In Their Own Words

In Their Own Words

I came across the video below on David Hobby’s site (which happens to be one of the first things I check every morning). In it, photographer Nadav Kander talks about his approach to photography, how he deals with his subjects, and more.

Now, I love gear. I pretty-much eat, sleep, and breathe photography gear. I write about it, I advise our customers and staff about it, I test it, use it, abuse it, and love it. I am, in every sense of the word, a gearhead.

Creativity, however, isn’t a function of gear. It is, rather, related directly to your imagination and your eye, and those are fed by seeing the work of other photographers, talking to them, and learning from them. 

Now, behind-the-scenes videos are my not-so-guilty pleasure. I pore over them incessantly, watching for everything from the big picture of how these photographers work, to tiny nuances in their lighting adjustments, client interactions, camera positioning, posing, and a myriad of other details.

These videos, however, don’t always give you an insight into the photographers mindset, or his creative approach, or his thought process. Sometimes, what’s needed is that same photographer standing in front of a crowd for a bit, just talking and showing them images.

Narratives about a shooter’s experiences are perhaps one of the most valuable learning tools we have at our disposal. To that end, I present, for your edification, a couple of my favorite photographers talking about their work. Similar to the video above with Nadav Kander, these videos are more along the lines of lectures, rather than technique how-tos.

First, we have Joe McNally. Back in 2008, Joe was invited to the Google campus to talk about his book, “The Moment It Clicks.” I chose this talk from the vast number of videos out there featuring Joe because (a) It’s an hour long and it’s rare to get Joe to stay in one place for that long, and (b) this was less about gear and technique, which Joe is often asked to talk about (a travesty, because the man’s experiences are an absolute gold mine).

The second video I chose is one of Gregory Heisler talking about the great Arnold Newman. Gregory is, to me, one of the most incredible photographers on the planet today, and hearing him speak of the things that influenced him is another invaluable learning tool.

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Joe and Gregory are two of my absolute favorite photographers of all time, and I tend to hang on their every word. There’s over two hours of video here, and these guys are absolutely worth it.

I’ll leave you with a bit of humor, courtesy of Joe.

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Sohail Mamdani is a writer, filmmaker, and photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter or find him at

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