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Landscape Photographer Patrick Colpron, aka @CandidCameraMan

I think that the reason my passion for photography developed so greatly and quickly was due to photo sharing on Instagram. I had recently switched from a Blackberry to an iPhone and was thrilled to finally download the Instagram app. I saw so many iPhone users post images on Instagram and share on Facebook.

I started primarily following Instagrammers from the Paris area that shot similar images like myself.  When I knew I was moving back to Toronto I began following people from the Toronto area as well.  One of my favourite photographers I came across was Patrick Colpron, commonly known on Instagram as CandidCameraMan.  When I arrived back in Toronto I reached out to Patrick and asked if he wanted to shoot together sometime.  I never thought he would respond nor agree to meet up.  He gracefully accepted.  From that point on we met on several occasions to shoot around the city, sometimes just a few of us and other times in rather large groups.

Patrick has always been very helpful and willing to share his tricks and techniques.  For those of you who don’t know him, we thought it would be nice to introduce him to our iLHP readers.

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iLHP:  Hi Patrick, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions. Can you tell me a little bit about how long and when you became interested in photography?

Patrick: I started making pictures at 7 or 8 that was back in 1977 or 78 depending when exactly I started, I just loved how the camera I first used felt in my hands, a Canon AT-1. I still have that camera and still use it.

It was mesmerizing for a kid my age to see that Cat’s Eye focusing systems and aligning the needle and circle for the meter and composing an image of what I saw in my view finder.

It was and still is a mechanical marvel with some electronics in it. Cameras have come a long way since.

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iLHP:   Tell us a little bit about your background in photography?

Patrick: There isn’t a lot to tell, I have always been shooting for as long as I remember, was fascinated by Life, National Geographic and Paris Match magazine photography but never thought of myself a photographer.

I have just been doing it for so long, some years more than others that it has become an extension of me and part of who I am.

I see the world in pictures, my wife often points out a landscape, “Oh it’s nice!” to which I often reply, “Yes… but the light is terrible for a picture!”

I took courses in photography in primary school, and college. In primary school, private school, there was a Jesuit priest who was an expert at photography – the mechanics of it I learned at an early age. It was not rocket science. This said I never learned how to develop film and print pictures.

Chemicals, red light and a timer is all you needed really… the rest was all done at the capture, I would just make pictures.

This changed with the advent of digital cameras, all of a sudden I started taking photoshop courses, I had to learn the digital darkroom.

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iLHP:  You are really active in the Toronto photography community can you tell me how that came about? And the social networks you prefer to use?

Patrick: Not as active as I used to be, people who make images and have a passion for photography want to connect to one another I just offered a channel to facilitate these connections and interactions via @TorontoPhoto and initially with the @igersToronto on Instagram.

Just because for me there is no better way to get your creative juices going than shooting with other people and I am not that different from other people.

My social network of choice is Instagram combined with a Facebook page. It is just easy, convenient and the first platform I clicked with and could wrap my head around was Instagram.

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iLHP:  I know you are from Montreal lived in Toronto and are now moving to Paris. Do you find inspiration your inspiration changes depending where you live or visit?

Patrick: Toronto is the best city to live and earn a living in, Paris is the best city to make images in and Montreal has the best bagels and smoke meat not to mention the steamed hot dogs! I have an easier time being inspired in Paris or Toronto than I do in Montreal. Wide sidewalks helps a lot, Paris always does wonders for me, more so than any other city.

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iLHP:   You are really helpful and willing to share tips and techniques. Most people want to keep their ideas secret. What makes you so willing to share?

Patrick: I learned a lot from other photographers, we are all in the same boat. All pros I know are more than willing to share their creative process and techniques with one another. Because at the end of the day we all shoot different things and make images differently.

Plus if someone becomes better than me thanks to my tips, good for them as it will force me to up my game to keep up.

I learn by teaching. Instagram as given me a platform to put my thoughts into words which as helped me grow as a photographer.

What I love doing is figuring out a process or a place someone tries to keep secret and share it, it helps the community… A Pen and Teller show and tell for photography. It helps me learn as I have to figure it out on my own.

I just don’t understand the secrecy – it’s only photography.

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iLHP:  What type of camera do you prefer to shoot with and why?

Patrick: A smartphone, it is just convenient and I see the world in that focal length, approximately 28mm

Other than my smartphone, which is an iPhone 6 and an iPhone 5s at the moment, yes I have 2 iPhones… so does my wife, I also use a Nikon DSLR.

Currently I use a D810, the dynamic range and colour rendition is out of this world with the Nikon D810!

What I can coax out of the Nikon NEF raw file borders on magic! You can use a Nikon Pro Camera to expose right … not to the right but correctly and recover all the details in the shadows. Which I have not been able to do with any RAW files from other manufacturers and brands.

With all digital cameras, smartphone included, the files are flat – post processing images is a must – the more you can coax out of a digital file, the better off you are. I am not stuck to a brand, make or model. I seldom talk about the cameras I use because at the end of the day – it is not the camera but what one does with it.

I have seen people do magic with Canon and Fuji cameras… and for the life of me, I don’t know how they do it.

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iLHP:  I know sometimes you go out and shoot you bring both your Nikon and iPhone. How do you decide what shots you are going to use your iPhone for and when you are going to use your Nikon?

Patrick: I mainly use two focal length with my smartphone, 28mm and 14mm when I use a wide angle lens adapter, same with my DSLR where I use mainly both a 24-70/2.8 and 14-24/2.8 lens.

I always start with the phone, when I want something with more details, finer details or would like a large print out of, then I use my DSLR.

In difficult or challenging light I’ll also use my DSLR, this said 95% or more of the images I share on Instagram and my blog are made with my smartphone.

I shoot pretty much everything with my smartphone, in example, I brought a DSLR to London and Paris a year ago and made 77 pictures with it, while I made about 500 pictures with my smartphone.

I use a DSLR less and less as I now tend to shoot more with my smartphone images I will use to share online and for my personal use.

The device one uses is pretty much dictated with how these images will be shared, online – for online sharing no one really needs more than a smartphone now a days.

To stay on top of the photo sharing streams you must provide a few things, great images and new images on a daily basis… it is easier to provided images on a daily basis with a smartphone, easier to make and process.

I hope the next generation of Pro-Nikon DSLRs will all have integrated Wifi.

With a smarphone camera you don’t have shallow depth of field and other false advantages you gain with a DSLR and fast glass – what you are left with is a very portable camera and your ability to compose great images… or not.

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iLHP:  How do you educate yourself to take better photos?

Patrick: I read a lot of photography books and books about photography. I also look at good images and figure out what makes them good. Images I find good according to my taste and other people’s taste.

I try to attend a couple of workshops every year given by photographers in different field and will travel abroad to learn one tip or technique which I can incorporate into my own photography.

It is a mix bag, mainly I try to do better everyday, I try to avoid staying at one level of photography for too long, for this I need to both travel and experiment to get out of my comfort zone.

For this I need to look outside my own narrow creative field, I tend to look at other types of photography to grow, not just street or landscape photography… I don’t put limits on what I can learn from others.

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iLHP:  Who inspires you?

Patrick: So many people, I find a lot of inspiration from various photographers on Instagram – at one point I started to think my stuff was good because people kept telling me it was. Shortly after I started thinking I was good I noticed a couple of guys on Instagram who made my images made with pro-cameras and lenses look bad using only their iPhones to make their own images. Their stuff was great and it still is!

It made me rethink my approach to photography, I had to unlearn what I used to practice and reinvent myself as a photographer – to this day I still no longer think of myself as a photographer, just a normal guy who makes pictures.

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iLHP: What is one thing that you have learned now that you wished you would’ve known when you first started taking photos?

Patrick:  My time.  Instead of taking hundreds of similar images in a day, being all over the place shooting whatever caught my eye. Just making less images and pacing myself. Quality over quantity, same with sharing images, I used to share a lot more than I do now a days. Pick a theme or two and stick to it, less is more.

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iLHP:  What makes one picture stand out over the rest?

Patrick: That is pretty much different from one person to another, according to one’s taste.  Is it memorable, for me?  It is when I say, “I wish I had made that!”

Often times it will be the composition, a smart composition will trump a great subject badly composed.

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iLHP: What’s your favorite city to shoot in?

Patrick: Paris, is my favourite city to shoot in, there is always something new to discover. Paris was made beautiful and it was built on a human scale.

Wide sidewalks, and places to stop for a few minutes, lots of benches and a lot of tourists. I don’t stand out from the crowd with any camera in any place or time in Paris.

Toronto is close second with London in third place but that may change i the future.

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iLHP:  If you could share one tip with our readers what would it be?

Patrick: It is not the camera you use, it is what you do with it. Focus on the end result, the images you make, as opposed to the device you make them with.

Don’t ever think a better camera will make you into a better photographer, the best device to help anyone grow as a photographer is their smartphone camera!

If you can make beautiful images with your smartphone, you’ll have no problem with any camera. If you can’t – a better camera won’t help you in any way.

torontoilHP: If you had to live in Montreal, Toronto or Paris for the rest of you life but couldn’t visit the other two cities which city would you choose to live and why?

Patrick: Paris, I could never tire of Paris.  But my guess is, even Paris might be a few years like Toronto was. Where ever I am with my wife will be home to me.

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iLHP:  Thank you for your time and agreeing to do an interview with iLHP. We look forward to seeing more of your work.

Patrick: Thank you for asking me to take part in this, much appreciated!

Until next time,

Alyssa

http://instagram.com/capricebianca

https://www.flickr.com/photos/alyssablack/