By Doug Petry
Wednesday February 8 marked the return of award winning photographer Larry Louie to share with club members his presentation titled: Beyond the Darkness.
We’ve been very fortunate to have Larry visit the club several times over the past few years. Last year he shared his own unique perspective with us by helping to critique our images on submission night and I learned a lot about my own photography and how I can improve my images by making them more emotionally relevant to the audience.
Larry’s own style has evolved over the years as he went from primarily a landscape photographer to a travel/documentary photographer, visiting remote, mostly impoverished locations throughout the far East. Below is a quote from the Info page of his website.
“On his travels, he is a humanitarian documentary photographer, exploring the lives of remote indigenous people, and documenting social issues around the world. As an optometrist, Larry adjusts people’s visual perception. As a photographer, he seeks to adjust people’s view of the world. Either way, he is interested in things that exist outside the regular field of vision.”
Larry talked about how things changed for him when he visited the Guggenheim Museum in New York and saw a display of B&W photography from the 1970’s. His newfound interest in B&W photography coupled with his work with Seva Canada, Oxfam and other NGO’s in areas of the world where medical care is difficult to obtain or completely unavailable, led him to his current passion for Humanitarian Documentary Photography.
Larry says that for this kind of photography, organizing the trip, traveling and getting access to remote areas is 90% of the work. The actual photography is the fun part. Larry takes a minimum amount of equipment with him on these trips; a wide angle lens, a 50 mm prime and a short zoom along with one body is all he takes.
His technique is to “forget the technique” so that “the subject shines through.” He says that a photographer needs to “put life into the image” and act like a “fly on the wall” spending time getting comfortable with the subject, smiling and observing them in their own environment before taking the photograph.
He says that “the photograph is not just about the primary subject, the background is part of the story and helps to create a united scene.”
Larry thinks of himself as an “old school shooter” and conserves his shots, taking his time and thinking through what he wants to portray in the image.
It seems to me that we can all learn from viewing Larry’s work. Even though most of us will likely never have the opportunity to travel to some of the places that Larry has visited, with some thought and effort we can learn to
apply some of the techniques let the subject shine through in our images. Thanks Larry