Vaughn Bender, Photographer, Virden, Manitoba, Canada


EWW: Do you consider your style or other aspects of your work to be unique from others? If so, how is it unique from others?

Vaughn: Well I really love landscape photography so when I think of my style, I try and focus on certain aspects of the landscapes to expose a certain beauty as I personally see it. I believe I am still developing my style and at the moment I really want to tell more of a story with light, so there is a bit of experimenting and working at developing my style with light. I am playing with HDR and I am trying to maintain a more realistic photo when I am done. I am not into the cartoonish looking photos. They are cool but not for landscapes. So I really am working on producing more realistic photos so the post processing in Lightroom and Photomatix is still a bit of an experiment, but I am getting certain processes down that I am starting to be happy with. I think when I have a more consistent post processing nailed down with my photos you will see my style come through. I have run into quite a few great people photographers that keep telling me, make it your own style and that is really becoming important to me.


EWW: I am curious to know, if someone were asked to make a comment about your work as a whole, what do you think they would say?

Vaughn: As a photographer I think you are always critical of your own photos and when I ask my wife, hey what do you think of these that I have recently taken, my wife almost always says the opposite of what I am thinking. So I enjoy her critiquing as I learn to look at my photos differently.

When I complete my post processing of a few of my photos and post some of my photos out to the public, so many say that I should put them in contests, or sell them, etc. Some have commented that some of my photos looked like paintings, others have been very appreciative how I look at scenery in my composition. So as a whole I am just surprised what people say.


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EWW: What would be your comments about your work, as a whole?

Vaughn: This is a good question because I think I could relate my photography to life. Life really affects my work. When I feel strong or confident I see some strong composition in my photos. When I am down I inadvertently reveal some weaknesses so in a similar way my photography reveals that. My composition reveals that. I have been learning that this is good in Photography as it affect my creativity and my story changes. I believe I have a unique technique of my own so my Photography at times has a strong story and focused, other times I am looking at a scene not telling a story but focused on some other aspect. One thing I seem to do is take a bunch of photos and then load them into my computer for post processing and then not look at them for a day. Then I go back and process them and it is like revisiting that day and I get another perspective, so that too affects how I process my photos. When I am done I like what I captured and many times I say to myself, how did I see that?


EWW: Excluding subject matter, are there any themes that consistently run from one work to the other such as colors, perspective, lighting, movement, style, etc.?

Vaughn: Yes, one thing I like and thrive on are clouds, I love the way clouds can be so dramatic, much like a snowflake there are never two clouds the same. Then on days where there are no clouds I look for contrast in other parts of the scene first if there is anything I can grab from the clouds, then whether it be from grass or shades of colors running through the landscape.


EWW: Your work seems to focus on panoramas or on outside settings that incorporate some type of structure from the past. Some of them also incorporate HDR. Does your present work seem to focus on one more than the other? Why, if it does?

Vaughn: I appreciate how you have noticed some of those details, when I look over my work I ask myself, why did I capture it that way? When I capture a landscape, my purpose in processing that photo is about drawing out good color, good lighting and detail. I make a rule of thumb now to capture at least 3 bracketed photos to get more color range and when I process them sometimes I use all three or just use one of the photos that has all the color range in the photo. If the landscape has a lot of shadows and highlights I will bracket maybe 5 or more photos. I usually am guided by the histogram. And if I can’t get the desired result using one photo I will use what I bracketed. Sometimes I will switch to Photomatix and even do some light tonemapping. I have to confess that my post processing has been influenced by Matt Kloskowski from On1. He is the vice president of On1. I have a few of his information videos in landscape post processing techniques. I have adopted some of his process and developed my own decision making when to use HDR and when not. I am sure I will continue to mature in that and hone my skills to have a more consistency to my photos as I mature in my photography.


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EWW: How are you now promoting and marketing your photography?

Vaughn: This is one area I am working on continuously. I have put my photos on places like Fine Art America and 500px and have my own webserver which I put my portfolio on there. I am doing local area things like galleries and putting them in my local hospital waiting rooms and I have them displayed where my wife has her hair salon, lots of people traffic there. I have been promoting my self like doing some work for Habitat for Humanity, which exposes me to public as a photographer. I have been taking some classes at Creative Live on marketing so I am expanding my knowledge on that. I post to twitter, Instagram, Flickr, View Bug and others. I have been following Photofocus and their hangouts and been great for learning a lot from photographers from both American and Canada.


EWW: Are there any additional activities that you plan to add to your overall promotional strategy in the next 6 months?

Vaughn: Yes, A few months ago I was considering going on a tour with a group of photographers to places like Peru, or China, etc. and I found that it was geared to specific types of photography. Yes they offered Landscape tips and techniques but the ones I looked at were expensive and I felt it would be like a whirlwind tour. So I decided that I would try doing my own trip. I am currently planning a 12 to 14 day self guided photography tour to Iceland in June. I have been doing lots of investigating and research to get the best times when to be out in the best lighting. There are a couple of people I know that recently moved to my area that are from Iceland and they are being helpful. They have some good tips to keep in mind when touring the area. I am getting into drone video and photography. I would like to bring that with me on my trip to Iceland to enhance my photography as well.


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EWW: Assuming that you do use social media, which one(s) seem to work best for you?

Vaughn: My blog, I have traffic monitoring plugins in WordPress and the stats show where the traffic comes from and by doing some referencing when I get hits on my blog, there seems to be a correlation to the hits on the social media sites so what I find is that and Twitter are my best for getting referrals to my blog to view my photos.  What works great for exposure for my local community is Facebook.


EWW: Vaughn, just to wrap up the interview, do you have any final thoughts about you and your work that you think would be important for others to know about?

Vaughn: I have been a Information and Technology guy for a good part of my life, As I pour more of my passion and energy into photography, I think my composition and honing my post processing skills and creative skills will start to reflect more in my photos and my focus will reflect where my heart is with each photo that I create. I have quickly realized that being technical in my photos alone is not going create great story telling photos. But letting my heart speak over technical is really what seems to produce photos that even speaks to me. When that happens, my passion deepens in my photography. I have two cameras, one is the latest Nikon D810 and my backup camera is an older Nikon D700. You know I like the older camera better, having said that, it is your eyes and heart the produces a great photo, not the gear. Learning how to read the light and how it affects the landscapes brings it all together.


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