A LOT OF PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES ARE KEEN PHOTOGRAPHERS. COMPETING IN THE MOST SCENIC, DRAMATIC, TENSE, AND FRAUGHT ENVIRONMENTS IN THE WORLD, MANY LIKE TO CAST A KEEN EYE OVER THEIR SURROUNDINGS AND TAKE SOME IMPRESSIVE PICTURES. BUT HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR TIME UP A MOUNTAIN, OR ON A TRACK, OR BY A BEACH?
This is the third of a series of interviews, where we reached out to some amazing action photographers, to ask them for some tips and tricks that could help anyone competing up a mountain or on the waves, take some incredible shots.
Kat Carney, based in San Diego, has been an photographer for a number of years & can count some of the world biggest brands among her clients (British Airways, Hyundai, TomTom). We reached out to Kat for some tips on how to improve our photography when we're working out and travelling through some scenic (and less scenic) locations...
Kat, thank you for taking some time to sit & speak with us; What is your go-to camera set-up for outdoor/action photography (equipment-wise)? "Canon 6D with a variety of lenses, my favorites are the 16-35mm f2.8, 24-70mm f2.8, and the 70-200mm f2.8"
So, what is your go-to camera set-up for landscape photography (equipment-wise)? "Canon 6D, my 16-35mm lens, and a tripod (I don't have a favorite tripod yet, still testing weight vs. ability, mostly I choose to take along a really old but light Sony tripod I own)".
What non-photography equipment is essential to a good photographers kit? "For me, sunscreen!"
As an adventure/outdoor photographer, what do you feel is the biggest obstacle (i.e. light, weather, location, time, etc)? "I'm often shooting in places where it's really difficult to have the camera out of my pack. While climbing mountains my hands are occupied with an ice axe, or when climbing walls my hands are occupied with holding onto the rock, when I'm in canyons, I'm often swimming through potholes so the challenge becomes keeping gear dry and managing to take photos. Getting a camera out and actually making interesting images during these times is the biggest obstacle".
What is the biggest obstacle to overcome with respect to Landscape photography? "I don't shoot that much pure landscape imagery. Most of my images have people interacting with the landscape. The biggest challenge in doing that, is being in the right place at the right time with the right light".
What has been your best adventure/outdoor photography experience? What was the worst? "I would list so many for my best! A recent memory of a great time was climbing 17 pitches up the Chief in Squamish, Canada. My most recent memory of a bad experience is when my fiancé and I did a really off the beaten path canyon in the middle of nowhere. We went through the technical section and it was beautiful, except for finding a dead animal wedged in one of the cracks, and then we got out and the exit was 4 miles of the most intense bushwhacking I have ever done. It was such slow going, I thought we would never get out. And then we climbed out of the canyon walls to hike over desert slick rock in 105 degree weather for 4 more miles. We ran out of water and I was swearing canyons at that point".
What is the story behind your own favourite photograph/set of photographs? "I really love some recent work I did for Travel Wisconsin this winter when they flew me out to shoot winter activities. I had such an amazing time with the locals, and I think the images I made tell the story of how amazing that place is in the winter".
On an adventure/action shoot, you could be out of the house for days at a time; what sort of meals/drinks are you taking with you? How much can you carry with you? "I take a lot of dried food because it's light. I like dried potatoes, I really love Good To-Go meals (they don't sponsor me and this is not paid, I just really think they have the best backpacking food I've ever tasted). And I love to have peanut M&M's with me. I can carry about 5 days worth of food with me, but camera equipment does take up a lot of room, and it's heavy. I usually try and have at least a couple other people with me so they can carry some of the food. But I'm also really thankful for lightweight backpacking gear!"
If/when you camp on a shoot, what food/drink do you take with with you? "I drink almost exclusively water. I know that's boring, but it's easy and simplifies things. It depends on how far I'm going, but I love to have a lot of veggies with me, and definitely some kind of chocolate".
For athletes on a beach, or up a mountain, what should they be looking for to get that perfect shot? "Great light always helps, and look for unique or beautiful composition, and then wait to shoot it until the light is right".
What do you feel are the most common mistakes in action/adventure photography? "I am certainly guilty of this, but I hate it when some just gets the glory shots. I want to see the whole story, and I want the images to tell me the story of your adventure. That includes getting details, or unique observations".
Are there any photographers you really admire or find inspiration on their work? "I really enjoy Renan Ozturk and Taylor Freesolo's work, along with Kyrstle Wright".
Are there any tips you might have for athletes & adventurers who want to improve their own photography in very scenic locations, and any tips for athletes who might be in slightly less picturesque settings? "I think most settings are picturesque, and if you find a way to tell your story from a unique point of view, regardless of where you are that is usually interesting".
How different is your prep before a shoot, between going to a hot climate & a cold climate? "In a hot climate, I am usually worried about getting sand in my gear or protecting my gear from water. In a cold climate, I'm worried about batteries dying so I usually pack and charge up extra to make sure I'm ready to go. Other than that I typically need a lot more clothing and gear in a cold climate, so I probably spend more time packing for those outings".