Russ shares how his travels across the world framed his photographic journey, his outlook towards framing pictures and his recent visit to Serbia.
I am a cultural documentary photographer, a park ranger, and a wilderness guide. My background includes work in intercultural studies and theology. I have travelled widely as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Papua New Guinea. I previously lived in the Himalayan region of India and spent many days with the nomads of Ladakh’s Changtang Plateau and my most recent adventure was to visit the Nenets Reindeer Herders of Siberia.
My photographic journey started soon after I began travelling internationally. I had long been interested in photography, and I travelled into Tibet about 20 years ago with two really old cameras, one with a faulty light meter, and came back with very few images. One of the guys travelling with me said, “It’s better to have one camera that works than two that don’t.” I decided right then I’d invest in some proper equipment so that I’d be able to share future journeys and properly document what I was seeing. While I still spend money on flights and travel before investing in new equipment, I do make sure that the gear I travel with works well.
What do I look for in a frame these days? I look for what I can subtract from the frame. I prefer images that are clean, with little distraction. It follows a philosophy of “less is more.” I tend towards being a minimalist. I’m careful to look at the edges of the frame and make sure to subtract anything that could form a distraction.
Good photography to me is photography that invokes emotion in the viewer. We’ve all seen images that we remember, that we return to time and again. I hope I’ve made one or two such images along the way.
My photography is first, for me. I photograph to engage with the culture, people, or the land I’m photographing. I photograph what I find of interest. Then I photograph to share with others. By photographing for myself, I don’t have to concern myself with how many “likes” a photograph receives on Instagram. I don’t allow its value to be found there. I would like to see my work in a major gallery one day. Thanks for letting me share them with you today.