Clark Monson: Plano, Texas, USA
What first piqued your interest in photography?
I got nostalgic for Chile, where I served a mission, and started looking online for pictures of the Chilean countryside. I found a travel photography forum and was introduced to the beauty of landscape photography. Pretty soon I started to think that maybe with some practice and the right equipment, I could pull off something similar to those pictures. A couple of day trips in the Canadian Rockies with a point-and-shoot digital camera yielded enough decent pictures that I decided to get serious about it. I bought my first camera a couple months later. That was six years ago!
What is your photography forte?
Landscapes, particularly of mountains and lakes.
What tip or trick have you learned along the way that made the biggest difference to the quality of your photos?
I learned how to properly use a polarizing filter. The pop of color and contrast a good polarizer will add to your photos is astounding.
How do you decide what to shoot and how to shoot it?
I do a lot of online research of places I'm visiting or would like to visit. I find out what the places look like and how to get there, and I use online maps and sunrise or sunset times to figure out when the lighting would be best. And then I plan my shoot accordingly.
Where is your favorite location to shoot?
Hands down, the Canadian Rockies. But Utah holds a special place in my heart too—it's where I first learned photography.
What do you love about photography?
I love creating something beautiful. Photography isn't just snapping to a beautiful scene, it's creating beauty. I love that photography gives me another incentive to get out into nature and experience the beauty of this world God has given us. I would never get up at sunrise on my own, but waking up before dawn to photograph allows me to experience nature at its calmest, quietest, and loveliest.
What advice would you give to new photographers?
Join a photography forum; there are many of them online. Find one where the members are interested in helping each other improve rather than just giving thumbs up. Accept criticism with an eye to improvement. Don't get complacent. Being a good photographer requires study, preparation, introspection, hard work, and the ability to click away until you get something good.
No matter the lighting, weather, or subject, you can always come away with a good photograph if you work hard enough for it. It takes time, just like anything. You don't need top-of-the-line equipment for a good photo, but if you have to pick where to spend your money, spend it on good lenses.
What is your favorite lighting?
Golden hour (the hour before sunset or after sunrise) with stormy weather in the distance and the subject bathed in light. There's nothing more beautiful.