Luke Pearsall is professional photographer with many years of experience in film industry. When leading tours across South America he caught a travel bug and since then he always feels the urge to travel. His travel work and travel writing is driven by a desire to share the world through travel, photography, video and authentic experiences in hopes to inspire others to see new things, explore more and live a life less ordinary.
I got my start in photography during the summer of my Junior year in high school. I grew up in a beautiful beach town on the Jersey Shore and had the opportunity to start taking college courses at the local community college the summer before my Senior year. Like most high school kids burned out from a long year in the classroom I just wanted to make something fun that I might be interested in. This was 1999, and digital photography was still in its infancy, and the course was a 35mm film course, so I borrowed an old SLR camera from a neighbor and signed up for the course.
The rest of that summer was the summer I fell in love with making images. I learned how to develop my own film, how to print my own prints and became enamored with the idea of learning more. I was the president of my class, an honors student and athlete. My whole life all I wanted to do was compete to be the best student so one day I could get into a prestigious school and get a good job. I was one of those kids. The sort that you kinda hate to a certain degree when they raddle off their college resume of clubs and activities they were part of. That summer course changed it all for me.
When I first started making photographs and working with models many years ago it was much harder. Believe it or not social media wasn’t really a thing so connecting with people to collaborate with was much more difficult. If you wanted to work with real talent you had to get into the good graces of modeling agencies and hope that they had some new talent that needed pictures. When a model, photographer, makeup artist or stylist work together collaborating through and agency its called a Test Shoot. I did test shoots until I was blue working for free and building my book. Every shoot you do you get better, learn something new and take away something from. I get asked often how you get better at making portraits or shooting landscapes. The best advice I can give anyone is to just keep shooting. The more you do it the better you get at it. You will find a better command of the tools and understanding of what you like and what resonates with you as an artist creating your own unique style. Doing something over and over again is the only way to discover and master those things.
In the social media driven landscape of imagery these days its really hard to not look at what is popular or the accounts of creators and not see the same exactly looking images, in the same exact places, with the same exact presets applied to the images. It’s become so formulaic that it drives me crazy. Even though many of these photos are beautiful they all just sort of seem basic to me. What I am really drawn to are people who are telling that same story but in a different way. Someone that puts thoughtful time and effort in to actually making a photograph. You can always tell when someone woke up early to get the best light or went the extra mile to climb higher than everyone else to get a different perspective. A good picture makes you stop. An average picture makes you scroll or stroll right on by. For me the pictures I find the most interesting are the ones which use foreground as a layer to draw the eye to the subject. Foreground, subject and background are so important, they are the layers that you have to work with so finding creative ways to manipulate them is what makes an average photo good and a good photo great to me.
Three years ago I did a photo project while hiking 550 miles across Spain on the Camino de Santiago. I’ve been working on a book project for the trip recently and am very excited to share it one day in the future. The hike took me 29 days and an additional three days to reach the coast. The landscape of Northern Spain is beautiful, the food was incredible but the people I met along the way were by far the most special part of the journey. When you hike a route that has been around since Roman times you run into little treasures of history all along the way. I would recommend this hike to anyone of any age. It will change you life, as it did mine.
I think that many photographers would answer this question the same way that I am going to. It really doesn’t matter what kind of equipment you use. An iPhone can make an image that is just as beautiful as a three thousand dollar camera.
I personally just switched from Canon cameras to Sony. For travel and adventure work you really can’t beat the size, weight, and power of a Sony Camera. They are doing amazing things with their technology that allows photographers to work more efficiently and at a higher rate of speed. Sony is also creating a wonderful community of creators through the Sony Alpha Collective which has been so wonderful to experience.
If I was talking to a beginning who wanted to get a camera to start with I would personally would say look for a camera that shoots videos and stills and has interchangeable lenses. If you could have one lens only to start I would choose a 24-70mm f2.8 lens on a full frame camera. It gives you the most focal range from a wide to a medium portrait lens. I think a great middle of the road camera for beginners is the Sony Alpha A6000 series cameras. They are the perfect combination for a video and photo and produce excellent quality images and video.
A large majority of the gear I use can be found on this link. It is my adventure gear, outdoor gear and photography and video gear lists. Feel free to check it out.