You may have seen Sam’s stunning lightning on social network sites or in the media lately, as it’s generated a lot of interest … and deservedly so! But this interview will show that Sam’s talent behind the lens is truly extraordinary – his portfolio of images speak for themselves …
Hi Sam. What’s your back story?
I was born and bred on a farm just outside Wingham in the Manning Valley. After that, I lived in Brisbane for several years before moving to Port Macquarie almost two years ago.
When and why did you first pick up a camera? Who/what inspired you?
Well, long story short, about two years ago I was given a DSLR and some lenses, and knowing their cost, I couldn’t let them go to waste – so I decided to learn how to use them. I was working at an electrical retailer at the time, so I figured it would help me with customers buying cameras.
After about six months, I was completely addicted and started trying to learn everything about photography I could! The very technical nature of photography appealed to me, and I loved finding out how everything worked in unison to produce a final image!
Describe your business, Sam Lonergan Photography. What services do you offer, and what do you specialise in?
At this stage I purely shoot for the enjoyment. I’m currently an apprentice Electrician, so while I occasionally do some paid work, or sell some prints to help supplement my wages, I love keeping my photography all about me and what I like. Sometimes, this works well and others like it too, but it’s all for me.
As far as specialty, I’d like to think I don’t have one. Every style of photography has its own very unique challenges. I’ve done quite a lot of landscape photography and plenty of landscape timelapses (one of my favourite things to shoot); however, I’ve very recently started the change to portrait and modelling work. I thoroughly enjoy the learning curve and hope that over the next few years my photography will take a whole new direction.
What, for you, is the best thing about being a photographer?
My favourite part is being able to create images that normally cannot be seen by the human eye, or even by a regular camera. I love Macro photos, long exposure photos, Timelapses, and I’m planning on getting into underwater modelling photography. I love to create things people haven’t seen before.
What’s the best photographic tip anyone ever gave you?
Well, I suppose the best advice I’ve had came from an Australian Photographer and Blogger, Matt Granger. His entire motto is “Get Your Gear Out”, and he very actively encourages everyone to shoot everything, and shoot often. This not only helps you learn new things about photography, but also when difficult situations arise, you learn how to combat them for next time.
Describe some of your favourite images …
I love a photo I took not long ago of a little pup named “Pixie”. I was staying at a friend’s place, who’d just adopted this beautiful little pup. They were away and I tried to get some photos to surprise them with when they got back. She was so friendly, I couldn’t get her to stop coming up to me, so I put her on the trampoline so she couldn’t get to me and took this photo of her, where she just looks like she just wants to come over for a hug. Unfortunately, about two weeks later the poor girl passed away, so I’m glad I took this photo.
Another favourite is my photo of a recent lightning storm over Tamworth City. I was driving into the city and noticed a huge lightning show happening. So I drove up to the Oxley Lookout and set up to try and capture a bolt or two before the rain reached me. The lightning was phenomenal – the most active storm I’ve seen in my life. I snapped a few shots before the rain came down, and headed home to see what I got. When I saw the single shot with so many strikes, I couldn’t believe it! With very minimal editing (maybe 30 seconds in Adobe Camera Raw), it was just a shot where everything came together.
As with any art form, becoming a great photographer takes trial and error – and I’m sure everyone makes mistakes along the way! What are some of the common errors you observe people making when they use a camera/process photos?
Of course we all make mistakes; however, mistakes help us to learn, so I enjoy the process of discovering how to fix a mistake and prevent the same problem occurring in the future. As far as others go, I try not to criticise anyone’s work, as a big part of photography (as with most art forms) is that everyone is entitled to their own styles and opinions. I’m not a personal fan of over saturated photos (normally sunrises or sunsets) or tinted images (images that have a green or purple tint added).
I love raw images. I try to minimise editing on my photos, and any editing I do is usually to make it look closer to what I saw with my own eyes at the time.
What’s your favourite camera/lens combo?
While I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III, the camera doesn’t worry me. I’d be just as happy shooting with a Nikon or a Sony. Lenses, however, are a different story. I wouldn’t be able to choose, although I find myself mainly using either my 85mm f1.2 Canon or my 16-35mm f2.8 Ultrawide. Between those two, I can shoot nearly anything.
Are you available for professional photos shoots … and if so, where can people contact you/find out more info?
At this stage I do not have enough time for paid shoots; however, this may change in the future, although I have no problems with people asking for me to recommend someone (as I am friends with many excellent local professionals). Everyone is more than welcome to view my Facebook page, Sam Lonergan Photography, and can contact me there if they wish to order any prints or canvases of my work.
Thanks Sam. Interview by Jo Atkins.
Check out more of Sam’s work on Facebook.