Monday, May 12, 2014

Q&A with Scott Dickerson

Homer-based Photographer Scott Dickerson is passionate about creating new perspectives. Shooting photographs and video from every angle imaginable, he regularly snaps photos while soaring through the clouds and paddling in the ocean. He thrives on new ways to illustrate his subjects’ connection with the Alaskan wilderness. Mollie Foster with Alaska Stock sat down to talk with Scott about his photography and latest projects; read the conversation in our Photographer Q & A, posted the second Monday of each month.

MF: What inspires you to shoot aerial photography?
I love looking at the ground from the air, looking at patterns and seeing things in a new perspective. I can be sitting in my house looking at my yard, and it looks like your typical yard. Then I take off from the field next to my house, and all of a sudden even your own yard becomes interesting. That’s at the core of it, seeing it in a new perspective. As a photographer I like to share that perspective.

MF: What type of aircraft do you use to get off the ground?
For my personal aircrafts, I use a paramotor. It has a paraglider wing and a motor attached to my back. It’s kind of like running with 75 pounds on my back, which…is kind of a problem. Otherwise it’s incredible. My friends joke with me and say I’ve got a weed wacker on my back, and I’m hanging from trash bags. I laugh, because it’s kind of true.

MF: Can you describe the challenges with aerial photography?
Like most things photographic, the biggest challenges are visualizing what you want to do and then putting all the pieces together to get there. Most important thing is overcoming the challenges to getting airborne, looking for creative ways to get up in the air, especially when the light is good. The challenge to making good photos to me isn’t taking the photos, it’s all the stuff that leads up to it. There’s a lot of work that got you to that position, which is very valuable. Things like depth of field and shutter speed are important, but not as much as being in the right place at the right time.

MF: Any stories from the air?
I’ve done a lot of flying above commercial fishing boats, working as a fish spotter. Probably over 200 hours of flying time, an amazing amount of time in the air. Not only was it fun to see commercial fishing from the air after spending time on the water, but visually interesting. I shot a lot of photos during that time and still license those images today.

MF: Most people don’t think of Alaska when you’re talking about surfing, but you shoot a lot of surfing photos. Tell me more about what goes into capturing those photos.
I have a recipe for Alaskan surf photos. Whenever conditions are such, I want to be there. Sometimes Homer, but the waves aren’t here very often. We have to travel to get to waves, which turns out to be very enjoyable. It’s all about chasing waves, they’re hard to find. Except the ones that make you seasick, those...are easy to find.

MF: How often are you shooting while physically in the water?
Shooting in the water is important, but its only 5 percent of what I do. The water shot is so complicated and difficult, that I usually leave it til last and try and get all the logistically simpler shots first. I’ve only lost one camera due to water damage, and that was when a grain of sand compromised the seal of the waterproof housing. I put the camera in the oven shortly afterwards, and it dripped water for a while, and finally came back to life...mostly anyhow.

MF: Where do you take the other 95 percent of your water shots from?
The main thing is trying to find a unique angle. Often times I’ll wade in the water or shoot from low in a small boat, and I can still get what looks like a water shot. Creativity in photography is how you compose your image, how to photograph a subject in a new way. I’m looking at it, and I try to think what would be a different way to look at this. I think everybody could use a bit more of that in their lives.

MF: Do you have any tips for amateur photographers?
Once you have the simplest basics down of exposure and composition, focus on finding interesting angles in good lighting. No amount of fancy equipment and Photoshop wizardry can replace those characteristics of a good photo. Quit thinking about your equipment, and think about shooting from an interesting perspective. For everything from a photo of your Grandma, to an aerial of a glacier. Be in a spot with good lighting, and you can use an iPhone or $25,000 worth of equipment—both turn out fantastic.

MF: What projects are you currently working on?
Lots of exciting things going on, I have an ongoing project with Alaska Brewing to share stories through social media of my adventures across Alaska. Sharing photos of the lifestyles of Alaskans really resonates with me.

Check out Scott’s work at:

—By Mollie Foster

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