Archive - November 2011


Jim Harmer, Idaho

Jim Harmer
How long have you been a photographer?

I purchased a DSLR a few years ago and have been hooked ever since!

What first piqued your interest in photography?

While attending college at BYU-Idaho, I wanted to find a hobby that would encourage me to get outdoors more during the summer, but that I could still enjoy inside during the cold winter months. Photography became the perfect escape for me since it allows me to do both.


What is your photography forte?

I am principally a landscape and night photographer, but I enjoy many other types of photography as well.

What tip or trick have you learned along the way that made the biggest difference to the quality of your photos?

For landscape photography, I started to see improvement in my pictures once I learned the importance of showing depth in the photo. This can be done by including something of interest in the foreground of an image. Not only does this create a strong composition, it makes it feel 3D since the depth is highlighted by the foreground element.

Choose a few questions below or add one of your own and answer it. Tell us about one of your favorite shoots and why.

This summer I drove across the United States and stopped in Nauvoo, Illinois, to visit the Church history sites. I planned to wake up at sunrise to take pictures at the Nauvoo Temple and at Carthage, but I was awakened at 2:00 a.m. to the sound of thunder outside my hotel. I sprang out of bed and drove to the temple to take night photos of the temple with lightning in the background. Unfortunately, I didn't have a rain cover for my camera, so I used a plastic shopping bag to protect the camera. I was only able to take a few pictures, but the results were beautiful.  

What is one tip that you would like to share?

Never let the gear or the technology involved in digital photography keep you so busy that you fail to appreciate the beautiful scenes you record. Every time I pick up a camera, I'm reminded of what Alma taught me: "All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth and all things that are upon the face of it" (Alma 30:44).

What do you think photographers could do to help in the Church’s call for photos?

One of the best things that photographers can do to help in this project is to involve other people in taking photos. Bring your children along to act as models when shooting, teach someone in the ward how to take pictures when you go out on a shoot, or share your photos on your family blog or social media. Sharing your photography will not only help to keep you motivated, but it will strengthen others around you and help to share the gospel.

What type of camera and lens do you use?

I shoot a Nikon D7000. I use many different lenses for different situations, but I like to use the Nikon 10-24mm lens for landscapes and a 70-200mm lens for portraits.

How do you decide what to shoot and how to shoot it?

One of the most relaxing parts of the week for me is when I steal away for 15 minutes to browse through photos from other photographers on Flickr or other photo sharing sites. This helps me to think of new concepts for shoots and it trains my eye for what makes a great photo.

What do you love about photography?

I am a husband and father of two boys in addition to attending law school and running a small business. Needless to say, life is busy. What I love about photography is that I can go out late to do night photography after the family is asleep, or early in the morning to shoot the sunrise before anyone wakes up. This way, I can enjoy a fun hobby without taking any time away from my family. Also, taking pictures of our family helps me to remember the great times that we have together.

What advice would you give to new photographers?

The one thing I see over and over is that new photographers are afraid to use what are called the "creative modes" on their cameras, rather than the automatic mode. Learning to shoot in aperture priority mode or manual mode is actually quite simple if you just spend an hour or two practicing. New photographers who dedicate just a couple hours learning to shoot in aperture priority mode will reap the benefits of better pictures for their entire lives and will begin to feel like they can control what a picture looks like.

How important is Photoshop in your final image?

To me, the work I do in Photoshop is every bit as important as the work I do behind the camera. Photography is an art form to me, so I enjoy having the latitude to create whatever I imagine.

Where is your dream location to shoot?

Someday I'd love to shoot Machu Picchu, Peru. It looks to be an incredible place.

—Jim Harmer

Lauren Dautel, Texas

Lauren Dautel
How long have you been a photographer?

I started seriously taking pictures about two years ago when I received my first DSLR camera. As soon as I tore it out of the box, I put on the lens, started practicing, and haven't stopped since. I'm 17 so I haven't had a long career, but I hope to continue it for years to come.

What first piqued your interest in photography?

When I lived in Geneva, Switzerland, my best friend had a DSLR that he really liked. I started using it every once in a while and I knew that sooner or later I had to get one myself! I started looking online at different photography blogs, bookmarking them, and checking them regularly for new updates. I became hooked pretty easily.

What is your photography forte?

My forte is probably photographing kids. I love how funny, naturally beautiful, kind and innocent they are; it's a breath of fresh air every time. Watching them goof around and just be kids is my favorite part of it because it makes it easier for me to take pictures that portray them best. Taking pictures of families is also something that I've loved—there's nothing stronger than a family.

What tip or trick have you learned along the way that made the biggest difference to the quality of your photos?

Learning how to use the multiple settings can definitely make a big difference in any picture. When I first got my DSLR, I didn't realize that changing the setting to landscape when you're shooting a landscape actually makes a noticeable difference (who would have thought?). Now that I've learned my way around the camera and all its nooks and crannies, I've noticed a difference in the quality of my pictures.


Where is home?

Having lived in three different states (Utah, Texas, New Jersey) and three foreign countries (England, Holland, Switzerland), I don't have a set location that I call home. For me, home is where my family is. However, my favorite place in the world is definitely Geneva, Switzerland! It is a gorgeous place and definitely a great location for taking pictures.

What do you love about photography?

I love everything about photography. I love the sound of the lens focusing, having fun with the people you're photographing, and learning new ways to get the picture you want. I even love editing—I just turn up my music and sit there going through my new raw images. Sometimes there are even perks to carrying around a big camera; once people let me through at a big concert I went to just because they thought I was there to take professional pictures! Luckily for me, I had the best seat in the house and had the chance to take some awesome shots.


But overall, the best part is being able to capture someone's emotions and personality through a camera. If I can capture someone's essence in a single picture, then that's my job well done.

If you could have your dream camera, what would it be?

It would definitely be the beautiful Hasselblad HD2-39. It's an amazing camera and the quality is absolutely remarkable. But it would also leave me $40,000 short! And that's only for the base. I love big lenses as well so I would probably throw in a Hasselblad HC 300mm Telephoto AF lens just for the fun of it!

What advice would you give to new photographers?


I have two little sisters (best friends) who have started every once in a while to use my camera and ask how to work it. Teaching these “new photographers” how to take pictures has made me realize a few things:

1) Practice really does make perfect. If you're not happy with the pictures you're taking right now, then that's totally okay! In just two years I've improved immensely because I practiced, practiced, and practiced some more. Plus, as time goes on, you learn more about your camera and more about the tricks that help you create a better photo.

2) Keep your editing to a minimum. Over-editing can make picture look less sharp and less professional. Depending on your kind of photo, a fair amount of editing can be acceptable, but you've got to be careful. I like a neat, clean, and sharp-looking photo, and I adore black and whites!

3) In the end, the only thing that matters is whether or not you like it. Sometimes people like pictures for personal reasons, even if it generally isn't a really great picture. If you like your picture, keep it. You took it and it's your work of art! No picture is a bad picture if someone likes it—and that's the beauty of photography.

—Lauren Dautel

Nick Boyer, Utah

Nick Boyer
How long have you been a photographer?

I always had an interest in it. I was always interested in art and being creative. Looking back, I would often steal my mom's camera and take some experimental pictures, which caused her confusion when she developed the pictures. So I'd say my interest in it really took off while serving a mission in San Diego because it felt like there were so many new things to see and capture. After that I just kept pursuing my experimental pictures and love for capturing special moments. Along with photography, I work a lot with Photoshop to bring something out of the photo that wasn't there before.

What first piqued your interest in photography?

San Diego. I shot a few pictures that I was really proud of, and it gave me confidence. From there I loved the satisfaction it gave me. I didn't consciously think of it as "Oh, I'm a photographer," but just something I do, like putting my shoes on. I still look at it like that.

What is your photography forte?

It seems that people really like the ones where there are multiple pictures in one juxtaposition, as it’s rarer. The photography world has really taken off, and so it has been easy getting lost in the usual pictures people see. I think the edited ones often stand out stronger. Editing for me feels like painting, and so it feels like I'm sometimes bridging the photography world with the painting or digital art world.

What tip or trick have you learned along the way that made the biggest difference to the quality of your photos?

The standard advice anyone always gives in any field is to just keep going and trying. I think you learn to find your voice as you get better at the skills, and that’s what quality is all about. Always look to others for inspiration. If you get bored it’s because you forget that there are people out there doing things that are amazing. A lot of photography is timing. You have to stay on the lookout because that same old thing you see every day might benefit someone at a different time of the day, different season, or just a different perspective. Take pictures when you aren't sure how they will turn out.

How important is Photoshop in your final image?

Very. I think every picture can be helped a bit by it. Some pictures are so good that you can save them as-is and yet still play with the image for another view of that same original picture. That’s my philosophy. There may be 10 or 20 pictures hidden in that original that you can unlock by your own creativity.

If you could have your dream camera and lens, what would it be?

The most expensive one.

If you could be invisible for one day and shoot anything, what would it be?

I would absolutely love that because there are so many people that I think are just amazing and would make a great picture of the human experience, but I don't want to make them angry. And asking them if it’s okay, well, loses the moment.

Where is your dream location to shoot?

Anywhere and everywhere. I think you can find pictures anywhere, but some places are more photogenic than others. Places by the sea, big cities, older places, colorful places, or just anywhere that’s different.