Get to Know Vanguard Professional William Patino
William Patino is a professional landscape and travel photographer based out of the coastal town of Wollongong Australia. He first picked up a camera in 2012 and hasn't viewed the world the same way since. Will sells his images across the globe, runs photography workshops and is often found working with tourism bodies to experience different destinations around the world.
Read on to get to know Will better...
How did you first discover your love for photography? What made you turn it into a full-time career?
The seed for my love for photography was planted after a vacation to Europe with my wife at the back end of 2011. We had a basic DSLR that we had purchased for the trip so I figured after spending the money I should learn how to use it. I read the entire instruction manual on the long flight over from Australia. Unfortunately, I didn't learn much from the manual haha, but still enjoyed using the camera over there and felt that it helped me get more out of the vacation. Upon returning home I didn't really use the camera again until I happened to download Instagram at the start of 2012. After using the iPhone camera for a while, I eventually dusted off the DSLR again. Soon, I fell in love with photography and the way it opened up my mind and eyes to the world. It really came into my life at a time that I needed it most.
After enough interest in running photography workshops, selling prints and working on social media campaigns, at the start of 2015 I took a leap of faith and quit my career of 8 years as an air con/refrigeration mechanic and am now a full time photographer. I feel so blessed to wake up each day and do what I love for a living.
Your work showcases the awe-inspiring majesty of nature. How do you go about choosing a subject and setting up a shoot?
Thank you! Living on the coast, the ocean is right at my backdoor, so I was naturally led to photograph its beauty. It is, and probably always will be, my main subject just because o the connection I have developed and the solitary moments at sunrise by the sea that I have come to enjoy so much. My camera inspired me to explore and seek out new places to shoot and because of this, I now have deeper appreciation for nature and natural environments. The subjects I seek are generally locations that have a raw, untouched beauty. Places that naturally take your breath away and are often overlooked or less known. I then try to be there when the light is dramatic or dynamic and then convey through an image how I felt being there at the time of pressing the shutter.
What does your post-processing look like?
For a while I avoided using Photoshop and used a very basic program for my processing. I was just passionate about photography and being out with my camera—I didn't want to be sitting at a computer. But once I started shooting RAW, the program couldn't open the files. So, I bit the bullet and slowly taught myself to process in Photoshop. Without a doubt knowing how to edit properly can give your images a more refined, professional look. Editing can either make or break a photo. I am a firm believer in getting everything right in camera so generally my processing is kept to a minimum. A standard image will most likely have tonal adjustments to shadows and highlights, correction of lens distortion and selective contrast and structure adjusting. Due to limitations in camera technology, every so often I will need to blend two images together to capture exactly what my eyes saw when taking the photo. A perfect example is inside a cave when facing the sun. The dynamic range is so high that an exposure will be needed for the shadows in the cave and then a separate exposure for the sky highlights. I always capture these immediately one after the other and then accurately blend them together in Photoshop to represent the reality of what was actually seen. I also sometimes use depth of field blending to achieve an extreme depth of field and keep everything sharp from front to back. Overall I don't have much time or patience for processing!
What essential photography gear do you take with you everywhere you go?
Three things that are essential to me are a camera, lens and tripod. As long as I have that, I'll generally be alright. I mainly use a Sony A7R and Zeiss 21mm f2.8 lens. 90% of my work is in low light with longer exposures so I would be really lost without my tripod. I use the Vanguard Abeo Pro 283CGH, along with the BBH-300 ball head. I love my Abeo Pro because it is sturdy, but also light enough to travel with. Also the ball head is highly responsive and secure. I also use the Skyborne 53 backpack.
You are very involved with teaching workshops. Why is teaching important to you, and how has it affected your perspective on photography?
Before finishing school I thought about being a school teacher. I just had a desire to help kids and wanted to have a positive impact on their lives. It never ended up happening and I found myself being a tradesman. After I began photography and was shooting confidently and was happier with my photos, I decided to offer workshops. I thought it would be a fun way to help others and share something I'm passionate about. I'm really honored to now be regularly hosting both individual and group sessions and travelling to some pretty awesome locations. I find it so rewarding to be able to assist people develop their skills and see them get stoked when they get a great photo. It makes me think a lot more about my own shooting, slowing down and thoughtfully enjoying the process.
You have a huge following on Instagram! What do you like about Instagram, and what have you found is the best way for photographers to use Instagram strategically?
By far the best thing I like about Instagram is the community. It was the first social media platform I joined and it's still my favourite. There's just positive vibes all round and genuine people. I built my following by using the app pretty early on before it was really considered a 'cool' thing to use. It's what got me into photography so I've used it almost daily for three years. My main advice for anyone looking to have a successful channel on there is to just be a decent, honest human and not a business with an agenda. It is 'social' media so if you are not being social then people won't connect very well with you.
Your following on Google+ is similarly humongous. What is it about Google+ you like, and any advice on its use for photographers?
I joined Google+ because I was looking for somewhere else to share my work and really wasn't a fan of Facebook. The images don't get compressed on there and just like Instagram, there is a positive community of people. Regular use, quality content and interaction go a long way on social media platforms so that would be my main advice for using it.
If you had to choose one photo of your own that, at least at this moment, you like best – which would it be and why?
Tough question! It's always changing but I guess it would be some of my older work which I like most just for sentimental reasons not necessarily quality. I have one called 'Meridian' which is a sunrise captured from within a sea cave at a location close to my home. I waited months for the sun to align with the cave entry and then I had to time it with the right tide but also some intense light. After several attempts it all came together. It was the first time I properly planned and executed a photo, and it was rewarding just seeing the image I had in my mind months prior finally materialize. Another favorite is a lightning photo from the same location. It was a shot I thought would take years to capture. But after a few months of little lightning activity and failed attempts, we were hit with some serious storms 5 days in a row. It was probably one of the best chances I would ever get so after a few nights of hiding under an umbrella in the rain, the one bolt I was after flashed through the sky and aligned perfectly with my composition I had lined up. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect strike. I guess both those stand out as some of the more memorable and deeply moving experiences. It's hard to capture and describe what those moments were like to experience.
Any words of advice to aspiring photographers?
My main advice would be to forget about social media or even trying to live off photography. So many people are too worried about followers and aren't experiencing the joy and satisfaction that photography can bring. If you just go out regularly with your camera and try not to be overly influenced by the work of others, but instead seek to create your own work and moments, then you will grow and find contentment. If it is not fun then it is time to put the camera down for a while. I think if I started this all with the intention of making a career out of it, then I would have become frustrated and failed. Landscape photography is an escape, a way to let go of external influences, free your mind and lose yourself in the moment. When this is done, it shows through your work and people will eventually notice.