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Interview with photographer Julia Anne Momtazee

  • How did it all start out of? What inspired you to pursue photography as a profession (or as a hobby)?

My start in photography is not particularly interesting. My high school required a visual arts course to graduate, and after reviewing all the options, I determined photography to be the most interesting. I really enjoyed the first couple weeks of the class and started doing shots outside of what was needed as homework. That initial liking towards the class has grown into shooting something practically every day.

  • Can you tell us about yourself and your background?

I am currently a senior in high school. I plan on pursuing photography in college but not as a major– probably as a minor. I want to combine photography with my interest in history and shoot historical sites like archaeological digs, ruins, or artists. I also like travel photography. The world is so diverse, and every place I go has beauty within it– it’s exciting to capture. So far, I’ve found myself very attracted to shooting the local wildlife in the places I visit. There are so many animals in the world– it’s a personal goal to take photos of as many species as possible.

  • Who were your early influences?

I wouldn’t say that anyone has influenced my style of photography in particular, but a photographer I find fascinating is Gray Malin. I first discovered him when I came across one of his books. Ever since then, I’ve followed his latest photos on his website and Instagram. His use of dogs in his photography is both hilarious and intriguing.

  • What are the subjects that you enjoy photographing the most? What draws you to a particular scene or subject as a photographer?

I love nature, all aspects of it: wildlife, beautiful vistas, vegetation. What draws me, in particular, are things that are entirely unique. When at a location, I always try to photograph species that are endemic to the area– meaning they are found nowhere else. It’s the rarity of my subject that entities me.

  • What has been your most memorable experience related to photography?

I don’t know if this is the most memorable, but it definitely comes to the front of my mind. For my school courses, I get strict photographic assignments. Often I feel they restrict my work, and what I submit does not accurately reflect my abilities. Due to this, my teacher has not often seen what I consider some of my “good” photos. In one class, I had extra time, and I found myself editing a shoot I had done for myself rather than for class. My teacher glanced over at my screen, and he asked if the photo I was looking at was one of my own. I said yes, and he proceeded to say that he really liked it and that I should show him some of my other shots. This seems like something small, but sometimes all someone needs is a small boost of confidence in their work to feel like they are on the right track. Since this was early on in my photographic hobby, it meant a lot for something who has dedicated their life to photography to complement my work.

  • What are some of the challenges of photography?

I would say the obvious problems are technical problems: not having the right gear at the moment or not knowing how to edit an image, etc. But a lesser talked about problem, which I think is quite apparent, is comparing yourself to other pornographers. Especially in nature photography, it can seem like no one will choose your photo of a location over someone else’s. The key is to develop your own sense of style in a photo, to make it distinct– making your locational shot different than everyone else’s.

  • How do you balance between what you see and making it as dramatic and beautiful like a standalone artwork?

The more you take photos, and the more you edit them, the better you get at creating the perfect balance between real and unreal. Personally, I’m always switching back and forth in Lightroom between my raw picture and edited version. I want my photo to be enhanced, not changed. If I find myself shocked at the difference, I usually will know I have gone too far.

  • What do you want to capture in your photographs?

I want to digest as much of the world as possible through photos. Often people forget what they see and what they do. For this reason, I not only want to take photography in order to keep personal documentation of my life and travels, but I want to document the world so other people can see it. The wildlife, culture, and cuisine, of each place is entirely unique–I’d love to share that.

  • Are you always keeping an eye out for what’s new on the camera market?

I’m rarely looking for new equipment. Throughout my interest in photography, I’ve kept the same camera: Nikon D800. Lense-wise, I do switch it up; Some lenses are obviously better for different things. I love to browse new lenses, but it’s not often I make a purchase. My favorite thing to play around with is lens filters. The more you look online at them, the more you find! The possibilities with lens filters are endless— you can find any look you desire.

  • What’s the post-production process like?

It all depends on the type of shoot. After a series of nature shots, including wildlife or landscape shots, I try to keep editing to a minimum. I want my photography to resemble what I saw in real life closely. For a portrait or experimental shoot, however, I will play around with editing. This could mean taking images outside of my usual Lightroom classic editing platform and into photoshop to add, remove, or edit objects/things as I see fit.

  • Where do you want to take your photography career?

I could see my work going many ways, but one future I envision is a travel photographer. There are so many different cultures within various countries, I would love to document all of them. The dream would be to have some sort of gallery or following to show my work while actively traveling and shooting.

  • What’s the most difficult part of what you do, and what advice would you give to up-and-coming photographers?

Finding motivation can sometimes be hard. As I talked about a little before, comparing yourself to well-established photographers can be un-motivating. But everyone has their own journey, own style, and own development. If you’re passionate about something, don’t let someone else keep you from doing it.

  • Where can our readers find you online?

On Instagram.