John Lander looks for the moment when setting up his shots. His images are memorable – scenes of Japan and Asia that have appeared in Forbes, Asian Geographic, and The Toronto Star. What are his secrets? How did he get started? What lies ahead? Read this week’s Photog Friday and learn more about professional photographer John Lander.
Name: John Lander
Country of residence: Japan
John Lander is a freelance writer and photographer based in Japan with a passion for Japanese gardens, Japanese cuisine and festivals. John’s credits include photos and articles published by Travel+Leisure, Forbes, Camping Life, Diversion, Asian Geographic, The Japan Times, The Toronto Star, Sydney Morning Post,The Australian among many others. Other clients include Twentieth Century Fox, Hachette Media, Asahi Press and McGraw-Hill.
How did you first get interested in photography?
Originally my interest was in travel writing but when I learned that editors, especially at newspapers vastly prefer text+photo packages over only text, I decided to hone my skills and invest in good lenses and cameras. Along the way I discovered I was better at the photography than the writing, and enjoyed it more, too.
What do you like to shoot?
My subject of choice is Japanese gardens though I am also interested in food photography.
What’s your approach to photography, your philosophy? What do you look for? How do you set-up a shot?
I look for the moment, after having researched the subject or location thoroughly, but no matter how well researched the place or person is I feel it depends on the moment and the willingness to wait for the moment to happen, even if that means coming back again in a few days, and then again if necessary and wait for it to happen.
What is the best photo you have taken? Why? Background and details, please…
People often ask me that. There are several of my favorites that aren’t necessarily the best composition, angle, or subject but happen to be dear to me for personal reasons. The most popular photo on my web site, according to its hits, is the one of Enkoji Garden in Kyoto attached here. It was well researched for the time of day and lighting, season (autumn leaves) but required for me to wait and wait and wait for visitors to leave the tatami room before I could get the shot.
What gear are you using? What else do you want to buy?
I am now using a Canon 5D Mark II as well as an older Canon 5D as a backup with an array of “L” lenses. I’d like the new 100mm macro Canon “L” lens for Christmas…
Which area of photography would you like to explore further (macro, landscapes, portraits)?
I need to work on my food photography and need to develop macro and lighting skills.
Where do you see your photography 5 years from now?
I started out as a “travel photographer” which is rather multifaceted, and so has required learning special requirements for people, portraits, architecture, landscapes. To survive in this competitive world, I am starting to develop an interest in shooting other subjects, particularly eco/green themes which are popular these days. I am also working on food photography much more these days – staying within my niche but expanding the limits of it a bit. Essentially, a photographer needs to have a niche, but also be interested in various subjects as close as possible to that niche.
What the best advice you would give to fellow photographers?
Find your niche but don’t be afraid to diversify.