Travel: Photographer Jason Nugent goes to Scotland
Jason Nugent is a travel photographer from Fredericton, NB who loves to capture those elusive moments in nature when the weather and landscape seem to be communicating with each other. His photos have this sweeping, otherworldy quality that make me want to transport directly back to that spot to experience it for myself (in my time machine, obviously). Jason has become quite well-known for his travel vistas, selling framed prints at places like Gallery 78 for up to $500 a pop.
When Jason mentioned that he was taking a trip to Scotland, I just knew I had to share a post about it. He was gracious enough to send a batch of some of his favourites to show us and to answer some of my classic email Q/A. Thanks Jason!
What drew you to photography?
My love for photography evolved alongside my love for travel. I didn't suddenly decide to become a photographer. I wanted to travel and started taking photos in order to document everything I was doing. I used to blog heavily - still do, but not as much - and my photos were ways to add visual punch to my writing. As my travel style evolved, my photography did the same, and now I mostly focus on landscape and expedition-style work when I travel.
How did you start pursuing photography creatively? (do you do it full time?)
I think that everyone who picks up a camera eventually tries to "be creative" with it. I've always appreciated, but perhaps not understood, art. While learning photography early on I spent some time in London. Being able to study truly great art and see excellent examples of lighting and composition first hand really helped give me insight. As for doing it full time, I think the honest answer is that right now I need to pursue many different avenues in order to support myself. While much of that is 'creative', not all of it is photography. I find myself combining my photography with writing a lot right now. I was shortlisted for a World Nomads writing scholarship this year and think that this is something that I want to explore.
Why do you love to travel to take photos?
It is probably cliche, but travelling makes me appreciate being at home. I think that everyone, no matter where they live, should spend a bit of time away in order to be able to return and see familiar things in a new light. I am probably guilty of becoming complacent when I am at home too long. I catch myself sometimes realizing that other people spend vacations here, travel from far away places, and really find the area beautiful. When I go away, I come back with a fresh set of eyes.
What equipment do you use?
It depends entirely on what I am doing and where I am going, but I've been using Nikon equipment for a long time now, and these days my camera bag carries a Nikon DSLR and the "holy trinity" of lenses. That's usually sufficient for nearly anything I want to do. If I know I will need the extra resolution, I also have a Phase One medium format camera that I have begun using for landscape work. It is an amazing camera, although I will continue to use the Nikon system for action photography when I need more frames per second and quicker focusing.
I notice sometimes there are people in your photos, sometimes not. Can you comment on this?
The fact that there are people at all in my photos is an indication that I have evolved as a photographer. I used to concentrate on landscapes nearly exclusively, and tried very hard to not have people in my photos. Now, I am finding that I spent much more time documenting the experience that I am sharing with those around me. A photograph of a mountain is a beautiful thing. But I have come to appreciate that a photograph of a person enjoying the mountain can be beautiful in a different way.
What were some of your favourite photos from your recent trip to Scotland?
Here are three that I really like:
The first is a photo taken from the deck of our boat, looking towards the Isle of Mull. The sky is really moody, and there is single ray of light breaking through the clouds. I think it summarizes the weather in Scotland quite well, and illustrates the sort of patience that you need as a landscape photographer. I waited and waited for the clouds to break up and I was eventually rewarded with that photo. A few seconds later the light was gone.
The second photo I really love is a shot I took of my friend Lars standing on a rock in the middle of a stream of water. Lars is a professional photographer from Germany, he's travelled all over, has seen "all the things", and yet, here he is taking a moment to appreciate this really intense day on the Isle of Skye. It goes back to what I talked about earlier, about capturing people having a special moment.
Finally, I love the shot of me on top of the mountain. I'm wearing a yellow beanie in the photo. Lars took that one using my camera - I must give credit - after we climbed up nearly four hundred metres to get above Loch Coruisk. It was one of the only times that we had really warm light, and I'm squinting hard in the photo. It is a great memory for me.
Another of Jason's friends, German photographer Lars Schneider
What is your dream location to photograph?
I am perpetually drawn to Scandinavia. Especially in the winter months, and in the Northern regions. Finland's northern region has so many lakes, and I'd love to spend time photographing the Aurora over them. At those latitudes, the morning light just lasts forever and you get this incredible golden light over everything. You can shoot for hours and not feel rushed.
Where do you plan to go next?
I do tend to keep my schedule as open and as flexible as I can because it keeps me spontaneous. Some times you just need to say yes to things. However, I will be hiking and photographing in the Faroe Islands in February, and there is a good chance that I will be in Nepal in the Spring. If that happens - and I am doing my best to make it so -- it will be my 90th country. It has been a long standing dream of mine to hike in the Himalayas, and right now the realization that this may actually happen is something I am struggling to wrap my head around.