We had a chance to interview J.T. Norton, a noted wildlife and motor sports photographer in the greater Orlando, FL area. This is what he had to say:
LaPrade: "Can you tell us something about photography in general in this modern world?"
Norton: "Photography is growing technologically at a rate that is mind boggling and it can even seem to be doing so at a daily pace. The problem is that technology has taken control of the user instead of the user controlling the technology. This in my opinion is causing the understanding of photography itself to decrease at an alarming rate. What we are left with is a whole bunch of really great pictures and very few photographs. The other problem as I see it is the lack of understanding of the user’s personal needs, equipment knowledge, subject matter understanding and the market that some are trying to sell to, if you are in the business side of it anyways."
LaPrade: "Do you have any recommendations for general use?"
Norton: "Stop buying DSLRs useless you are planning to become a serious or even semi-serious shooter. An advance zoom camera will serve you much better and give you zoom options without you having to dump money into more lenses and a really good lens is not cheap. The old saying “It is all in the user and not the EQ” is horse c***! If you are planning on photographing the North American Hovering Butt Fly then you will need more than that $150.00 dollar 300mm macro lens you bought at Uncle Bill-bob’s hock and pawn."
LaPrade: "Do you think photography can be academic or that one needs a more hands on approach?"
Norton: "Read the d*** manual and then practice using the features. You can take all the classes you want, which are a good thing but if you do not get out and shoot a lot of pictures you will never learn anything."
LaPrade: "Why is it important to research your photography topic?"
Norton: "Know your subject matter so you will know your environment and can adjust to the conditions. If you are shooting models and have no clue on how to direct a model then you will end up with a lot of just "BLAH" pictures. Trust me if you do not know the habits of the American Alligator (my favorite subject by the way) and then decide to go photograph them you are in for a rude awakening, if you ever wake up again."
LaPrade: "Do you have any tips for the photography market?"
Norton: "This applies to the art show people as well; if you are taking your wildlife pictures to the local fauna show you may not sell too many. Go to the shows and see what the other 'artist(s)' are doing or make sure the show fits your style. You want to be different but you want to watch for what the patrons are looking at. This will let you know what is going to attract attention and just because you prefer it does not mean others will unless of course you are just doing for yourself…which is fine!… happy - happy – joy - joy and move on."
LaPrade: "Do you think there is such a thing as 'selling out'?"
Norton: "There are those that may say by "not doing what YOU want to do" a person is selling out. I believe this opinion is wrong unless you are copying someone else work or doing something you really have no interest in doing just for the dollar. If you are doing something solely for the money then I would more than likely agree with the statement regardless of what you are doing. I could very easily go into pornographic images and make a fortune even with all the c*** that is already out there. I honestly do not want my name attached to that kind of material. So know your market or think of it this way… Have you ever tried to sell a Suzuki to a Harley lover…?... if they do buy it you may not want to ask them what they plan to do with it!"
LaPrade: "How do you feel about the influx of images floating around today?"
Norton: "I love it because it allows us to see so much of the world around us. The more pictures the better and I get a kick out if it when someone grabs that image that really impacts the world and sends the comments and likes flying off the charts. I love seeing a great image just as much as taking one and could also care less what you took it with."
LaPrade: "Does the competition in this field bother you?"
Norton: "Nope, it does not bother me at all, because I do not see it as competition. I see it as someone else doing what they like to do. I have confidence in my abilities to deliver a quality image with quality content. I do not claim to be the master be-all of photography so I’m not bothered or intimidated by others. I enjoy looking through the images of others even if we were at the same event together. I learn from all types of influences and will take what I see and if it can teach me something new then I will apply it my own work in my own way. As long as I agree with the technique being used and that it will benefit the viewer’s experience of my work. If we put our work out there, then the viewer must be our first consideration in the images we capture."
LaPrade: "Do you have any pet peeves with photography or other photographers?"
Norton: "The only thing that bothers me is when other photographers are “Chimping” and I see them miss a shot because of it. If I cannot get the shot I want someone to get it! It happened over this past weekend I watched a photographer in a much better position than I was, miss an AWESOME opportunity because the person was too busy looking at their camera reviewing the shots they just took. Aka: “Chimping” Frustrating … but hey what can you do, other than hope you do not make that same mistake."
LaPrade: "Is there anything else that you want to say?"
Norton: "I have artistic abilities beyond the camera and enjoy those creations just as much as the photographs I capture. We never stop learning and by observing others who do this I can learn from them and then apply it to my style. I have no problem complementing a great photograph taken by another photographer not because I think they may be better than me. It is a matter of respect for anyone that is doing what they love to do and has just clicked an outstanding image!"
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