There are many talented photographers on Instagram — each with his or her own style and special techniques that make their images standout among an already crowded field of creative individuals. This guy is a really special breed — one whose talents are unique among the pack.
Our featured artist this week, is one of the most talented photographer that I have come across on Instagram, Morgan Stone Grether’s (@grether on Instagram) photos speak for themselves, and he has a way of reeling you back to visit his feed — eagerly anticipating the next post.
His account on was suggested to me by Instagram, shortly after I joined the service and I have always kept up with his feed, admired his portraits, learned from his macro shooting and tried to pickup whatever tips that I can on this profession that we call photography.
I had to reach out to this talented individual and ask him to talk about how and what makes him do what he does, and perhaps offer some tips that could help the beginning photographer in this competitive field. I am honored that he said yes.
Whats your style of photography, what type of images do you identify with most.
Portrait and travel photography are my mainstays. The old adage of “the key to photography is to stand in front of pretty things” is one I certainly carry with me. I look for the beauty around me everywhere I go, in every face or landscape I see. Probably the single most fun type of shooting though is macro. I revel in the glory of all the tiny, shimmering things that escape our normal attention.
Which photographers influenced you.
I’d say that motion picture cinematographers and directors have influenced me far more than still photographers, as people like Stanley Kubrick or Sven Nykvist or Gordon Willis inform my work on almost a daily basis. But to actually answer your question: my grandfather. His love of snapshots and travel shots was a major influence on me. Colossal. And his joy instilled a lifelong love of the art form across the board. Plus, he taught me to always carry a camera. Essential tip!
What technology (camera/software) do you use most?
I’m not a huge fan of software, and unless I’m just playing around (which I admit I do a lot on social media posts), I try to edit very little or not at all. I try to get the shot I want in the camera.
My two favorite cameras though are my Canon AE-1 and my Canon t3i, both of which are small and light enough for me to cart around on my daily adventuring.
What motivates you to continue taking pictures
Taking pictures has always been an absolute joy. If there ever changes, I suppose I might consider stopping, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen. Social connections are the core of that joy, in not only taking pictures but also viewing them. Photography is the attempt to deliver the emotional activity or charge of a scene across time to the viewer. It’s a connection, pure and simple. The more you as a view can feel emotion or connection to an image, the better it is.
Which is your favorite lens? Why?
My favorites are primes like my 50mm 1.4 and my 85mm 1.2. I see the world as all focused and unfocused points, and these types of lenses mimic that.
What camera gear do you wish you had? Why?
I’d love one of the high-end Leica rangefinders. The size for the amount of quality is wonderful.
How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
I push myself every day to get better, to grow, to learn new things. I’m certainly my own worst critic, picking apart every image from every shoot, thinking about what could have been done to improve them. But on the positive side, it’s wonderful to look at other photographers’ images and pick out what I admire and ponder how they achieved it. That can be the greatest learning experience.
Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?
Impossible to pick one specific shot, but in general my favorite moments as a photographer come when I’m shooting someone’s portrait and they say I’ve captured something about them that no one else quite has been able to do. Each time I hear that I feel like I won the Nobel Prize or something. All the set-up and hard work of the shoot is suddenly so worth it.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
There is no right or wrong setting or angle or perspective or anything. There’s only the choices you make as a photographer. Some may be far more effective than others at conveying certain aspects of a scene, but there’s no wrong. That word is a burden that needs to go away.
What makes the good picture stand out from the average?
Emotion. As I said before, photography is emotional connection. Yes, it’s about light and the absence of light; it’s about color and the absence of color; it’s about framing; it’s about a huge host of important technical details and decisions by the photographer. But that all is secondary to emotion. The more the viewer feels something — sad, fired up, angry, joyful— looking at a shot, the better it is. An “average” shot therefore is one you pass without much notice; a “good” one makes you stop and feel something.
Where are you from, where do you live.
I’ve moved around a lot, but for the past eight years I’ve been based out of Portland, Oregon, USA. I expect to be here a while longer, as it is very hard to leave a place this magical.
Morgan Stone Grether’s skills and talents stretches far beyond instagram. To take a visual journey of his works visit www.grethershot.com.