If you've ever wanted to know about the people behind the pictures, this is the series for you. We'll be talking to some of our independent photographers from all corners of the globe as well as the people behind some of the best stock photo and illustration collections in the world.
Next we talk to Albert Normandin, a professional photographer based out of Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada. Albert specializes in advertising, corporate and industrial photography, with clients ranging from Air Canada and Telus to Wired and Caterpillar. But his heart is with people and places from all corners of the globe and he has a particular passion for Myanmar. You'll see his images featured throughout the interview below, but we've also hand-selected some our favorite travel images to feature in the gallery.
What was your first camera?
Kodak Box Brownie camera, my mother gave me.
How did you get started in photography?
Throughout my teenage years and into my 20’s I was always experimenting with photography. Eventually I took some workshops, by a few of my heroes, including Jay Maisel. When I saw his work ethic, I knew "This is what I have to do". I quit my job on a Friday, packed up my life and bought a one way ticket to New York City. After working for Maisel for three and a half years, I returned to Canada and to start my own career as a professional photographer.
What was your first job in photography?
My first actual paid job was shooting black and white still lifes for local advertising.
Who or what inspires your work?
Jay Maisel, Albert Watson, Hemut Newton, Nadav Kander, Joel Meyerowitz, Duane Michels and Eric Meola to name a few. Life itself also inspires, as this world spins on around us, there are so many moments of inspiration.
What is the most bizarre job you have done?
Bizarre jobs. I have done more than a few, but here is one that stands out: Photographing cows in the dead of winter in the Canadian prairies. They were very friendly, and kept crowding around me and head butting me with their oversized bulk.
What's your favorite subject matter?
People are the most challenging, interesting and satisfying to photograph. People have feelings, emotions, gesture, movement.
Describe your style. What do you try to capture in your images?
I am all over the place with my style. I'm interested in landscape, people, travel and still-life. I guess you could call my style "Generalist". I'm always searching for moments in time, light and shadow.
What is the longest time you've waited for the “perfect shot”.
With my panoramic landscape cameras, I have often waited hours to get the “perfect shot”. I have also gone back to the same location days later to catch that moment of light.
What gear do you use? Do you change your equipment when you travel?
I am currently using a full Canon DSLR system and Fuji mirror less cameras. I try and pack lighter for travel, usually 5 or 6 lenses and at least 2 camera bodies, and a small carbon fibre tripod. I normally don’t bring lighting equipment and rely on finding natural light. The very under rated 50mm lens is certainly a “must have”.
Do you still use a film camera?
I still have a few large, heavy hand made panoramic film cameras that I use on special projects.
Do you work alone or with a team?
I usually work alone, with maybe one assistant. On larger projects, I have put together teams to help produce the end product. On my foreign travels, I almost always have a guide and driver.
Do you have a favorite season to shoot in?
I do enjoy the shortest, coldest clearest days of winter in Canada. Also fall and spring in Canada, to see the dramatic changes in the natural environment all around.
Where is your favourite place to shoot?
My current addiction is Myanmar (Burma), also just about anywhere in Africa.
What personal projects are you working on?
My current project is focussed on Myanmar, the country. I'm photographing as much as I can as this country is changing. It's opening up to the world more every minute.
What do you like to do when you're not working?
It seems that I am always working on something visual, watching movies and learning and experimenting with motion.
What's on your reading shelf?
I am reading several biographies on musicians and artists.
A mantra or saying you live by?
Don’t be sorry, be happy.
Albert on the Interwebs:
A Few of Albert's Favourite Things:
App: Hyperlapse is fun.
TV show: Seinfeld and The Daily Show
Film: Just saw St. Vincent, Bill Murray was wonderful.
Musician or band: Neil Young, Pink Floyd.
Fine artist: Salvador Dali.