This is the first in our series “What Macro Means To Me” where photographers and cinematographers talk about what macro imaging means to them and their work. Macro has as many different applications as there are image-makers and the story of each of these artists is the story of macro imaging.
As a kid I loved when National Geographic would come in the mail. Would they have macro images in them? I didn’t know what they were called at the time but they would cause my imagination to kick into overdrive. These images provided a glimpse into another world, challenging what I thought I knew about the world. They played to my love of exploring and adventure.
I did not set out to become a photographer/cinematographer. My goal was to become an archaeologist. As such, a lot of the artifacts I worked with were small and I found myself wanting to see them with the kind of detail I saw in those amazing insects in the magazines. My freshman year of college I needed to take an art elective, and photography seemed like the perfect choice. From the first day I wanted to take images that where as close up as I could possibly produce. With a Minolta X-300 and a 50mm prime this was an ongoing challenge. Over the semester I fell in love with the craft. I continued as an archaeology major through college but by the end knew photography would be my career path.
Ever since I began my career I have looked for ways to include macro images in the work I am doing. My first job was mostly sports photography with some commercial style shooting intertwined. It was for a yearbook company back in the days of film. This is where I learned to be a photographer. For the first 3 year I shot 15,000 rolls of 36-exposure film a year. I loved when I would get sent to science labs and have a few minutes to do some macro. I would also throw close-up images into my sports work as well. After 5 years I knew there was nothing left for me there and it was time to move on. Since then I have done a combination of freelance work and staff jobs. That has been for a little over 10 years.
I would always be working on macro images in my spare time. The experimentation and discovering new ways of making these images is awesome. In 2009 I founded Six Visuals, a company devoted to making macro images, both still and motion. It has been the work I have always been most passionate about. I couldn’t stand the idea of just doing photography for the sake of making a living. As an artist you wither and stagnate if you are not doing the work you feel drawn to do some of the time.
Why do we make images? Because we want to tell a story or communicate a message of some kind. Because we want to explore the world in a different way. Because we want to share the things that have captured our imagination. Because we feel compelled to share these things with others.
I love to include close-ups and macros in my work. By this I am referring to work for clients who have not hired me specifically for macro jobs. It gives me the opportunity to expose them to something they may not have seen before or may not have thought would apply to their project. This helps to separate myself from other people they work with. Additionally, it gives the client something to help them separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
These things are all ways my love of this craft has helped me as a professional but I would do this type of work even if no one ever looked at it. I would not feel right if I didn’t. I am a bit of a nerd and I love the technical challenges macro provides. Finding new ways to push the images I can create and maybe even the images macro photographers can create as a whole is just plain exciting. The detail revealed in close-up and macro work is something many people never get to see. They are things we cannot see with the naked eye.
So What Does Macro Mean To Me? It means a way of looking at the world. It means a way of showing the world to others. It means finding the details in everything around me. It means opening my eyes to things I would not otherwise see. It means telling a story from a different angle.