:55 Well, if I can a, if I've picked up one thing through watching some of your youtube videos, it's definitely that you love to share information. So I know that this is a, this is gonna be a great podcast, but before you kinda got to this point, right, where you, uh, travel the world and you take photos, you teach others how to take photos while they're on their travels. How did you get your start in photography?

Mark Hemmings: 00:05:15 Yeah, so the start for me was a fairly unique in that, uh, when I graduated from a university here in eastern Canada called University of New Brunswick, um, vote, I would say about a half year or a year later, I got a, an interesting job to become an ESL that's English as a second language student recruiter. And uh, myself and a bunch of others who were set up as a team, um, were sent to Asia and other countries. And our job was to bring students to eastern Canada to learn English for this university program. And I was in Japan for five weeks and it was really a fascinating, uh, experience being in that country. And I learned very quickly that my skillset was definitely not student recruiting. In fact, I don't think that, uh, I, I did any good at all. No students came. However, I did realize that I, for the first time, and this is one year after graduating university that I was actually fairly good at taking pictures and my grandfather gave me his old Nikon camera and if I recall, it was called a Nikon e m.

Mark Hemmings: 00:06:30 And it was one of the first, I think semi a like it was a, a classic film camera, but it also allowed aperture priority, which was very helpful. And of course back then it was slide film and I really learned the hard way to get proper exposure because every picture was a single dollar. And for me, uh, you know, being a young fellow with not too much money, that dollar had to go a long way. So one picture and I had to get the exposure right. That was the sort of the, the first introduction to my career as a photographer. Then after that I started to work in the movie industry as a photographer. A good friend of mine said, Hey, mark, uh, there's a Hollywood movie here working in town, and they, we just need to get to someone who knows how to use a camera. So that was my first job. And then from the movie industry, it branched out into commercial photography, uh, advertising, photography, and then the travel photography, which I'm sure we'll get to

Raymond: 00:07:34 of course, of course. So wow, that was quite a journey. Uh, I kind of want to unpack that a little bit. So, uh, you went on this trip to Japan to recruit students to come back to Canada. And then, uh, it sounded like you said after you had graduated is when you got your camera. So was that trip to Japan kind of the, you didn't have a camera at that point, correct?

Mark Hemmings: 00:07:56 No. In fact, I asked my grandfather if I could borrow his Nikon. He gave it to me just for that trip, and I had a boat a week or two to figure out the knobs and dials. What is, what are these numbers on the website? What's the number on the shutter? And I have no idea. And the hard part is, is that I knew I wanted to shoot slide film because my parents growing up, we would always have fun looking at slideshows projected on the wall or on a screen. So I said, I think I really want to jump in with slide film. And I didn't realize how hard it is compared to negatives because the negatives [inaudible] you take them to the shop and they in the lab can correct for any type of, uh, exposure problems, not so a slide film, slide film, you have to be dead accurate. And I learned the lesson the hard way.

Raymond: 00:08:46 Yeah. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. So, so you got back, you realize you're like, okay, I have an idea of what this camera can do. I know that I obviously have to nail the exposure. Um, so how did you, was there anything outside of just practice that you use to be a primary source of, of photography education?

Mark Hemmings: 00:09:05 Yes. Um, back then we didn't have a online education. Of course, this is two decades ago, a 1997. And uh, so what I did was I got as many photo magazines as possible and, uh, in Canada we had a, and still do a really good one called photo life, which I definitely recommend. Uh, outdoor photographer from the states, um, and a whole bunch of other photo magazines, international ones. And I would just consume them like food as many magazines as possible. And then when I started to really get into portraiture and fashion, I would just consume fashion magazines. This is all I had. I didn't have any training. I, uh, I studied philosophy. That was my, my major in university and I graduated with it because I assumed that I would just become a university professor in philosophy. So I didn't want to go back to school for photography because I was married, newly married, and I just wanted to get right into photography and make money. So the magazines were the things that kept me going and helped me craft the style that I have.

Raymond: 00:10:17 [inaudible] Jeez. So in 97, I, I barely remember 97, 97. Uh, I was, uh, I was nine years old in 97. Yeah. We just got our first computer and it was still many years until we had got, uh, our first, uh, digital camera or even, um, like video camera. Um, but, uh, I had some, were very specific. I was going with that question and then I got sidetracked thinking about that little old computer that I hated so much. Uh, uh, so when it comes time to, um, picking up the camera and you're shooting with slides, you, you're out there, you're getting that experience. What was the w w w what sorts of photography were you pursuing? Obviously you said motion pictures, but then when did that love of photography and travel merged together?

Mark Hemmings: 00:11:08 Yes. So, um, when I was in Japan, it was, uh, I went into a special place called Nagano and a lot of people recognize Nagano because the Olympics were there, uh, the winter Olympics in the 90s. And nature. Back then, it was all nature and all landscapes, and that was the, the, the prize. And, uh, absolutely loved it. So when I got back, uh, and it was time to switch gears into learning how the movie industry works with regards to photography. So for example, that would be, I would be sent out by the producers to location scout for any place that's in the script. So if the script said creepy old house, I needed to go find that in my own city. And, uh, of course that the job also included, um, photographing the actors. So back then we just had, we still had film and I had to buy what's called a blimp, which is a soundproof covering that covered my Nikon cameras.

Mark Hemmings: 00:12:09 And Man, that was a hassle. It's so nice now that we have silent, you know, the Fujifilm having the ability to shoot silently. However, um, the transitions that have gone through have been very interesting because I've almost touched on every genre of photography. Um, I know you do a lot of weddings. Um, I, I did try a few weddings in the late nineties and I realized that it takes a very, um, it takes a lot of, would you say, um, grace to deal with, you know, uh, the normal scenarios of mothers in laws and people who are, have really, they really know what they want. And there's very little flexibility. And I realized my personality is such that I don't think that this is going to be sustainable because you need to have a really, you need to be an actor and I'm sure you would agree in the sense that your emotions have to be on, you need to be up.

Mark Hemmings: 00:13:07 And, uh, I realized that I just wasn't so good at this. So then I realized that, well, the movie industry things going well, but then we had a problem where the tax credits from our government dried up. So the movie industry dot. Dried up no longer were Hollywood movie shoots or New York shoots coming up here to Canada because the tax breaks were gone. So what's left? Well, I started into commercial photography, so that would be working for the local, um, you know, any local company that needs advertising. We have a lot of industry here in the east coast. So I'd be working for oil companies, nuclear power plants, uh, all of these, these, uh, big companies. And I must say that the, those worked out well for helping me, um, you know, bring in the money to buy new gear and to support my young family.

Raymond: 00:14:02 Yeah. Geez. So, so when was it that you decided to make that jump to, to focus more on, on travels?

Mark Hemmings: 00:14:09 Yeah, so that would be in 2004. And my brother Greg Hemmings, um, who is one of my, my greatest influencers, he's younger than me actually. He said, um, mark, I have a, a really sort of interesting scenario. I've been hired or asked, not hired, sorry, asked to go to South Korea to teach filmmaking. Cause my brother's a filmmaker to teach filmmaking at a, a South Korean, um, Film Academy. But my friend's getting married at the same day. So he said, uh, would you like to take my place? And I said, hmm, let me think about that.

Raymond: 00:14:50 Didn't Dick Laugh at it?

Mark Hemmings: 00:14:51 That's right. So it was off to South Korea. I met some amazing people there, especially some really good friends from Hungary. And the Hungarian friends that I met, they said, hey, mark, we're doing a film workshop and photo workshop in Hungary next year. Would you like to come as a guest instructor? And I said, yes. So that was the initiation of me combining a photography with travel. And then the year later I said, well, why don't I do my own workshop in Japan? Because I had experience, had been there twice before. So I, uh, started one in Japan and that was in 2005, I think. And since then I've been doing them every single year.

Raymond: 00:15:35 I love it. I love it. I'm obviously looking at your website. You've been to various, um, exotic locations, um, some very tropical locations. And, uh, I know that you're doing a, a a cruise workshop, which Shawn's really cool because, uh, my family is, is this fall, we're going on a, on a cruise together. Okay.

Mark Hemmings: 00:15:54 Oh good.

Raymond: 00:15:55 It's my family. It's my wife's family. It's, it's my parents. So it's, it's going to be something that I'm going to want to remember. So I of want to use this as a scenario for, for the, uh, some of the questions that I'm gonna have for this podcast. Um, the question is I want to capture the whole thing. Like I said, how do I start today to better prepare for an upcoming trip?

Mark Hemmings: 00:16:21 Yes. Well there's, there's, there's two schools of thought and I, and they're both radically opposite. Okay. So here, first school, prepare as much as you can. I read everything about the location, understand the culture and get completely in tuned to even get the, the number of the police. Uh, make sure that you have everything ready for your insurance. Um, you know, where the local hospital is. This is the wise option. Option number one. Yes.

Raymond: 00:16:54 I don't like it. I already don't like it.

Mark Hemmings: 00:16:56 Option number two is what I usually find myself is I know nothing and I get lost and I'm just dumped into this scenario that I've, I, I've absolutely no idea what I'm doing. And those are the ones where the magic happens. Now I don't want, I don't want to say one or the other is better, but often has to do with probably personality types. Um, interestingly I'm, I feel in 50, 50 left and right brain. So I am very comfortable, totally planning out everything perfectly. And I'm also totally comfortable if for whatever reason I just have no idea what's going on. And, but I do say that usually my best results are from when I just throw myself into a culture and I'm totally shocked by what I see and I purposely just get myself lost.

Raymond: 00:17:49 Can you give me an example

Mark Hemmings: 00:17:50 of, of, of why you think that is and when something like that happened? Yeah, so I guess the, the excitement and adrenaline and also by the way, fear. Okay. I usually couch this by saying that fear in general is not good, but a certain amount of fear actually increases. What would you say? Uh, it increases the ability for us to be creative because we have a bit of adrenaline going through our system and that adrenaline is going to make us hyper sensitive to our environments. And it's almost like, uh, way too much coffee and you know how we get when we drink too much caffeine? Well, that's very similar when we have no idea what our surroundings are. A little bit of danger is actually something that just spurs creativity to no end. And I'm just super sensitive. I'm looking around, I'm scanning everywhere. Everything is a rectangle for me when I'm looking around.

Mark Hemmings: 00:18:54 And you would appreciate that too. When you become a photographer, the whole world becomes a rectangle and this is a good thing because such amazing photos come of it. Now I will say that if I'm in a very foreign country, then I'll hire a local photographer to help me. So for example, uh, when I first started to do that was in India because that is a culture that I knew nothing about. And uh, I said I'm going to be in big trouble. So, and that it's really easy to do. You just go to Instagram or Facebook and just find local photographers and just, uh, see if they would, uh, take you around for a couple hours. And it's just, it's such a time saver and I really encourage people to do that because you can get so many, so much better photos cause you're not, how do I figure out the subway system? Well, you don't need to worry about that.

Raymond: 00:19:47 Yeah, that sounds like a really fun idea that that kind of adds to the adventure. Like not only are you going to travel to this new location, but now you just have it adventure onto the plate. And, uh, that's something that I'm definitely going to incorporate whenever we get off the boat. I believe in, uh, I think it's Cozumel. I'm sure. I'm sure that there's gotta be people in Cozumel who will want to, uh, be a part of something like that. So I'm excited. Thank you so much for, for sharing that tip. Um, so now let's, let's go the other way. Okay. We kinda, we kind of walked into how to just show up and uh, just capture whatever happens in front of your camera. What if we wanted to plan this thing out to the most, you know, tiny detail when it comes to the photography side of things, what should we be looking for?

Mark Hemmings: 00:20:36 Yes. Requesting for one thing for preparation. Instagram is absolutely amazing. So what I do is I look through Instagram with the specific location and this is very simple. All of us can do it. And I'm, so for example, Cozumel, Mexico, and then you'll see the top hits. Now half of those top hits are going to be, you know, silly pictures of scantily clad women. Of course I'm in a tropical location. Yeah. But the other half are going to be the best photos that people love because they're so beautiful or so intriguing. And that's what you want. You just simply, because most of those Instagram images are tagged per location, you know exactly where that photo was taken. This is the best way to plan where you want to photograph. Um, now with regards to a gear, I have, uh, been over the years becoming more and more and more of a minimalist.

Mark Hemmings: 00:21:35 And at this point I challenged myself and now I don't think this is wise for everybody, but I have one camera body and one prime lens. That's it. Now the reason I do this is because I physically want to move in and out of the picture without zooming because I feel that's more of a challenge and it gets my creativity going and it also allows me to have a small kids. Now if you're going to a place that's a little bit dangerous, your kit has to be small and unobtrusive. Now you're a Fujifilm user, I believe. I am. Absolutely. So my, uh, my kit is the Fuji Fujifilm x pro two, which is a rangefinder design and a 35 millimeter equivalent lens. So it would be the 23 millimeter f two. And that's pretty much all I use because most of my work is travel photography.

Mark Hemmings: 00:22:30 Now for those who are into other forms of photography, plan on taking, you know, your good zoom lens or whatever. But really keep the package light. You don't want to be a targets for the, you don't want to have, you know, weighed down shoulders with this huge backpack. And I used to do that because back in the day I would have like the Nikon, I think my first pro camera was the d two x. That was a monster camera with huge f 2.8 lenses. And really, even though I was younger, I, I would still get exhausted by the end of the day just by that heavy weight. Sure. So when you're planning for trip pack light, make sure if you're using a tripod that you invest in either, um, you know, a carbon fiber or go the other way and just buy a cheap plastic Walmart tripod. Now people say, why would you ever do that, mark?

Mark Hemmings: 00:23:25 Well, interestingly, if you have, if for example, if you're a mirrorless shooter, you're probably going to be using other Sony or a Fujifilm. Those cameras are nice and light. Well, unless you're in a windy environment, you can actually get away with a cheap plastic tripod and you're going to be able to carry that anywhere because it's so lightweight. Now of course you're sacrificing a little bit with the ball, the head because there's no ball ahead on it. But I'm just wanting to say, keep the kit light and you're going to be really successful. Also a boat. Uh, what I do whenever I go to new place, if I'm there for a week, I'm going to rent a local Sim card. I really want to make sure that I have full access to data and, uh, some com, some countries don't allow that, but most do I think. And um, it's really a far cheaper option for Canadians. Canadians have the worst and most expensive cell phone packages on the planet, I'm sure. Uh, so I always just get a Sim card. It's super quick, super easy, and you don't need voice plan. You just need data. And this will allow you to find those great locations on Google maps, TripAdvisor, Instagram, and all these other places. And it'll allow you to upload your images as soon as you take them, especially for using an iPhone or android.

Raymond: 00:24:56 Okay. So there's a lot of things there that I want to unpack. One being a mobile workflow of course for editing images, but I kind of want to go back to the gear aspect of it because, uh, you said that bringing one camera and one lens is going to result in, in, in better photos. Can you tell me why that is? Why, why is limiting yourself, uh, going to, uh, create better images?

Mark Hemmings: 00:25:23 Yeah, well, I've never golfed before, but I understand that the such thing as a Golfer's handicap where, uh, they, I assume you voluntarily give yourself a handicap in your golf score. I don't even know how that works, but, um, apparently that sort of levels of the playing field, well, it's not the same thing in photography. But what I do find is that when I produce or impose a limitation on myself, then I am forced to really, um, step up the creative game. So whenever I go on a trip, I am usually only using one prime lens. And it can either be like a, for example, a 28 millimeter, a 35 millimeter, a 50 millimeter. But whatever lens I choose, I try to stick with that throughout the whole shoot. Now I will preface this, if I'm photographing for a client, I don't do those things at all. My client is whatever they want, they will get to nail, take all my lenses. But if it's for me, then this limitation pushes my creative boundaries.

Raymond: 00:26:39 Okay. So I love this. I love this idea over the, I have definitely found that bringing less gear, uh, just like you have found is, is, is much more beneficial to the photography. It makes it more fun cause now suddenly you're not worried about curing, carrying so much gear. But yeah, but I get a lot of questions from people, at least in the beginner of photography, podcasts, Facebook group saying like I'm going on this once in a lifetime trip. Right? I'm going to Ireland. Okay. And their questions are, you know, I want to bring the DSLR, the lenses, the point and shoots the drone, the GoPro. I want to bring all of these things cause they, they all have their different uses. Right. Is that what, is that still okay to, to bring these things and not use them? Or would you rather only bring the one camera, the one lens and say whatever happens, happens.

Mark Hemmings: 00:27:35 Yeah. So this is a, what I do is, is radically strange and it's abnormal. So I would say until you're comfortable with that type of minimalism, go with everything. Because I would be, I would hate and feel terrible if someone went on this trip of a lifetime and followed my advice and didn't get that distant eagle because they didn't bring their Zoom Lens. And another thing is I don't photograph birds. Uh, so I'm not going to be taking a long lens. My, my primary love is street photography and travel photography, which is usually the 35 is perfect.

Raymond: 00:28:12 Yeah. Can you tell me when too much, when the gear becomes too much gear?

Mark Hemmings: 00:28:18 Yeah. So usually like in the, the terminology in full frame lingo is your 24 to 70 and you're 70 to 200. Those are the two lenses that are the most common and those will cover 99.9% of all your work. So if a, I would suggest that those two lenses are all you need for the all travel photography. And if you take more than that, then you're just weighing down your suitcase. And that's my, my assessment. Now if you're into drones, of course, take it. Um, if you are into GoPro, uh, take it and all you have to be concerned about with is if you start to get sore shoulders and get grumpy, your creativity is going to suffer. And I know this from firsthand experience is that if I'm uncomfortable physically because I didn't pack a warm enough clothes, a jacket, or I didn't pack a tee shirt cause it's too hot, then I am going to feel very, very low, uh, uncreative because I'm physically uncomfortable. Now there's exceptions, war photographers, photojournalists, and you know, of course we're going to feel uncomfortable. However, most of the time we're on a vacation. Yeah. And it's comfortable. So plan accordingly so you're not weighed down. You have the right amount of clothes. And I always find that a fulfill a little bit low emotionally, a good hot meal and a strong espresso really helps.

Raymond: 00:29:58 Yeah. In a, in most other countries. But coffee is a much better than here in the states for sure. So I'd say, ah, that's a great tip. That's a great tip. Maybe uh, maybe on my tropical vacation will be something a little bit more refreshing though for the heat. Yes. Okay. So I want to talk about, I remember this time and when I was coming up with a questions for this interview, I was trying to think about all about vacation photos, vacation photos that I took in the past. Recently I went out to Arizona to visit my mom and when I was growing up, she made scrapbooks all the time. And I was going through some of those photos and I realized, you know, how bad these these vacation photos were. And it reminded me of this time when I was in fourth grade when one of my classmates, his name was Irvin, he took a road trip with his family to mount Rushmore. And when he got back, we all had to sit through a slide presentation of this nine year olds photos of like the road and Mount Rushmore. And it was like so far away in these photos that everybody was just bored to tears. So what are some signs of amateur travel photography so that we can avoid them and not bore our friends and family?

Mark Hemmings: 00:31:05 Oh, I'm glad you asked. Because if I can help anybody with this, then the world of slideshow entertainment is going to skyrocket. Perfect. Because all of us have sat through, for example, let's say that a friend or family member goes to Europe and they get 60 photos of the European churches. Well, the, yeah, the churches are beautiful. But after the fifth picture, it's just another boring church.

Raymond: 00:31:36 We get it. Yeah.

Mark Hemmings: 00:31:38 So w what I advise people to do is to actually hide the [inaudible] the primary subject. So w, uh, in art theory or, or the Lingo of, uh, photography, the primary subject is that which is the most visually important. So let's say it's the church. A secondary subject is usually something that supports the primary subject. Now, sometimes a secondary secondary subject could actually frame the primary subject. Let me give you an example. Let's think of that European church. No, let's actually go to the Taj Mahal. Now. Everybody photographs the Taj Mahal who goes to India. However, if you only allow a little bit of the Taj Mahal to be, um, viewed because it's framed with a silhouette of those, uh, of, um, sort of an area that, um, has arches or it's hidden partially by a interesting object on the grounds, or let's go back to the European church.

Mark Hemmings: 00:32:44 Maybe the only the spire of the church is visible because you've hit it behind other buildings that are out of focus. What we're always trying to do is allow our viewer to have more, more activation of their imagination. And this is a primary way that we increase the visual value of our photos. So if we think of a snapshot of that European Church as a documentary shot, okay, it's okay as it is, no problem. But if we want to go from documentary to fine art or from documentary to really good travel photography, it's usually the case that we're going to alter the environment to not fully show the subject. So that could be nighttime. You could photograph the church at the nighttime where we only see certain elements that are lit up. We could move ourselves so we only capture a small glimpse of the church or we could really do something different if we have the drone photograph. From an aerial perspective, we're always trying to hide the primary subject to an extent that the imagination of the viewer is activated.

Raymond: 00:33:55 [inaudible] okay. This is a, this is a really interesting concept. I'm trying to, to picture it in my head because if I think of a, um, a European church, I have not been to Europe, but I know that they're very large. They're typically in some sort of square with lots of space around. So if, if, how is, how is hiding the photo? Uh, I understand that it's adding the man like [inaudible] excuse me, like adding a portion of the viewers' imagination, right? Like to, to for them to explore that, to enjoy the photo. How much of this should we be doing? How much should we be hiding our,

Mark Hemmings: 00:34:38 yeah, I understand. So go ahead. What I, what I tried to do myself, like say for example, we have the beautiful church and we have uh, two trees that are going to frame up the spire really nicely. Those trees are acting as what we'd call a foreground elements. Okay? So the trees are hiding the church, but we still see 20 or 30% of the church surface. It's just that we don't see the whole church and these trees are framing devices or like I said, the foreground element. And whenever we can have foreground elements or framing devices that a package our subject together, we actually produce a more visually appealing image. Um, think of, uh, fashion photography or car photography. Now whenever we see a new picture of a Lamborghini or maybe a McLaren, these are beautiful works of art. I guarantee you that you will not see every element of the car.

Mark Hemmings: 00:35:47 Um, car photographers are brilliant. They will photograph and light this beautiful car. So that you only seeing about 30 or 40% of the surface area, the rest is black. It's all in carefully arranged shadows and you see these beautiful lights and really low to the ground. The imagination has to kick in somewhere. And whenever we see a full image of the primary subject, we, we have, we run the risk of losing interest in the viewer. If we hide some parts of the primary subject because of unique use of shadow or foreground elements or framing, it's incredible how much more visual value that image has because the viewers imagination is engaged. What is the one thing that we want our viewers to do when they see our photos

Raymond: 00:36:42 say, wow, that's a beautiful photo

Mark Hemmings: 00:36:44 or, or a disturbing photo or an interesting photo or any type of emotion, but we have, we have to have an a, a reaction. Now, one of the great ways in getting that reaction is by providing mystery confusion. Um, W uh, drama, metaphor, narrative. These are all devices that we as photographers really need to infuse in our images to take our images from just a standard snapshot into a work of art.

Raymond: 00:37:17 Okay. Okay. Let me think about this. I love this idea. Adding more, adding, I guess we're not adding more context to the photo. We're adding just more intrigue when we do these things to add that interest. So if we are on a family vacation, okay, we're thinking of, you know, Europe, we go to these nice places, we want to show off specific things and these things are great. If we're in a family atmosphere around other people, what sorts of things can we be doing to, to add that intrigue and interest?

Mark Hemmings: 00:37:53 Yeah. Yeah. So that's a great question. Now, if family shots, like for example, I have two systems, um, I shoot with an iPhone, um, and also of course my Fuji. And if it's just a standard snapshot that I, I'm not really caring about anything deep, no narrative, no metaphor, no poetry, then just a standard snapshot of my friends and my family in front of that church is perfectly fine. However, um, in order to, what if I really want to have, if half the time, then I'll, I'll do fun stuff like a forced perspective with my kids. Uh, they love doing that. Have you ever seen that where one of the kids is holding onto church steeple? Well, the church steeple is, is maybe, who knows, 60 feet high, but there she is holding onto the top. These are fun things that will take our potentially boring family snapshots and allowing them to be, um, appealing to both this generation and future generations down the road.

Mark Hemmings: 00:39:00 Another thing is, um, when you're photographing with your, with your family and you're in these wonderful spots, well, um, try, try scale, like try to have your, your son or your daughter or your mum or your dad. So small in the picture that they are dwarfed by the sheer scale of the massive coliseum or the, you know, the, uh, the huge church or whatever essentially, or change your angle. Essentially. We're always trying to avoid the, the, the uh, the elevation that 99% of all photography is taken. Here's a, here's a quiz for you. What height in feet cause you're American. What height in feet are 99% of all photos taken?

Raymond: 00:39:53 Uh, like five foot seven. Like I love [inaudible].

Mark Hemmings: 00:39:56 Exactly. Exactly. Whatever the average height of a, you know, uh, people are, that is the, the normal height of all photography. So if we want to get into the 1%, what do we have to do?

Raymond: 00:40:11 We either go up or we either go down.

Mark Hemmings: 00:40:14 Exactly. So that is the key. And why do you feel that not many people take those low shots from the ground shooting up, which are always very interesting.

Raymond: 00:40:25 Uh, just cause it's a little bit more work.

Mark Hemmings: 00:40:27 Exactly. It's because it's uncomfortable. Yeah. To get down on your knees and you know, it's not comfortable to do that. That's why everyone avoids it. But if we as photographers want to really instill interesting elements into our images, we have to, you do things like, you know, put our hand up really high to photograph shooting down or to get really low and to shoot from a lower perspective, which actually empowers our primary subject. So if it's a person, it makes them appear grander and more important. And that's a good thing. Luckily with newer cameras, we actually have flip screens where we can, uh, we can actually get those low shots comfortably because we can just look down, my camera doesn't have that. But uh, Mo, most of the newers do. Yeah.

Raymond: 00:41:19 Right. Yeah. I was a, I was out with the kids yesterday and uh, I was doing just that. There was like this field, it's finally like a nice day outside. It was like this field and I just loved like the moving clouds. I brought the, I also shoot with an expo too. I brought the camera down as low as I could. It being bright, you can't really see it. So then I had to lay in the grass. It was raining the day before yesterday. I got all muddy. But a, yeah, a flip screen would be a w would be a great thing to have. Um, for sure. For sure. So, okay. So, so just adding that, the different visual interests just by simply changing the height of a of the camera. That is, that's a very good tip. I love that right there. Uh, so I haven't, I've, uh, I've uh, pair friends right now, my wife's friends, they are in Cuba.

Raymond: 00:42:02 They just went to Cuba and went to go visit it. They're super excited. Every single photo that they posted on Facebook or Instagram is them in front of something them in front of assignments as welcome to Cuba, them in front of a storefront, them in front of like the beach and stuff like that. Now these shots are fine for them because they are snapshots, right? But when I go out with my family, that's what everybody says, Oh, let me get a photo in front of this thing. Let me get a photo. And like, I want to be in this photo of this thing. And then all the photos start to look exactly the same. But like, I don't want to take those photos. I want photos that have mood, that have, that feel, that have culture, that get the whole experience right. Aside from snapshots, what specific photos should I be hunting for?

Mark Hemmings: 00:42:48 Yeah, great question. And first of all, there, there is a place for a selfie photos, but it's, it's only about a 10% place or 5%. Um, and after a while it just becomes silly. Now I know that influencers are a separate breed and they have to, that's their job and that's okay. But for the most of us who are not, um, you know, selling our, using our face to provide an income, then maybe five or 10% selfies is a good ratio. Uh, after that, we want to actually create images that mean something to someone else. I'll give you a, an example. If we don't create value for our viewer, our viewer is gonna walk away. Now, I, you and I are not super, uh, superstar status with regards to, um, you know, we're not supermodels. Okay. Yeah, I certainly am not. So I appreciate that.

Mark Hemmings: 00:43:53 Yeah. So that means that if I go beyond my 5% or 10% of including me in the shot in Japan or whatever, then I'm no, I'm no longer providing value to my viewer. My viewer receives value by having clear and concise content. I'm explaining the photo, maybe giving some photo lessons under that photo, but that photo needs to speak to them. That's how I give value to my client. Now, how to you of course get a photo to speak to someone? Well, in many ways we've already been talking about it. It's creating that will allow people to linger on your photo longer than all the other photos. How many photos do you think we go through a day?

Raymond: 00:44:42 Oh, how many photos do we take? Or how many photos? [inaudible]

Mark Hemmings: 00:44:44 so just by viewing Instagram, Facebook websites, we flipped through hundreds and hundreds. And why do you stop flipping through at that one picture? You W why do you stop there?

Raymond: 00:45:01 Uh, there's just something interesting, uh, in the photo, whether it be red light or, or the subject matter.

Mark Hemmings: 00:45:08 Exactly. Now this subject matter can be pretty much anything. We're not limited to the, the far off exotic vacation. It could be in your own hometown or even in your house. It is something that is as photo photographed or recorded in a unique way that very few other people have done. Now this does not mean that your up the creek. If you live in a what you think is a boring environment, that's not true. There's always a photo to be taken. It just takes you, I'm getting in your practice, you know, maybe doing a, a photo a day challenge for 365 but getting the, the sort of engine going where you realize that there is a photo here in my environment and I'm going to give myself the challenge to do one a day and make it look interesting. Now with regards to back to Cuba that my goodness, Cuba would be so rich visually, um, that, you know, photographing those wonderful old cars.

Mark Hemmings: 00:46:10 But instead of just taking a picture of a classic Studebaker or whatever cars they had over there, why not take the time to kneel down, get really low and photograph the car from the ground perspective? Because if you do that automatically, you're in the 1% and all of the other tourists that go through Cuba have taken that same Studebaker, but they've taken it at five foot six inches or am I right? Yeah. But that's going to be the same as everyone else. So what you want is to get down on the ground, make sure that car looks grand and amazing. And you can do that easily just by moving your position to a lower, lower scenario.

Raymond: 00:46:55 [inaudible] okay. So about things that are, um, um, you know, things not pimple. Um, how do we, how do we, how do we give them more, more feeling aside from just like bringing the camera up and down. Um, how, how do we, how do we, how do we give them more, more life?

Mark Hemmings: 00:47:12 Oh, I love that question. Have you ever heard of the one of Vista Social Club,

Raymond: 00:47:16 the Buena Vista Social Club? Uh, I feel like I have, but please, please remind me.

Mark Hemmings: 00:47:22 Yeah. So then vendors did a film on these Cuban musicians and this was probably in the, if I recall, and it was a just about the, the director wanting to, to find out if they were still alive cause they were amazing musicians. I think maybe in the 50s or 60s if I get my story straight. Um, and anyway, the desire was to find them and bring them to New York City for a reunion concert. You have to see that movie. It's amazing. It's called the Bueno Vista Social Club. Anyway, the cover shot was one of the most inspiring photos I've ever seen. And uh, it's a cover shot of a classic vehicle in a Cuban Street in Havana. And it was such rated colors. It was shot in film obviously, but the amount of shadow was so deep and I said, I've never seen a photo so dramatic. And that grabbed my soul as much as this one.

Mark Hemmings: 00:48:28 And one of the musicians was walking up the Havana street alongside the car, half the shot, half the shot was in deep shadow. Why am I saying this? Almost always, I add, I guess you could say I reduced the blocks in my photo. Now what does that mean? For those who are not familiar with editing in your editing software, you will have a slider that, um, usually has a, it says either shadow or dark or block or sometimes both. For example, in light room you have a shadows and you have blocks of separate. If you reduce those blocks or those shadows, you're immediately increasing the drama and the visual value of your photo. And it's the easiest thing to do in the world. That's all you have to do. That's a great, and that just punches the picture and it's amazing at what kind of return you'll get on your investment of literally three seconds.

Raymond: 00:49:30 Yeah. Okay. Well, you know, I'm definitely going to, uh, post the, uh, uh, the, the poster from the Buena Vista Social Club in the show notes. So if anybody's listening right now, check out the show notes and uh, and you'll be able to see it there as an example. Uh, so let's, let's now this is a perfect segue. Let's talk about your mobile editing workflow. If you are in these locations, right? Are you, again, let's take the vacation example. Are you, are you also bringing your laptop, your, your card reader, uh, you know, backup hard drives. Are you bringing it all or is it, is it all on your phone or something in between?

Mark Hemmings: 00:50:05 Yeah, so this is very exciting. I'm glad you asked this because I have finally, um, about a year ago discovered and created a workflow where I don't need my computer. All I need is my iPhone. I can do a complete professional photo shoot a in a different country with my camera and just this using Lightroom cc. Now for those who, uh, have not got into light room, there are currently two versions, one's called Lightroom classic and one's called Lightroom cc. And I advise a newer photographers to jump into Lightroom CC. It's a cloud based system and it allows you to be completely mobile and edit anywhere in the world off of your phone. Now you may say, well, mark 'em, that's not professional. You can never do a professional edit on your phone. Uh, anyway, I'd like to challenge you if you believe that because I have been doing experiments with Lightroom cc ever since it was invented, which was only about a year ago, I think.

Mark Hemmings: 00:51:11 Anyway, as soon as it came out, I said, I'm going to push myself because I'm a travel photographer to see if I can do an entire professional photo shoot just with this. So you've got my Fuji, uh, load my Fuji Images into here. Then, um, uh, Lightroom CC app pulls the images in and amazingly, this is the first time I've seen it, but the light room cc, um, I guess you call it an engine has the exact same, um, abilities as your laptop version because usually an app has a dumb, is a dumbed down version of whatever app is on your laptop. Right? Right. But because this is all cloud based, the actual processing of Lightroom cc images is not really done in your iPhone and it's not even really done in your Mac book or your windows computer. Um, all of the processing of your raw images is done in the cloud somewhere under the underground in California.

Mark Hemmings: 00:52:18 In some bunker that Adobe has kept safe. So for example, also on our, uh, light room for iPhone or Android, you can take raw photos with the, uh, the app. You take a raw photo. Well it goes up to the cloud, uh, lives sort of in the servers, uh, as a raw image. And when we do edits like, uh, two weeks from now, I do it an edit. Well the, it's just an instruction going up to Adobe. It's not really the, the photo being edited and that's why this system I think is great because it's so, it's, it doesn't require a huge amount of data transfer. So if I want to edit a full raw image, 24 megapixel from my expert to, um, it's super fast because when I make my edits, like say I want to adjust the contrast. Well it's just a little instruction going up to the cloud saying mark Hemings says adjust. Contrast. That's it. It's so easy. Anyway, I am really excited about the light room cc workflow and it allows us as photographers to travel. You can be on a ski hill going up on your ski lift and still edit raw files and send them to your client.

Raymond: 00:53:39 [inaudible] so now suddenly if it's all cloud based, not only do you have the, the phone instead of the computer, but now you don't need the, uh, the external hard drive since it's all being backed up, uh, to the cloud. Is that right?

Mark Hemmings: 00:53:51 That's correct. But for those who are still nervous, and I'm, I'm, by the way, I have three copies of everything everywhere. Uh, Lightroom. Cc just the same as light room classic allows for you to just plug in an external hard drive to your computer and it'll back up instantly. Every time you make a change. So it's, uh, you have the physical hard drive backup, you have the cloud backup. And if you are completely anal about backups like I am, you know that a light room backup that you just plugged in, make a copy of it, put it in a safety deposit box, send it to your brother's house. There's, there's no way for you to lose, uh, you know, your collection in this day and age.

Raymond: 00:54:34 So let me ask you a kind of a technical question here because, uh, I've just kind of started to get into this a with, but with an iPad instead of my phone. Um, when it comes to calling photos, that is where I have the most difficulty cause on a computer I'm used to photo mechanic call through thousands of images in like 15 minutes. What's the best way that you have found to Cole through images? Do you upload all of the photos that you take into light room called from there or do you do it through the photos app?

Mark Hemmings: 00:55:01 It's a fantastic idea. Or, sorry, question. And there's two, of course, two schools of thought. As always, um, when you, when I plug in my SD card to my computer, uh, if I'm going to be working through my laptop, um, then I have the choice. Light Room gives me the choice to check mark only the ones I want. However, I'll be honest, I just upload them all my own entire card because I find it more enjoyable to sit in the cafe, listen, you know, the cool environment, drinking the espresso and then call the photos in a place where I am in my happy place. Okay. I don't really like to pre-select images to import into light room. I'm right off my SD card because I find that I'm not in a, it's not a creative in a scenario. Right. I load them all, my whole SD card gets loaded and then I just sit back, relax and call. Now the calling process in light room that I do is I just press x on it. It's okay. You can't see my, uh, my laptop here obviously, but I press x and the next Arrow x next arrow. Oh, I like that one. Next Arrow next to t, g g X. D d d d. X. And this is a really quick way just to delete a hundred photos. Ah, now the x does not delete the photo, but it flags it as to be deleted.

Raymond: 00:56:34 Right, right. I gotcha. Okay. And then, so essentially on your phone it's the same thing, minus the keyboard shortcut. You just choose the flagged images or the reject images

Mark Hemmings: 00:56:43 singly on the phone. It's even easier because all you have to do just go zip like that, like a down swipe, and then you'll swipe down and you'll see the x flag and that's it. Just flip, flip.

Raymond: 00:56:57 Perfect. They made it easy. Okay, so now we have, we've talked about going out, talked to, we've talked about planning our trip, we've talked about going out and how to make photos more interesting. We talked about I what gear we should be using and even the mobile workflow. Now we have our photos. The trip is over. Here they are. Here's a hundred photos or so. What do we do with them?

Mark Hemmings: 00:57:22 Yeah. So what I love to do first is make sure that my, my blocks are the way I want them. So as I said, and I strongly advise all of your listeners to try this, is that if you feel that your images lack a little bit of drama or a little bit of punch, they're well exposed. Okay. The exposure's fine, but you just want that little bit more punch than go to the blocks and reduce it just a bit until you feel that you have what you need. Again, if you don't see that word blocks, look for the word shadows or look for the word dark or something like that.

Raymond: 00:58:02 I got Ya. And I want to cut you off real quick. I apologize. I totally screwed up that question. Where I was going with it was we have the finished photos. W what do we do at that point? And we sharing them on social media, turning them into a a video slide show. Are we making a book? What do we do? How do we, how do we preserve these memories?

Mark Hemmings: 00:58:21 Yeah. So, uh, when I have gone through my images, I daily, uh, send images to my Instagram and Facebook. So that's the priority. And what I do after I edit the picture and I really like it the way it is, then I usually use my phone because I find it quicker. All I do is go to the up Arrow on that image within Lightroom CC and send it straight to Facebook or Instagram. Gotcha, Gotcha. Now there's another way you could send it to your photos collection, either an android or a iPhone and do it that way as well. There's, there's a couple of ways to get them online now. I don't do 'em I don't print mine out so much unless I have a need. It's usually social base because that's where most of my viewers are. And I usually add a free photo instruction on every photo.

Raymond: 00:59:14 Oh cool. Like how the photo was taken.

Mark Hemmings: 00:59:17 Yeah. And also ways that you can create a similar, so for example, um, I think you'll be putting my Instagram, uh, militia knows. Yeah. Um, if you go there, you have a history, you have an entire photography, uh, course just through the images alone. Cause I always put, um, little lessons on them.

Raymond: 00:59:40 That is a very cool idea. That is a very cool idea. Definitely something that people are going to have to, uh, check out. Absolutely. For sure. Mark, you've, you've been to a lot of locations. I want to know is there, is there one like hidden treasure location that you have a place that maybe really surprised you when you showed up? You were just kind of blown away.

Mark Hemmings: 01:00:02 Yes. I'm glad you asked that as well. The craziest place I've ever been to, and when I say crazy, it's crazy in the best possible way for photography is Jerusalem. Really? I have never been, I was shocked. Jerusalem is, is not even now, I'm not sure of in miles, but in square kilometers, it's not even two square kilometers. Very small yet. That's sort of like the center of the world. It's the, the, this, the place where the three mono monotheistic religions started. So you have, um, you have Arabs in their white garments, you have the Jewish priests with the big hats. You have the Christian priests with their long flowing black robes and they're all walking around. It's like, am I in the twilight zone or am I in, you know, some fabricated tourism, a village? No, this is the real thing. I've never seen the real thing. To the extent that I've seen in Jerusalem. I think every photographer should go there. It's, I have a, some images on my website, uh, that showed Jerusalem. It is insanely interesting for photography.

Raymond: 01:01:22 Sounds like, I know where, uh, one of your next workshops is going to be.

Mark Hemmings: 01:01:26 I would love to. Yeah.

Raymond: 01:01:28 Um, I got, I got one last question for you. I know that we've, uh, we've been chatting for a while. I want to be conscious of your time. I've got one last question for you. And I love asking this question. It's, it's, have you ever had, it's easily, have you ever had an embarrassing moment on the job, but have you ever had an embarrassing moment while photographing another culture abroad?

Mark Hemmings: 01:01:49 I think so. Um, I, uh, I have a passable understanding of Japanese because I'd been there a lot. It's certainly enough to chat with a co, a cab driver, but it's not, I can't get into any deep conversations. Um, so anyway, uh, I was, there's a wonderful dessert in Japan called Mochi and that's a pounded rice. And in the middle is a, uh, bean paste, the sweet bean paste called, uh, uncle. And uh, I said to a person, a Japanese person, uh, quarterly, uh, oil, she uncle this meaning this is delicious, uh, Onco paste. And they burst out laughing and they said, ah, eventually you just said that this is delicious. Excrement. G I was going to say a different word, but the irony is that onco paste is brown and kind of looks like diarrhea. Did they think that you were confused for a second and that you were just going to go for it? They knew I was just silly. A foreign or learning their language and that was different. It was a very cute experience. Yeah. An uncle who knew

Raymond: 01:03:08 very similar. In fact, you just saying them to me, I couldn't distinguish the difference even if I tried and so sounds like a reasonable mistake. Reasonable mistake. Well, mark, um, I wanna thank you. You have shared so much knowledge. You've helped me out a lot in preparing for my trip. Uh, this coming fall, I'm, I'm probably going to do a little bit of planning, maybe not a whole bunch, but maybe I'll kind of venture into that space and do some planning. And also, uh, I think I'm going to give the, uh, the iPad workflow a, a a stronger look because I think that that, uh, would obviously free up a whole bunch of stuff. So mark, again, you shared a ton of great information. I really appreciate it and I know that the listeners did as well. So before I let you go, can you let everybody know, uh, where they can find you online?

Mark Hemmings: 01:03:52 Yes, by all means. So if they want free photography lessons each day, Instagram at mark Hemmings and that's m a R K, h, e m, m, I, N, g, S. And also to see my, my whole collection of images, mark hemmings.com is my website. And, and if you're, if you're a Facebook user, um, it's facebook.com/mark Hemings photography. Makes sure the photography's at the end because the mark Hemings is my personal one, but the photography is the one where I share all my images with the free photography lessons.

Raymond: 01:04:29 So cool. So cool. Well, mark, again, thank you so much for coming on and I look forward to, uh, keeping up with you, your travels and uh, even your photo lesson. So again, thank you so much.

Mark Hemmings: 01:04:39 My pleasure. Okay. Have fun in Cozumel.

Raymond: 01:04:42 So who's ready to go on a cruise? Am I right man? Mark, if you're listening, you, I can't tell you how thankful I am for you to share everything that you did and I am so excited to go on this, uh, upcoming trip with my family, uh, in the fall. So, uh, thank you for the tips. They're really gonna help out. Uh, I, if you're listening right now, I want to know what your biggest takeaway was from this interview with mark Hemmings. Uh, I have invited mark into the Facebook group, so you should be able to find him there. If you have any questions, be sure to, uh, ask him within the group. Uh, that's just a place I'm going to post a question specifically about this, uh, interview. So again, I really want to hear your biggest takeaway from today's episode. So again, in trying to keep these shorter and then, uh, than what I have, uh, in the past, uh, we're just gonna end it right there. So that is it for this week. Again, if you could leave a review for the podcast in iTunes or whatever podcast player that you listened to, I cannot explain how much they truly do help the podcast. So that is it. Thank you again for listening. Until next week, get out, keep shooting, be safe and focus on yourself. That's it. I love you all.

Speaker 2: 01:06:00 If you enjoy today's podcast, please leave us a review in iTunes or your favorite podcast player and continue the conversation with Raymond and other listeners of the podcast by joining the beginner photography podcast Facebook group today. Thank you. We'll see you again next week.