Modern mentors and photographers

Mike Drone

No longer a newbie, moving up!
Jun 13, 2020
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Yuma, AZ
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Ansel Adams (1984) is a well known photographer and author that has written an iconic trilogy. Another author and one of my favorite photographers is Fan Ho (2016), but both of these masters of the industry were around in times past. Who is the Ansel Adams of today? Who is it that you look up to and enjoy the works of in modern times? This thread may be very opinionated but it would be awesome to recognize the next books and works of present modern day photographers and artist.
aOnly one that is actually worthy of mention is Joel Sartore.

David Hamilton was famous mainly for the way photos were developed.
Though the work of the Old Masters of realism photography like Adams, Edward Curtis and Dorothea Lange was not only beautiful and historically journalistic, lets not confuse the what they taught us as masters to what the masters of today are doing.
The masters of today are pushing the nvelope with both film and digital and with a very healthy dose of creative computer extremes, as it should be.
I'll list 3 that I greatly admire for the raw creativity and what is possible with today's equipment.
You'll either love them or hate them!!!
Let me know which it is for you?!

manipulation of a photo is not photography. If you get bored go to the micosoft home page and dig through the bunch of crappy advertising ads, and youll see a link to a slide show that was made using period black and white photos from the 1940s and with crappy sci fi spaceships edited into them. Like they was digging up an x wing at roswel
I don't have any modern day mentor (s). I don't really follow any modern day photographers, the ones on here are fine with me. I just go out and shoot for myself and let the chips fall where they may. It is purely a love affair with me and my camera. I enjoy the process and any time I can spend doing it. I don't take myself to seriously and that's fine for me. I pick up little nuggets from a few you tubers I follow but they are not famous, just guys looking to help others.
There are several current photographers that I really enjoy but it’s more of a Facebook/Instagram follow than anything else. Not having any formal education in art/photography, I can’t say I know much about the famous photographers of the past other than the obvious ones. I do really enjoy looking at other people’s work. I find it both inspiring and educational.

I’ve never had a formal mentor. Had a few people through the years who have helped me with specific things I was trying to achieve but not one person or anything that was labeled in any way. TPF had a mentor program at one point but I never participated.
My absolute favorite nature photographer is Neil Simmons: Yellowstone, Wyoming, & Utah

His photos inspired me to plan a trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton

favorite local photographers are Michael Blanchette and Eric Storm

Favorite surrealism photographer is modifyeye

I’m not much into b&w or street photography and there isn’t any one particular abstract/artsy photographer that I’ve found that calls out to me.
Having an in person mentor will take your work to much higher quality than swiping a credit card for a new lens or camera. I have had mentors that transformed my work. Those Duh moments! I have tried to pay it back and was in charge of a mentor program for PPA back in CA. I still try to judge competitions giving detailed critque with my judging. Folks don't know what they don't know. Books and videos are great, but spending a day with someone who has mastered the craft will produce stunning progress. Ten years ago I got to train with Denis Reggie and Joe Buissink who at the time charged 40-50 grand a wedding. Submitted the first shot I took when I got back home 3000 miles away and won 3 best in class and best in show in a professional competition. Want to make great strides in photography, get a mentor who can review your work, spend some time observing and shooting with you so can evaluate what needs addressing, give you some things to work on that will really improve your work then come back a month or so later for review. The quality of your work will soar. Way more than some hunk of gear.
manipulation of a photo is not photography. If you get bored go to the micosoft home page and dig through the bunch of crappy advertising ads, and youll see a link to a slide show that was made using period black and white photos from the 1940s and with crappy sci fi spaceships edited into them. Like they was digging up an x wing at roswel
FP, I suppose you're response is in reaction to my post?
Funny you should mention Roswell, NM! LoL
One of the most manipulated photos of all time was taken only a few miles from there. I am, of course, referring to the Master of manipulation himself, Ansel Adams and his highly manipulated, Moon Rise Over Hernandez!
I guess when Adams got bored, he dove into his darkroom and manipulated pics!!! LoL
BTW, I'm a huge fan of Adams!!!
Sharpshooter, before I left Folsom, Ca for Florida, I made a near annual trek to Yosemite around Valentines Day to photo the firefall on El Capitan, the shot that Galen Rowell, an associate of Ansel made famous. In my shot, the falls didn't turn cherry red, the wall did. I like the angle from the parking lot that makes the front buttress a right triangle in lower left, the blue sky one in upper L and the wall a parallelogram. But it needed another geometric shape. I passed on shooting the full moon that was over Half Dome that night and in honor of Ansels moon, added a full moon to the sky. So the shot is an homage to ansel, galen and ernst haas who also taught there who said he didn't want to shoot new things, instead wanted to shoot things in a new way.
The best photographers, is an extremely opinionated ideal, because it not only involves the personnel preferences of a type of photography but also the medium of reproduction.

I chuckle when folks distain digital post process and praise the purity of film. My personal hero, Ansel Adams, describes it best in his book trilogy.

When Ansel shot a scene, he was not intending to duplicate what he saw but to present what he was envisioning in his head. Before, he pressed the shutter release, he drew upon his decades of knowledge. He knew what filters and their effect on specific brands of film. He knew how much each of his favorite films could be pushed or pulled by various developers. He knew that grade of photo paper he intended burn and dodge based on his expected negative density. Rare indeed is the individual that has mastered his methods.

As digital replaced film the software gurus found ways to not only simulate these effects but to introduce additional effect not possible with film.

So determining the current masters, it is a little like comparing apples and oranges or Bach and Bluegrass or the best beer. I always suggest looking at all the present photographic art works and study the artist or artists you like.

Good Luck
I look up to a magazine creator/ editor named Riley Johndonnell, who co-founded Surface Magazine in the 90's, and decided to mentor me in 2012 after I randomly stopped him to take his portrait on the streets of San Francisco (I had never met him before this). He had a significant effect on my views and approach to art and photography. I also very much look up to Michael Thompson, a fashion photographer who was trained by Irving Penn. Riley introduced us and I became his intern in 2014, and he completely changed the way I see light and the importance and application of creativity and style in portraits. I also look up to Rob Woodcox, a very close friend who I would consider to be one of the most talented and creative photographers of this generation. I think it's important to have talented mentors and a high standard for inspiration if a photographer wants to push themself to improve and evolve. I honestly credit my career and style as a photographer to these mentors.

Riley's Work:

Michael Thompson's work:

Rob's work:
Dan, mine were Denis Reggie and Joe Buissink. Guys who in 2011 were charging 40 grand a wedding. I traveled 3,000 miles to study with them and when I returned home entered my first pro competition, took 3 classes, best in show and one of 10 best photos of the year. But not so famous folks shaped my work as well, encouraged me and opened my eyes.
Probably my biggest influence is Colin Prior: Colin Prior | Portfolio, Shop and Workshops

I've been lucky enough to go on a few of his workshops and have been very impressed with his knowledge, not only of photography, but of the landscape as well. Colin has been showing people Scottish landscapes in a light that people are not used to, and built a carrer out of it. His post processing is minimal, and he's all about the natrual beauty of the environment. I hold him in very high esteem though he's very down to earth as a person.

Mark Littlejohn: Mark Littlejohn is another guy I really like, he gets great lighting on a lot of shots which I really admire.

Gavin Hardcastle: Landscape Photography by Gavin Hardcastle - Fototripper is someone I watch a lot on youtube, I find his content really entertaining and informative

Nigel Danson: Landscape Photography by Nigel Danson | UK is another photographer I watch quite a bit on youtube, he's got great explainations on his process and particularly post

Andy Grey: Andrew S. Gray Photography probably one of the most different landscape photographers in the UK at the moment, his ICM photography is turneresque and quite inspirational. He's got some real quality shots and carved out a niche for himself
Three photographers whose work I've enjoyed lately are Anne Belmont for her flower photography, Judy Hancock Holland for her minimalism particularly, and Thomas Heaton for his landscapes. I see the names of many other photographers with whose work I am not familiar, so I will certainly check them out.

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