A few months ago, I sat down with a man that has been a great inspiration to me and my life as a Photographer. If it were not for me meeting him, I am not sure that I would be shooting today. He helped me, unbeknownst to him, find a way to express myself. His name is Eric Poppleton and he is my Mentor.
When thinking about what projects I wanted to undertake for 2013, I knew that I really wanted to do a series of blog posts on the people that have had a positive influence on me in this business, as well as those that I respect. Could there be a better person for me to start with? I say nay, my friends. I say nay.
Eric has been a photographer and videographer for more than 30 years. Capturing images of people, places and things. Documenting life in a beautiful way. He has been the mentor to many and taught many a class on how to be a better photographer. You can see his work here (opens in new window). I think the thing that still really strikes me about Eric, is his passion for life. I know how lame that sounds, but just look at him! He is 53 years old, aggressively rides a bike almost every day, and loves what he does in life. Here is a bit of what we talked about, while catching up:
Gunnar: Eric, I want to thank you for taking the time to let me interview you for my blog and it is nice to see you again after all these years. I will go easy on you. I promise. So, what got you into photography?
Eric: Well, I was a Junior in college when my parents bought me a camera, and it turned my life upside down. I was studying business and had planned to follow in my fathers foot steps, selling life insurance and offering financial planning, and the camera changed my life. But the real light switch was flipped when my mentor at Ball State University flat out told me "You should be a photographer." I remember walking out of the art building, skipping across the grass, thinking, YEAH, I WANNA BE A PHOTOGRAPHER!
Gunnar: What work in your career are you most proud of?
Eric: It would be easy to say all of it, because it has been a long progression from people, to panoramics to shooting video. I have followed expeditions to the Matterhorn and Everest, worked in numerous countries around the world, photographed countless people, and never had a job that was not sucessful. Then there is the fact that each project keeps getting better.
Gunnar: So, yeah. All of them.
Gunnar: Do you have any unusual talents
Eric: (laughs out loud for a moment) Unusual tallents? Raising a kid? Does that count? You are not born with that one. (laughs more)
Gunnar: What tips would you give to someone that is just starting out in this business?
Eric: Right now? Wow. Uh, don't go and spend a fortune at some fancy photo school. It is not worth it. There are almost no full time opportunities. It is tough right now. I would recommend going into video. There is no reason that things can't move now. Stills will be part of it, but video is huge now.
Gunnar: What is your favorite city that you have had to travel to for work?
Eric: Oh, Katmandu was crazy. It was the most fun. We did not spend nearly enough time there. Then Rome was a lot of fun due to amount of access we had to Vatican City, and lastly would be the Engadin, St. Moritz, Switzerland. That place is unbelievable for landscapes! I could spend years there.
Gunnar: Where do you want to go next?
Eric: Back to the Engadin!
Gunnar: What motivates or inspires you in your work?
Eric: Part of it is that I enjoy the chase of getting the job, and then each one presents its own challenge. I don't ever get bored with it.
Gunnar: If you were not a photographer / videographer, what do you think you would be doing?
Eric: You know, I have been thinking about that. It's kind of hard to get reeducated at my point in life, with raising a child, but will all excuses aside, with the explosion of the internet, engineering would not have been a bad idea. I think that I would really like to do that. There is a ton of creativity in it.
Gunnar: Did I forget anything?
Eric: I think we got it.
There was a lot more banter between Eric and I, as well as some great stories of his adventures, but that will have to wait for another day. I hope you liked this look into the life of the man that I thank for my intro to the world of photography