Q: How did you get into action sports and adventure photography?
I got into the industry by chance. Growing up in New Hampshire, I fell in love with snowboarding and later got involved in surfing when I moved to California. I enrolled at a junior college for kicks and took a photography class on a whim. My teacher was a surfer and talked me into combining my love for the sport with my love for photography and it all just kind of worked out.
Q: There’s a certain authenticity to your portraits that’s hard to miss. Tell us a little about that process.
I’ve never enjoyed photography that was fabricated. If there’s anything that is really authentic, then I’m really into it. I don’t like images being manipulated too much. For me, photography is less about art and more about story telling, and everything’s got an amazing story, even the most simple things to look at. If you can look for that story in someone, then that will come out in portraits.
Celebrities are always the least interesting people, it’s always your every-day Joe that has the best stories and takes the best portraits. You just have to listen for it and then take it. The more you listen for those stories, then the more that comes across in your portraits over time.
Q: Before LYTRO ILLUM, had you experimented with new camera technologies?
Oh God no! I was probably the last person in action sports and adventure photography to switch over to digital. When I was freelancing as a surfer, people bet real money that I would be the last action sports photographer to switch. I hung onto film for so long it is ridiculous.
Digital in itself – learning how to use DSLRs, the retouching process, and learning how to use all of information in the files – is constantly overwhelming. I don’t think there’s any way to master digital no matter what, which is a really awesome part of our craft. You can’t do it all no matter who you are.
So this is the first time I’ve ever ventured into using a brand new technology.
Q: How does LYTRO ILLUM change the way you set up your shots?
Everything about shooting on LYTRO ILLUM is different. It isn’t just different technology; literally every single element in the camera is different. It is super exciting and ultimately has made me like the camera even more, because it challenged the way I think about photography.
In terms of composing my shots, I have had to do everything differently. For 35 years, I’ve just used my eyes to compose my shots. With LYTRO ILLUM, you can’t just look at things the way you always have. So, I have had to learn how LYTRO ILLUM sees the world and then change my ideas to fit the camera. It’s a lot different than how I normally compose shots and I love the results! The camera has forced me out of my own box.
Q: What role will LYTRO ILLUM play in the world of photography?
The way people consume images is changing. We’re getting to the point when people don’t even read printed magazines anymore. Magazines are never going to go away, and they’ve all gone online, which leaves a lot of room for creativity. And you’re getting a camera in LYTRO ILLUM that attacks the exact format that everybody wants to consume now. They want a digital touch. I think the ability for people to be able to interact with photos is a big deal!
Check out Brian Nevins’ pictures taken with LYTRO ILLUM.