Justin Serpico [MountainVisions]
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I started shooting photography as a passion in college after a lifelong interest in the medium. Self taught and still learning, I initially thought of photography as a creative outlet for those without traditional artistic talent. However, I learned in short time that capturing meaningful and emotion evoking images is far more than mastering the technical aspects of photography. In the end, photography done right is only a technical pursuit during the short time the exposure is set and shutter is pressed. In reality, photography is no more a technical pursuit than painting, or sculpting. All require tools, but all require a vision to create a compelling final product.
While I've evolved from a snap shooter documenting my adventures, capturing he world of my adventures through the lens of my camera is still fun and exciting over a decade later. Most of my photography is done on in the backcountry far from cars and roads. While this doesn't necessarily make the image any more or less compelling to the viewer, I feel I am able to create compelling images because I look at the scenes I photograph as a participant rather than a voyeur.
While I believe a photograph should be an extension of reality with as few manipulations as possible, the photographer must have a vision to transform what is a spectacular 3D world before them into a spectacular 2D photograph that evokes the same emotion to the viewer that the photographer originally felt.
I'm not a fan of manipulation but I don't see an issue with using traditional wet darkroom techniques in the dry lightroom. I also don't see an issue with using digital capture to it's fullest advantages by shooting RAW, using digital GND filtration, and dispensing with optical filters when they can be replaced. For the most part the only filter in my digital bag is a polarizer, which often doubles as a neutral density filter. In my film bag I still carry GND filtration as well, as warming filters.
I shoot sports, travel, and adventure photography, as well as some photojournalism which is where I actually got my start in the mid 1990s.
Although I've turned into a photographer, I think of myself far less as a photographer, and more as an adventurer carrying a camera. Wilderness and the backcountry are a place for me to recharge my battery. While I truly admire those shooting larger format film on the roadside or (with more admiration) deep in the backcountry, because of the participatory nature of my photography, I primarily shoot 35mm film and digital format.
35mm film and digital has for decades been the ultimate compromise in quality to portability. The system can handle fast action, delicate landscapes, and everything in between without being an albatross to the photographer. I shoot this small format like people shoot larger formats. I always tripod mount, I always use mirror lockup and a cable release, and gauge my depth of field with care to use the optimal aperture to reduce diffraction on this smaller format. While this format will never rival the ability to print exceptionally large detailed images that larger formats can handle, it's versatility for photographers with a wide range of subject matter, and in need of portability is unparalleled.
In the end, photography and my adventures share a symbiosis that fuel one another, and the goal is still to bring home a few compelling images from each one!