Cotton's Interview with a Photographer: Josh Packer

Cotton's Interview with a Photographer: Josh Packer

Josh Packer is an Idaho-based photographer with a great passion for the outdoors. In this latest "Cotton's Interview with a Photographer," he tells us that he hopes his work inspires others to get out and appreciate nature. When he tells his wife "nature's calling," he really means it!

Cotton Carrier: Where do you call home?

Josh Packer: I live in Idaho Falls, Idaho. I have lived in Idaho for most of my life and love it. There are many hidden gems from beautiful creeks to awesome waterfalls. I also love finding old barns and homesteads to photograph. Plus, I’m only a couple of hours away from both Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park, which I visit as often as I can.

CC: How long have you taken photographs, unprofessionally and professionally?

JP: I’ve always had a love of photography since I was a child, but I didn’t get serious about photography until a few years ago. My wife, Sarah, bought me a Nikon D3200 and a photography class as graduation presents, and I’ve been hooked on landscape photography ever since.

Within the last couple of years, I’ve been selling my landscape photos, performing photo shoots for various companies, and even now do one-on-one tutorial sessions with photographers across the nation.

CC: How would you define your style?

JP: As a landscape photographer, I love colour in the sky and good light. I also learned early on from a professional photographer to get unique perspectives when taking photos, so I’m always getting down low looking for interesting compositions. I try to go beyond the obvious to hopefully create powerful images that people enjoy.

CC: Have you ever gone to photography school?

JP: I don’t have any formal photography training, but I am always trying to learn new photography and post-processing techniques to enhance my photos. I took a class from a local photographer that helped me to understand the basics of how a camera works and the importance of the exposure triangle. I have also had a couple of mentors who have guided me and have given me constructive criticism, which has really helped me improve my abilities.

CC: What is your favourite place or thing to shoot?

JP: My favourite thing to place/thing to shoot would have to be the Grand Teton or just big mountains in general. Having the Tetons so close to me makes me want to go shoot there as often as I can. I will drive 4 to 6 hours round trip early in the morning just to get good lighting on the Grand Teton only to drive home after an hour or two of shooting. Mountains are so powerful, especially when you use a long lens to compress distance and make them appear enormous. Then throw in the wildlife in front of the Tetons, and it makes for iconic scenes.

CC: What camera(s) and lenses do you use?

JP: I use the Nikon D750 with the following lenses: Tokina f/4 17-35mm, Tamron f/2.8 70-200mm, and Tamron f/5-6.3 150-600mm.

CC: One of our favourite questions now, what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to get THE shot?

JP: The craziest thing I’ve done to get a shot would have to been standing in the middle of the highway on a freezing November morning without gloves near Grand Teton National Park with my tripod taking photos. I set up my tripod but had to get out of the road countless times as cars would come towards me and behind me. I’d re-set up my tripod and continue taking photos as the light changed. After I was done, it took about 20 or 30 minutes for my hands to warm up and could feel them again. It was worth every freezing second though to get the shot.

CC: Who has inspired your work?

JP: I’ve had a couple of photographers truly inspire me and take me under their wings to mentor me. Mark Handy, a professional landscape photographer, and Scotty Perkins, an Idaho landscape photographer, have taken the time to give me advice and help me improve my photography abilities.

Mark Handy is a self-taught landscape photographer in California that travels all over the world to capture iconic photos, and his attention to details is phenomenal. Scotty Perkins captures amazing scenes around the United States, and his photos are always stunning and tack sharp.

CC: What advice would you tell an aspiring photographer?

JP: Great question. Always look to improve your photography, because if you’re complacent with your current photography skills, your work will show that. Find any way that you can to develop your skills whether it’s reading a book on composition, looking at others’ work, watching tutorials, or listening to podcasts. Do anything and everything you can, and your photography abilities will blossom.

CC: Can you share a photographic resource you use?

JP: I have recently started using luminosity masks and the TK Actions Panel to post-process my photos, and it makes all the difference in the world. The ability to edit just certain parts of the photos so precisely takes your photos to another level.

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

JP: Photography has taken me to new places and on new adventures. I've made many new friends through photography and have even gone shooting with them as I visit different parts of the United States and the world.

I love photography and love sharing what I see on my adventures with others, hoping to inspire others to get out and appreciate nature. Being able to connect with other photographers and learn from them is so rewarding.

CC: Any exciting photographic events in coming up you’d like to share?

JP: I am going to San Diego within the next few months and can't wait to photograph the beaches there. Also, I'll be heading to beautiful Glacier National Park for the first time, and I can't wait to explore it.

I'd also like to add that I offer one-on-one workshops and Skype sessions on camera techniques, composition, and post-processing, so contact me to set up an appointment.

To see more of Josh Packer's photography, check out:

Instagram: @packtography

Facebook: @joshpackerphotography