Every once in a while you come across a photographer who’s work really speaks to you personally. It might be the subject matter, artistic skill, technical perfection or just plane cool photography.
In the upcoming Photographer Spotlight series, we are going to profile the work of a number of photographers along with question and answer sessions.
We hope that their work will inspire you and that you might get a bit of insight into who they are and why they do what they do.
Our first photographer is Peter Hoang.
Peter is an Ontario, Canada based rock climbing and adventure photographer. Ontario isn’t exactly known as a climbing hot spot – but it does have some pretty amazing sport and ice routes and Peter manages to mix his work locally at home with his travels to more exotic climbing destinations.
Q&A With Peter Hoang – Rock Climbing and Adventure Photography
- What is your specialty? What do you love to photograph?
My specialty is likely climbing photography. I climb a lot myself, so the two disciplines marry into each other quite well. It can be challenging to climb effectively and also capture the moment, but the level of immersion often provides opportunities for great shots that you wouldn’t get otherwise.
- How long has it been since you first started taking photography seriously – what has that progression been like?
I don’t know if I can pin-point an exact moment since photography is still something I do mostly for fun. Formal gigs come and go depending on where I’ve been and who I’ve met, so the progress is more of an ebb and flow than it is linear. I’ve made it a goal to have photography become a more formal part in my life in next year though, so I’m excited to see where that takes me.
- Are there any particular images you’re captured that stand out as being especially meaningful or satisfying for you?
Yes! For editorial work it was a photo of two climbers on a free-standing granite tower in Frey (Argentina). The timing worked out where the climbers were exactly where I wanted them in the frame, and the anchors I was on at the time put me where I needed to be – it made for a perfect opening image for the article. From my personal work it was a portrait of a friend. He’s an extremely disciplined and accomplished climber, especially for his age, and he’s also one of the kindest individuals I know. I believe I was able to capture that in his portrait, or at the very least I personally get a sense of who he is when I see the portrait.
- What challenges do you face capturing the shots you want to capture?
It’s often the positioning and the challenges of getting there. I want to get into a spot where I can emphasize a particular point – maybe I want to show how bad the holds are on a hard climb, how airy a particular move is, or the danger of the route. After the position the next most challenging thing is trying to avoiding the cliches of climbing photography. It’s possible to take an incredible moment and turn it into a forgettable image.
- What motivates you to put in the effort to overcome those challenges?
I want to genuinely display my particular feelings in a photo. I don’t want to look back at my work to know that I followed the latest fad at the time for internet likes – I’ve definitely done it and the photos always end up feeling hollow.
- What gear do you use? Why?
I shoot exclusively on Canon, but I think that was just by circumstance. Perhaps Canon just did a good job marketing the Rebel series to me when I started – I just stuck by it afterwards. I very recently made a choice to switch over to Sony though. For my intended use-case I think their bodies give me more bang for my buck. I’m still using Canon glass though until I find the extra funds to make a full switch.
- Is there a market for your work? How do you make money?
My ability to climb is almost directly connected to my ability to make money off my work. Marketable photos are often tied in with a story from a trip, or I might just be at an event that needed coverage. You can also grab work from brands who want to promote their outdoor gear and trips that their sponsored athletes embark on.
- How do you promote yourself and your work?
Primarily through social media and in-person encounters, I can’t stress the latter enough though. If you’re a decent human being and aim to make genuine connections within the industry, people will want to work with you, and sometimes that matters more than your resume.
- What are your goals for your photography career in the next year, 5 years, long term?
To create more opportunities for myself to do expeditionary work with the people who are pushing the boundaries in the discipline.
- Do you have any tips or advice for photographers who love your work and would like to photograph something similar?
Learn the technicals behind rope work – it’ll help keep you safe and provide you with more opportunities to get into spaces for the shots you envision. Be safe!
Find Out More
To find out more about Peter and to see more of his work, you can visit his website: Peter-Hoang.com
Let Us Know What You Think
Have a comment on Peter’s work or his Q&A? Leave a comment below.
Have any thoughts on the Photographer Spotlight series, please let us know too!