this week i’m very excited to introduce you to taylor davidson – one of the most interesting photographers i know. taylor is a professional conference and event photographer, and when he’s not shooting, he’s a strategy consultant who focuses on financial and business strategies in technology and creative media. while events are his focus, taylor expertly shoots a wide range of images and brings a story telling aspect to all of his work. in my book i talk about what your camera captures, and what you, the person, bring to the image that no one else can. for a great example of this, look at taylor’s images below and you won’t just see the scene… you’ll get to know something personal about the person, the photographer. enjoy this interview and his amazing images. to see more of his work and connect with taylor, check out the following sites:
- website: taylordavidson.com
- events: narratively.com
- portfolio: taylordavidson.com/portfolio.html
- projects: taylordavidson.com/projects.html
- twitter: @tdavidson
JC: Do you have a mission as a photographer? If yes, what is it?
TD: My mission is to love to shoot what I see.
Here’s what I mean: we’re all photographers, in a way. We see photos everyday all around us, throughout media, hanging on walls, billboards, advertisements online and offline. Some of them strike us, grab us and make us think about them, but most get a glance at best. And with so many of us having cameras of one sort or another (camera, point-and-shoot, DSLR, etc.), everyday we take pictures of things that strike us, experiences and moments we want to remember and share.
I often pass someone taking a picture, thinking about what they are taking while I walk by. I used to judge them. And I’m sure many people look at me when I’m taking pictures in public, wondering what I’m taking a picture of, judging me. Stop judging. Stop worrying. Enjoy taking pictures of what you like. Enjoy taking and sharing your experiences through photos. Everyone will tell you what to shoot, what to see and what to like, but photography is for you. Shoot what you see. And love doing it.
JC: Describe your photographic style or philosophy.
TD: I’m an observer. I have a photojournalistic style, one of watching life as it goes by, looking at the stories, people, interactions and spaces, and looking for the ones that strike me. I love taking cityscapes and landscapes because I like picking out moments, finding one small thing to remember out of everything that passes by, picking out the empty moments or the emptiness in the denseness of life. I tend to pay more attention to what has come and gone than what is there at the moment; that’s why most of my pictures are of spaces created, lived in and molded by us, but temporarily abandoned or forgotten. On the other hand, I like taking pictures at events because I like finding the moments that people will want to remember far after the event ends. Same eye, put to use in different ways.
JC: What are you working on these days? Where is your focus?
TD: A couple of things: I’m focused on business and event photography through my agency Narratively, and I’m working on structuring more of my landscapes and cityscape projects into a couple books to release in the next two years. I’m also planning on sharing more of my knowledge through workshops and mentoring other photographers.
JC: What do you love most about today’s technology? How have or haven’t you taken advantage of it?
TD: I love that it’s so easy to take a picture, modify it, and share it. Some will say that the increased availability of cameras and the increased easiness to modify and share photos with everyone, instantaneously, has cheapened photography. While it’s definitely changed our perceptions of what a “good picture” is, it’s helped spread the joy of photography to millions more people. Overall, that’s a good trade.
I grew up shooting film, and worked in darkrooms processing and printing images. But the biggest change in how I took pictures came when I started shooting digitally. Being able to take a picture and review it instantly allowed me to learn much faster than ever before. The immediate feedback loop between what I thought I saw and how I was able to present it made me a better photographer. And I’m continuing to learn everyday.
I love that the web has allowed me to see so much more images than ever possible, from so many different people, topics, styles. And I love that social media has allowed me to connect with so many photographers. It’s made my eye sharper, my technical skills better, my work better. And I hope I’ve been able to do the same for others.
JC: Who are your inspirations (past/present)?
TD: My mother was a photographer. I remember her showing me her love for photography by doing it everyday. Taking an interest in photography was natural to me from the very beginning.
Once I started to develop that interest, the single biggest influence on my photographic eye has been the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, without a doubt. And although I could never shoot what he sees, James Nachtwey has deeply influenced how I look at telling difficult stories.
In addition, I’m inspired by everyone: I love looking at Flickr everyday to see what’s new.
JC: Of all the gear you’ve ever used, what’s your favorite?
TD: I love my Canon 24-105 lens. I’ve had four Canon DSLRs, but I’ve always used my 24-105 lens. And I love my Panasonic LX3; it’s a fantastic point-and-shoot, and since it’s always in my pocket, it’s what captures the great everyday moments of my life.
One word of advice I always give to novice photographers: digital cameras come and go, but lenses are forever. Get a good camera, but get a great lens.
And I’ll pass on one more note, from David duChemin: “Gear is good. Vision is better.”
JC: What are your aspirations? Are there things, with regard to photography, that you haven’t done yet that you’d like to?
TD: I constantly remind myself and others that the best images are the ones that offer new feelings and ideas to explore each time you view them, carrying an emotional depth far beyond the visual appeal. Thus, my aspiration is to create images that are accessible, meaningful and enduring.
How? I want to use my photography to highlight world issues and tell important stories. In my business and event work, I’d like to cover premier business and political events like TED, The World Economic Forum, the G20 and others, and combine that with my work with social enterprises and nonprofits to cover important social and economic issues. I’d like to share these stories with the broader world through exhibits, books and talks.
For example, in November of 2010 I went to Ghana with Sloane Berrent on a humanitarian trip to deliver malaria nets and visit companies and organizations working on economic and social development; this year we will complete a book, exhibit and talk based on that trip to highlight the issues and stories we found.
JC: Finally, why do you love photography?
TD: Oddly, this was the hardest question for me to answer.
I love that it’s accessible, both to create and enjoy. It’s easy to enjoy, but challenging to master. It’s still evolving, changing as a form of art and expression. It’s boundless, open to a variety of interpretations and creative eyes. It has a set of rules, waiting to be broken.
But most importantly, photography is how I see, feel and think. And it’s how I share myself with the world.
Thank you so much, Taylor!