Photographer Spotlight: Simon Fraser

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What gear do you have in your arsenal?

I am a Canon fan from way back, and currently use the 5D Mk 3 which I absolutely love. I upgraded from a Mk 1 about 18 months ago and the difference is incredible. Before that I had an old 350D, so took the jump to a full frame sensor and would not go back now. I have a range of lens, from a 17-40mm wide angle for landscapes, to a 24-105mm for flexibility, and up to 70-200mm to give me some reach. I also have a Sigma f1.4 50mm which is beautiful and a 90mm Tamron macro which I have had for years. I also have a solid Manfrotto tripod, and lots of other bits and bobs – Cokin filters, additional batteries, wet weather gear etc. All in all I have just about all I need really.

Recently when I went overseas (to South Africa) I really wanted a longer lens to capture the wildlife but really could not justify the outlay, so hired a 100-400mm and it was brilliant – for a few hundred dollars I suddenly had that extra reach I needed. I hardly used anything else on that trip.

When you go on one of your travels, what is a must that you must take with you?

I confess that I am one of those people that probably takes too much, for those ‘just in case’ situations. I really need to get more comfortable and rationalize my kit when traveling. It means I am often carrying most of my kit with me in a backpack and so have to leave some other essentials at home, or worse still rely on my poor wife to carry some of the load.

In terms of must-have though, I would say spare batteries and a charger, and mid-sized memory cards (e.g. 8-16GB). You never know when you will run out of power so its best to be prepared and backed up. Similarly, memory cards are so cheap these days, I would kick myself if I missed an opportunity simply because I ran out of storage.

What do you enjoy shooting the most?

By far and away I love photographing landscapes the most. There is that element of changeability meaning that it could be different from one day to the next, and so I am regularly blown away by some of the beauty I see. One morning I went to shoot a new location along the north beaches of Sydney – it poured with rain all the way there and I was worried it would be a wash out. When I got there the conditions were the best I have ever experienced – there was me and 2 other guys, and I think we were all a little stunned by it all. Then we got soaked. A couple of week’s later, conditions were completely different and as a result, entirely different photos.

If I were to be brutally honest, I don’t have a huge amount of experience with portraiture etc. so that scares me a little! I love seeing the work of people that do that – it makes me very jealous. But I do love to try new things and take opportunities, like taking the photos of my friends beloved little puppy.

I do feel that whatever photography you are into, and whatever level of experience, the most important things are to enjoy it and to just get out there. I love reading up and being inspired by other peoples’ work, or learning new techniques, but nothing beats having a go, failing and learning from it. At the end of the day, it’s the enjoyment and what you’re happy with that’s the most important.

What inspires you to keep shooting?

There are 2 things that get me up in the morning. Most importantly, I just really enjoy it; most of the photography I do at the moment are dawn shoots, which means that I often wake up at ridiculous times to capture the early light. But I wouldn’t miss it for the world. There have been so many times where I have finished a shoot and realized that I have seen the best part of the day, something that 99.9% of other people have missed. Even if I don’t get that one photograph that I wanted, I can still walk away with a huge smile on my face. You get to see different conditions and locations, clear your head after a hectic week, and meet people that have a similar interest.

Probably the other thing that really keeps me going is seeing the finished product and the feeling that I have nailed it, particularly when you have realized an idea that you have had in your mind for a long time. One of the most satisfying shots I took was of the underside of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on a really foggy morning – I had the idea for probably 12 months before the conditions were right. I have just had the photograph framed and I absolutely love it every time I look at it.

Do you sell your photos?

I try to! I have my own website which has been up for a while now, but I have only very recently set up the eCommerce platform for it. I had wanted to keep it bespoke which is why I only recently added the functionality, but in reality if people want to buy your photographs you should make it as easy as possible.

I think that the best way to sell photographs is making it easy for people to see them in the flesh, rather than online. When I have printed a few sets recently I have had far more interest that through my site simply because people can actually see and feel them. As a result I do have some of my work in local cafes and shops which gives me some great additional exposure.

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