As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words … but an exceptional picture … well, quite frankly those leave me speechless.
I stumbled across the photography styling of Johannes Brock a result of my work in the world of motorsport back in 2013. Having won a photography contest, Johannes had an image featured in a print magazine and was accredited to shoot GT racing at the famed Nürburgring in Germany. As I saw more and more of his images hitting the Facebook groups I was following, I got really curious … who was this guy? …. And that my friends is when the “Facestalking” began.
As I sat in awe cruising through his motorsport images I was completely drawn in … his unique perspective and amazing post production work was jaw-dropping … and yup, I was jealous … jealous that I’d NEVER be that talented. I dug deeper and deeper into his profile and albums and anything I could get my mouse on to find out what else he’d been up to. I found one fabulous image after another and was so excited that I called Iain from his office to see what I’d discovered!
Jealousy vanished and logic took over – I decided, since I’d never be that good I at least needed to have access to what this guy had to offer … and for us, the rest is history! Thanks to the Internet, the world is such a small place where new friendships are forged with the click of a mouse.
So, that’s the long/short story of how we found Johannes Brock, but how did Johannes Brock fall in love with photography? Johannes kindly agreed to sit down with us (from across the pond) to answer a few of our questions and give us some tips to help us all improve our travel photography.
Q: How did you get into photography?
A: Before I even thought about buying a camera, I started to live out my creativity by painting, with which I was never 100 percent satisfied. It took me so long to finish the little artworks, while I had hundreds of new ideas in my mind … which lead to frustration … because I’m not the most patient person.
Between 2005 and 2010 I started to try out some editing software, to create little fantasy compositions, caricatures, cartoons, etc. I realized quickly that the results would be much better if I had better source material, so I decided to buy my first DSLR camera, which was the EOS 550D. It was at that point that taking pictures became more important to me than just composing and editing them, so I tried to learn as fast as possible, with the help of books, software, YouTube tutorials, etc.
After one year of trial and error it had become clear to me that I would try to combine my new passion, photography, with my second … motorsport. It wasn’t that easy in the beginning, because shooting from the grandstand limits the creativity in several ways. I never gave up though, and sometimes I still like to shoot from the stands among all the fans where I can soak in that special atmosphere.
Q: What drives you?
A: Not the easiest question … but every time I look through the viewfinder of my camera it just makes me smile and feel satisfied. It helps me calm down and forget everything around me, especially when I do travel or landscape photography. I try to shoot things from a different angle, like no one else before me…which I know is nearly impossible…but trying to be unique and creative … yeah that drives me.
Q: What’s your favorite photography genre/style?
A: For a long time I thought motorsport photography would be my favorite genre and I thought I’d quit photography if I couldn’t do that anymore … it’s still my passion, but if I couldn’t find the time to do it anymore I would focus more on travel and landscape photography. I like visiting remote areas, just me, my camera and a little tripod … I could be totally satisfied with that.
Q: What are your goals?
A: Two years ago my goal was to earn my living with photography, but that isn’t my number one goal today. Being a full-time photographer is a fast-paced business, but that is totally the opposite of the reason for which I started photography … as I mentioned before, it was meant to relax me and help me get away from all the stress and hectic life. So, because of that I don’t know if I see myself as a business man in photography within the next years. It always makes me smile though when professional photographers ask me about my camera settings and the way I edit my pictures.
Q: What have been the highs & lows – what do you love and hate about photography?
A: What I love about photography is the possibility to freeze special moments on the sensor or film. It’s a very strange feeling when you do a wedding knowing that the couple will have the pictures you took for their whole lives through. Although it makes me nervous from time to time, I really enjoy it.
There’s nothing I really hate about photography in general. But I do hate the way most people deal with images that took so much time and effort to create. We all, myself included, just scroll over remarkable images in social media and often totally forget to at least click the “Like” button, which I think is a modern way of getting paid for your work. We all need to slow down a bit.
When I shoot larger events, you won’t see hundreds and thousands of pictures from me in the galleries. I take my time … choose my favorites, edit them in my own style and always try to capture the heart and soul of the event. So if I find only 30 pictures are enough to represent that, it’s totally ok for me.
Q: What services do you offer and how can people hire you?
A: At the moment I plan to build up a side business, next to my full-time job, so it’ll be easier for companies (such as racing teams, etc.) to hire me. Private individuals can also book with me for photo sessions, portraits, weddings, etc. via my Facebook Page and my website. I’m also starting to sell my prints to the public since there’s been considerable interest (links below).
Since we feel that Johannes is truly an inspiration, the kind of person that moves you to get out there, start shooting and improving your pictures we thought we’d ask him for some tips … so without further ado, as promised, here they are…Johannes Brock’s Top 5 Tips To Improve Your Travel Photography:
Johannes Brock’s Top 5 Tips To Improve Your Travel Photography:
1: The early bird catches the worm…. That means you have to get up very early to catch the best light of the day. If you are early enough, you’ll have plenty of time to find the perfect spot, the right camera settings and there will still be time to do some test shots until it gets serious. That doesn’t mean that you can’t take good photos during the day, but you really should think about what subjects you are shooting and when you’ll have the perfect light for them.
2: Use Google, Flickr, Instagram, Facebook and such to get inspired. I’m sure there’s someone out there who had nearly the same idea as you, but may have made some mistakes while shooting. If you find out what the mistakes are, you’ll be well prepared for capturing your own images. I often watch YouTube videos, use Google Street View, etc. to get used to the scenery I like to shoot. Sometimes I’m impressed how well I know the places even though I’ve never been there before.
3: Try to always be flexible, which means that you might loose a couple of very nice shots while you’re thinking about which lens you should use for the situation. I try to keep my travel equipment as compact as possible so it’ll fit into a normal backpack. While travelling I often use zoom lenses, like 24-105mm or 70-200mm, but I try to plan a day where I force myself to only use my 35 or 50mm primary lens. Try it out, you’ll be impressed how different your results will be from what you normally get.
4: Talk to the locals – they can tell you things about the places you’ll visiting that you’d never find on your own, and sometimes you might find people to doing a little portrait session with.
5: Always shoot RAW. The most powerful tool besides your eye and the camera is your RAW converter. I always wonder how it is that so many people still don’t know anything about the power of RAW, although they carry equipment worth thousands of dollars. For me the RAW converter in LightRoom or Photoshop is extremely important. 75% of the time during your travels you won’t have the perfect conditions for photography – if you shoot RAW you can make compromises as the time which you’ll be able to fix post-production in your converter later on.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our time chatting with Johannes. He’s been an inspiration to both Iain and I and we hope that you’ve learned a few tips and tricks along the way. If nothing else, we’re happy to have had the pleasure to introduce you to this amazing young talent, and we wish him all the success in his photographic future.
Where to Find Johannes:
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Iain Shankland & Gail Shankland started blogging in order to inspire and motivate people to travel the world from their perspective – specializing in having the most fun while using the least amount of money, travelling on the cheap without sacrificing comfort.
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