Cotton's Interview with a Photographer: Vanexus Photography

Cotton's Interview with a Photographer: Vanexus Photography

In this edition of "Cotton's Interview with a Photographer," we talk to Vancouver, BC photography duo Karina and Amir from Vanexus Photography. They say they're lucky to live in one of the most photogenic corners of the planet! The couple has been working together for about five years but they were partners long before they became more serious about photography.

Cotton Carrier: How long have you been taking photographs, unprofessionally and professionally?

Vanexus: Our interest in photography started with the first purchase of a point and shoot just over a decade ago. We decided to upgrade to a DSLR a couple of years later as we wanted to start shooting a bit more than just the occasional trip or event. We tried to learn and hone our skills as much as possible with our cropped sensor camera before making the jump to full frame just over three years ago.

CC: How would you define your photography style?

V: We specialize in landscape photography which includes everything from seascapes, mountains, lakes and sometimes cityscapes. The most common description we’ve heard about our photos is that they are often peaceful and calm. We would attribute this to the fact that we really enjoy the process of being outdoors and being surrounded by nature and while we don’t follow a specific aesthetic, we do try to convey a sense of serenity through our photos.

CC: Have either of you gone to photography school?

V: We’ve never gone to photography school, but we did do extensive Art History studies in university which we found to have helped give us a better understanding of basic artistic elements including composition, tone and subject matter. Everything else that we’ve learned has been self-taught through books, articles and videos from other photographers.

CC: What's your favourite place or thing to shoot?

V: A favourite place is a really tough question for us as we enjoy way too many of our outings to give a specific example. Local British Columbian spots like Lighthouse Park and Golden Ears Park, as well as the entire Canadian Rockies, are just some of our most favourite areas.

As for favourite thing/subject, it would have to be the Northern Lights. Living in Vancouver, it's not often that we get a chance to see the Northern Lights. However, we’ve been lucky enough to get to experience them a handful of times over the last two years just north of Vancouver, as well as during our trip to Iceland. Nothing has managed to come close to the feeling we get when we are surrounded by the dancing aurora!

CC: Where has photography taken you, and what has it enabled you to experience?

V: Photography has allowed us to expand our horizons and to experience the natural beauty that surrounds us, specifically in our own backyard. We’ve been able to plan road trips in and around B.C., as well as the Rockies in a large part thanks to photography.

However, the most obvious answer for us would have to be Iceland as it is by far the biggest photography centred trip we’ve taken. We got to experience the unbelievable and unique landscape of Iceland and become familiar with the Icelandic culture. Photography trips can be dangerous as they can become addicting very quickly! For us, there is nothing more satisfying than getting away from the daily routine and hitting the road in chase of natural beauty.

CC: How do you work together and what role(s) do each of you play?

V: We would definitely say that it is a collaborative process. Since it is the two of us, we tend to see it as an advantage as we can be more mobile and are able to capture different perspectives of the same area. A lot of the time, it really helps to discuss and plan the shots with one another and get feedback for what would work best. Usually, one of us will use a wide angle lens to capture the whole scene and the other person will use our telephoto lens to focus on details.

CC: Speaking of equipment, what cameras and lenses do you use?

V: We use:

Nikon D750

Nikon D610

16-35mm f/4 lens

70-200mm f/4 lens

20mm f/1.8, which we use mostly for our Astrophotography shots. variety of NiSi ND filters.

Variety of NiSi ND filters

CC: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to get “The Shot”?

V: We can easily say that photography is both mentally and physically demanding because it is really up to you on how far you are willing to push yourself to get that one shot. Neither one of us can be categorized as extreme risk takers, and this part of our personalities definitely applies to our photography. We haven’t endured any life changing conditions in order to get “The Shot”, yet. Having said that, standing in gale force winds to catch a beautiful sunset at Kirkjufell in Iceland has to be one of the crazier weather conditions we’ve been more than happy to endure.

We’ve also spent countless hours standing still in the height of winter just to create time-lapses of the stars and the aurora multiple times. These wouldn’t really qualify as crazy for most people, but not feeling our fingers and toes for hours after getting home qualifies as pretty extreme for us!

CC: Who has inspired you as photographers?

V: There are so many talented photographers that have inspired us and continue to drive our passion for photography through their work. Through social media, we have had the opportunity to be exposed to several outstanding professionals that create amazing photos that compel us to work harder to make better images. Photographers like Michael Shainblum, Daniel Kordan, Iurie Belegurschi, and Viktoria Haack are just a few of the names that come to mind.

CC: What advice would you give an aspiring photographer?

V: The best advice we can give is to look at photography as a passion first and as a business second. The photography business, especially the landscape photography, can be tough and competitive if you are looking at it as a main source of income.

We love the outdoors and we really enjoy photography, so for us, it’s more important to make business opportunities from what we love to do rather than following a lot of avenues in photography that offer guaranteed income, like studio work or weddings.

The thing to remember is that while photography does require a lot of independent effort to get out and shoot, it also offers a huge community of like-minded people that are a great source to learn from and to get support to improve our skills.

CC: Do you have any exciting photographic events coming up that you’d like to share?

V: We are hoping to make a longer trip to the Rockies this Summer as our visit last year was quite short, and to visit the beautiful Washington/Oregon coast for the first time.

You can check out more of Vanexus's photography at:
Instagram: @vanexusphotography
Facebook: @vanexusphotography