Photographer Gerald Macua’s travels have taken him across the globe and although he always liked photography, it wasn’t until digital cameras became easily accessible that became serious. Having historically used film cameras, he made the switch and bought a D7000 and then a D800e a few years later.
He says “I started getting more serious about photography when I bought my Nikon D7000. I started traveling to many places, enjoying the connection with nature and creating my own images. When I finally bought a Nikon D800e I got even more serious about improving my skills. This included trying to learn post-processing from famous pros to create my own style”.
Even though his images have been published by the likes of National Geographic he still considers himself a self-taught amateur…
Gerald, where are you from?
I grew up in France and moved to the USA in my 30’s and recently I spent 7 years living in Japan due to work.
Where do you currently live?
I now live on the West Coast of USA.
What genre of photography do you specialise in?
I mostly shoot landscape, nature, night and cityscapes.
Describe your style of photography?
I believe in photography as an art and I love creating my own images. After living in Europe, the USA and also Japan, I have been exposed to many different ideas about photography. Japan is a place where only a few people really manipulate their own images, most people tend to like images right out of the camera.
On the opposite side is the US, where most famous photographers of social media completely change landscapes with warping mountains, changing skies, etc. I think I am probably in between the two. IN general, I like to ensure that my images have a mood within them.
I think my style has changed quite a bit in the last year, as I try to have my post-processing work even more refined. I guess like many friends, I sometimes like to go back and re-process some old images. When I do, I am usually thinking “what was I thinking when I did this?” I think our own styles are always evolving as we continue to explore the possibilities. Equipment is getting better all the time, software too and it all helps to try to push the limits of our art, which I try to apply to my own images.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on the complete renewal of my personal website. I used to spend a lot of time on social media sites like 500px, trying to get inspired or to grow my exposure. But recently I have felt the need to step away a bit from those social media sites. This is so I can concentrate more on my own post-processing skills and worry less about the number of followers I have. I also publish a lot less than I used to by trying to only pick my best work when I share it.
What is your next project or assignment?
As I have started taking images with drones, I am thinking about getting much nicer equipment to be able to improve my aerial photography. I like the fact that it brings some unique views of sometimes over-photographed places. Creativity is what I really aim for.
Are there any photographers whose work/style you admire?
Yes, I really like the work of Alex Noriega, Miles Morgan, Ryan Dyar and Marc Adamus. I love the fact that Marc is, despite being at the top for years, still trying to push the limits of his art. Also, when it comes to lava, which I really love photographing, no-one captures it like Bruce Omori and Tom Kuali’i. Very inspiring work!
What is your favourite memory from your experiences?
There have been a few. For example, flying over San Francisco at sunset in a helicopter without doors was so exhilarating. Or over lava fields or capturing some auroras in Iceland was also a big highlight of my trip there. I also loved standing in the middle of the desert at night just starring at the stars, something I always enjoy very much.
What’s the biggest photographic challenge you overcame?
I guess the fact that I am not so worried about the number of followers on social media anymore. I realized it’s ok to create my own style and have fun doing it and being still as passionate as I was when I decided to buy my D800e all those years ago.
What’s in your camera bag?
D810A for night photography and D850 for most images. Nikon 14-24 f2.8, 24-70 f2.8 are for sure the lenses that I have used the most, but I also use some Sigma Art series and some Zeiss Distagon prime lenses.
What photographic equipment would you never leave home without?
D850 (or D800e when it was my camera of choice) and my Nikon 14-24mm and 24-70mm lenses.
What advice you would give anyone who is starting out?
Don’t worry about how many people follow you, concentrate on improving your skills (shooting and post-processing) to create your own style at the end.
Any pitfalls they should avoid?
I would say don’t give your work away for free. I was contacted a few times and because I was not famous, some people expected my best images to come for free just to get some exposure. No matter the level you are at, your work deserves some kind of compensation.
All images by Gerald Macua. All rights reserved. No usage without permission.
Interview by Kav Dadfar.