Alexander Ladanivskyy first took up a camera 15 years ago and finally ended up being a well-known travel photographer who leads tours around the picturesque places of our planet.
The first genre that Alexander Ladanivskyy mastered was wedding photography. However, he was cramped within the framework of one genre. Instead, he tried his hand in all the possible genres of photography, including steampunk futurism photography.
Alexander Ladanivskyy never says that photography is his job, and his current profession is more of a traveler than a person with a camera. However, Alexander shoots for Discovery and actively manages his Instagram on travel photography (with more than 220 thousand subscribers there).
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For 15 years, I’ve only used Nikon equipment, but not because I consider it the best technology in the world. Like most photographers, I’m used to a certain logic in the work of my equipment. Switching from one system to another is very difficult and expensive.
Now I have a Nikon D850 camera. I also have a number of lenses: 24mm, 50mm, 85mm, 70-200mm and I don’t have my favorite one among them. My choice depends on the task. Since I have been doing landscape and travel photography for the last two years, 90% of my work is panoramic photography. The viewer sees my picture but does not realize that it may be made of three, five, or ten different photos. Focus and distance play a secondary role in this case.
Travel pictures editing
I use Lightroom for color correction and PhotoShop for other tasks. I try to spend a minimum amount of time editing photos, but editing panoramic photos takes longer because I deal with a combination of multiple images. I can edit one photo in a few minutes or it can take even an hour or more.
The technical aspect is important for panoramic shots. The panorama can be taken with a tripod or without it. The latter option means that you will have to put even more effort into editing. And it takes around 3 minutes to edit portraits for me.
I have been in travel photography for only three years. Before that, I dealt with various genres, including portrait, still life, and abstract photography. I call my current style ‘travel pictures’. I show nature and emphasize the contrast between the scale of natural objects and the size of a human. That’s why it is not purely classic landscape photography, but more in the genre of ‘travel’. In my photos, you can see people and feel the visual power of nature at the same time.
Sources of inspiration
I don’t have a specific person or film that influenced me as a photographer. And at the same time, I was influenced by everything around me. Especially adventure movies. For example, as a child, I loved watching Indiana Jones movies, and today some say that I follow his image even in life: I also travel in a special leather hat. I am also influenced by music which adds to everything that I do.
If we take my photos from three years ago and compare them to what I do now, the transformation of my style is noticeable. However, analyzing my recent photos, I usually can’t capture any personal trends.
Another thing is about older photos taken in other genres. Quite often I don’t like my old photos, which seemed good before. They are boring for me. One photographer shared with me the opinion that this situation is normal for those who are developing. On the contrary, if someone likes their old photos, it means that the person is frozen in their artistic development.
There is tremendous progress in photography education: many courses are available online and are free. What I have learned in 10 years, modern beginners master in just a year. Even two years are enough for them to develop their own style and achieve a high quality of photos. Ten years ago, I did not have so much information at hand, I learned from my mistakes.
However, practice is still critical. Let’s take wedding photography. You can learn how to work in perfect lighting conditions and with perfect composition, and then come to a real wedding and face a lot of surprises like limited time, poor lighting, and awful interiors.
When it comes to landscape photography, keep in mind that sometimes for the perfect lighting for shooting you should wait for days, nights, and even months! In Chile, I waited three days for this! But the higher your skill, the easier it is for you to take a good photo.
In general, you need to use every opportunity to gain knowledge. I constantly go to courses and study online.
Travel photography challenges
I believe that my most important shot has not yet been taken. At the same time, all my shots are special, because behind each of them there is an interesting story. There are shots that are easy to take: I saw an interesting object, stopped, got out of the car, took a picture, and drove on.
And there are shots for which I had to climb mountains for days, spend the night outside, get wet and freeze. However, your audience will never guess about that from your photo. Most likely, these people will think that you just went somewhere, pressed a button and that’s it.
The last thing I remember is the record-breaking shooting, the first wedding shoot in the Arctic Circle.
Now my main profession is not photography, but organizing trips around the world. And the countries I travel to with my team are Scandinavia, Norway, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands. Photographs of ice caves were taken in Iceland inside Europe’s largest glacier.
We regularly go to Iceland in the winter to walk on the glacier, watch the Northern Lights, and look for ice caves. Such objects exist for only a year, and then melt and turn into new ones. This journey is unique as it allows you to take photos in a place that will eventually disappear forever [Alexander’s shoot of ice caves was reposted by Leonardo DiCaprio on Instagram].
Photography for beginners
My practical advice for novice photographers is to shoot every day. 15 years ago I just took my camera and walked around the city. I shot everything I saw: trees, people, objects. I randomly photographed everything I liked, not knowing whether it was good or bad. Then I came home and analyzed my shots.
Why did I do that? I set a goal to do at least five shots a day for a year to train myself and my artistic vision. When I started doing it, it was a little difficult for me. I shot a lot and could hardly appreciate the artistic quality of the photos. But now it’s easier: you can shoot and immediately post everything on social networks. There your works will be seen by your friends, acquaintances, and thousands of strangers. By their reaction, you will understand what works and what doesn’t.
The importance of outside perspective
You may like your photo a lot, but you can’t fool other people. If it is not appreciated by the audience, then it lacks the atmosphere or something else is missing.
There are many sites for photographers where you can get a dose of constructive and professional critics. Social media users have a slightly different vision: they either like the photo or they don’t. Photographers have experience. They can tell you how to improve the composition of color and where to direct your effort.
Today it is important to showcase your portfolio in any possible way. Say ‘I exist! I take photos, videos, or whatever. ‘ In some cases, this may work, and in others, it will give you a clue of how to modify your approach.
One of the development indicators for me is my contract with Discovery, where photos are used for non-commercial purposes. If Discovery chooses a certain picture for publication, it is a great one, because it has been appreciated by people who have been working in this field for a long time. However, when I was approached by people from Discovery for the first time, it was about a photo that I myself did not appreciate too much.
How to keep being in demand
To be in demand, you need to keep up with the times. And if you are a professional, it often happens by itself. You just keep developing and adapting to the changing times. In other words, a professional is one who does not degrade and keeps developing regardless of the technology he or she uses.
I can recall a few photographers whose photos were taken at a high level 15 years ago. Some of them remained at the same level, although their industry went further. Such people are stuck at a certain level.
Instead, those who remain in demand for years are constantly striving for development and looking for something new. No matter how your genre and technology are transformed, if you take great pictures with a camera, you can take great pictures with a smartphone or other devices. It is important to have a certain artistic vision and to treat the camera as a tool.
Personal creative сode
Photography means creativity. The less you follow certain rules, the higher your chances of making a unique shot. If you pursue standards and rules, you begin to limit yourself. For example, there is an opinion that you should shoot landscapes in the morning or in the evening. Also, certain lenses are often named ‘portrait lenses’.
However, breaking the rules is only necessary for a specific purpose. You can take portraits on a wide-angle lens or shoot landscapes on a sunny afternoon because that’s what you like. If this is your creative vision, then you’d better follow it. Once you’ve taken your image, you can judge whether it is good or bad.
I don’t have shooting rules, my photography experience is rather emotional. Sometimes I can lose the chance for a great ‘classic’ shot because I want to look at the sunset with my own eyes, not through my lens.
Self-promotion for a travel photographer
One should develop their social media accounts with love. I create posts when I feel inspired to do so: I choose a topic, a photo, edit it, and make a post. I do it sincerely, not because I have to. People feel this because such posts are not like advertising.
The advantage of social networks for me is that they force you to live up to your own set standards and constantly improve your photos while developing as a professional. So these are two basic rules: social networks should be managed with love and that they have to give you a boost to self-development.
In addition, people who subscribe to you because they like your work can share their impressions with you. This inspires photographers and shows them the direction of further development.
Instagram and Facebook changing modern photography
Any social network, including Instagram and Facebook, has an impact on photography. Let’s take travel photography where this influence is extremely noticeable. Decades ago, people did not travel so actively. In those days, going to Iceland was cosmically expensive, and now such a trip is quite affordable. The same applies to countries in Africa and Latin America, where only a few desperate people used to go before.
Instagram inspires people to travel and share their travel content. It shows what you can do, where you can go, and what you can see there. This social network inspires travelers and photographers who can develop their style by borrowing successful tricks from amateur photographers.
In the near future, nothing fundamentally new will appear, and nothing will disappear in the world of photography. Photography has existed for a hundred years and will continue to exist. Only technology will change. Traditional artistic principles will keep being popular, but the way photographs work and the trends they follow will be transformed into something new.
For example, ten years ago I took a picture of the bride ‘on the palm of the groom’. This composition was considered witty and cool, everyone was delighted with it. Today, people laugh at such photos. I think in the next ten years another audience will laugh at modern wedding photography. However, photography remains photography, there are only trends and technological advantages that appear.
Explore Alexander Ladanivskyy’s portfolio on Depositphotos here.
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