Get wild with Carol Polich – photography with some bite
Name: CAROL POLICH
Country: MONTANA, USA
What’s in the bag: Canon 7D, Canon 5D Mark II, Canon Lenses – 70-200 F2.8, Canon 500 F4; Sigma Lenses – 10MM fisheye F2.8, 150 macro F2.8, 12-24 F4.5-5.6, 24-70 F2.8
How much time do you spend travelling for photography a year? At least 4-5 months are spent travelling for photography and writing.
Favourite photography subject: I’ve always enjoyed photographing active wildlife behaviour. Watching for key behaviour in wildlife helps you to anticipate action and be that much quicker on the shutter release, and I know how to expose for my medium tones. In other words, I’m quick with the technical side of photography.
In North America, for example, when the bison’s tail goes up, it means either “charge or discharge” and I’ve been behind the camera when either has occurred.
Sand dunes and the desert are my favorite places to be for landscapes. Being aware of nature’s elements is key to surviving the extremes. Dunes can be COLD in the early morning while you’re trekking up the slopes and they can heat up rapidly as the sun rises over the horizon. You don’t want to be in the dunes under the harsh light and very hot sands! Neither do you want the photo desperately enough to ruin the equipment when the wind whips up in the dunes!
Most photographic country? Southern Africa – namely South Africa and Namibia and throughout the American southwest.
What’s the best photo you’ve taken? My library spans 23 years of film and digital in which I have diversified with nature photography. I have many favourites, from sand dunes in Namibia to wildlife in South Africa, from fighting zebras, to snarling lions and not to mention my North American wildlife within Yellowstone National Park. I have several favourites where it’s either an unusual behaviour, or it’s spectacular lighting to help make that image standout within my several thousand image library.
What first got you interested in photography? I’ve always been interested in “taking a nice picture” but never took my imagination or creative eye very seriously. I “fell” into being a pro photographer when on a whim I began selling my photos in South Africa and a few in the USA of landscapes. I still was not serious about photographing until, after 6 years of submissions, my work began to “take off” and catapulted me into the pro photography world – on film, 1997.
What was your first big break? I expected little of my photography in the late 1980s to mid-1990s. It took a film developer to see something beyond what I was seeing in my own work. With his encouragement, I started submitting randomly and selling my photos to postcard, calendar companies and then South African magazines. All the while, as a freelancer, I kept my fingers crossed as to sales. By 1997, I could hardly keep up. Again, this was all freelancing for travel and clothing catalogues, magazines, etc with hundreds of photos within submissions and never knowing if they were going to sell.
I won the 1996 Nat Geo Traveler photo contest with a photo of a Namibian sand dune but this win did not “establish” me. It was more my own “dogged perseverance” and it still is this way to this day!
Tips for budding photographers? First, LEARN the few important functions on the camera.
The greatest input I’ve received thoughout the years has been from the publishers themselves. They know what they’re looking for and can give you these tips in which, when out in the field or travelling to a location, gave me direction and I could then focus on this instead of just shooting away.
I always called on the TELEPHONE and introduced myself or, when on the road, I met with publishers who knew my work but not the person behind the camera.
In the 21st century, it’s much, much more of a challenge because anyone can “take a picture and happy snap”. Everyone has become a professional photographer, but it isn’t true. It has become “computerography” with the actual “art of photography” dead in the ground. The publishers with a discerning eye can see the difference and you, as the photographer, need to have the patience and perseverance to develop the artistic eye as well as the technical side of using the camera.
Practice and build a library. The more you practice you have, the more your eye develops and then evolves. “Friends want to be friends” and most often, they do not have a discerning eye … go to others who have an artistic eye and can be openly critical and can tell you how to improve. You just have to listen and set your ego aside!
Tips for taking photos? Envision what you want to photograph. And then, always POSITION yourself to your subject according to your light source!
Next assignment: My “next assignment” has pushed me into the classroom teaching the different levels of photography, starting with beginners. There is nothing more irritating than to see $1000 plus cameras in anyone’s hands with everyone shooting in P or AUTO modes!
I also enjoy going into the field workshops throughout the western USA. Check out my website www.wildnaturetrails.com and “help push me into my next assignment” … the teaching of the Art of Photography.
More photography reading:
* Where to place your subject
* Some great tips on street photography
* Photographing sunrise and sunset