Destin Sparks is an award-winning landscape photographer based in Queensland, Australia. Destin first got started with photography in 2009, and now he’s leading photography tours in Australia and New Zealand. In Destin’s portfolio you’ll find many amazing panoramic images. I recently had the opportunity to interview Destin about his work, and you’ll find his responses to my questions below. I’m sure you’ll also enjoy the sampling of his photography that is featured in the interview.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in photography.
Hello Loaded Landscapes community, my name is Destin Sparks. I’m a professional photographer from Australia. My specialty is panoramic format landscapes using film and digital medium format cameras to create my works. I travel the globe in search of mother nature’s greatest creations, some of my favourites include Yosemite Valley (California), Moraine Lake (Canadian Rockies), and South Island (New Zealand) just to name a few.
I find myself drawn to mountainous landscapes due to their unpredictable microclimates. The weather surrounding mountains can be truly fascinating to watch and even better to photograph.
My first foray into photography began around 10 years ago when I found myself in a camera store working in an unrelated field. My passion for photography can be attributed to my ‘at the time’ work associate who first challenged me to pick up the camera.
Do you have any formal photography training?
I’m completely self-taught. Everything I’ve learnt is through trial and error. Mistakes can be costly when photographing with film, so you learn fast. I’ve always believed that photography is best learnt through practice. Sure, there’s a lot of theory behind photography and much of this is taught in a classroom but once you know the basics it’s physically getting out there and doing it that helps you understand what works and what doesn’t.
What draws you to landscapes rather than other types of photography or subjects?
An impressive natural scene has always had the ability to take my breath away. Whether it’s standing in front of giant cascading waterfall, a snow-capped mountain or the azure water of a tropical island, nature’s beauty just mesmerizes me. I just don’t get that type of feeling from other types of photography. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate a good portrait or a touching wedding photo, I just like to feel immersed by a scene. It’s also the adventure I seek.
How would you describe your photographic style?
Great question and I’m not sure I know the answer. The common theme among all the photos on my website would be ‘vivid’ and ‘panoramic’. I’ve always been fascinated by the rich colours of nature and love to feature that in my work. I tend to stick to a theme for each photograph using just one or two dominant colours. I feel this adds a real impact to the finished works.
Tell us a little bit about the two cameras you use, and in what situations you would use each of them.
My primary camera is the Fuji GX617, it’s my ‘go to’ camera. It has a native panoramic format and can produce the most beautiful colours when paired with my favourite slide film (Velvia 50). Being completely analogue, there are a few caveats I must consider when opting to shoot with this system. It’s a slow camera and doesn’t lend itself well to low light or contrasty situations. It also uses up film very quickly, since an entire roll of 120 film is used within just 4 shots I must choose my compositions wisely.
The newer of my two cameras is the Phase One XF IQ3 100MP. It’s a medium format digital camera and can produce extremely detailed images, its sharpness is unmatched. I tend to reach for this system when lighting is very dynamic. The Phase One handles low light and wider latitudes much better than film but doesn’t have that ‘organic’ feeling that film produces.
Where do you find inspiration?
As a landscape photographer I’m a very visual person. I tend to draw most of my inspiration from pictures and images. You’ll frequently find me scrolling through Instagram and flicking through magazines looking for new destinations to discover. Once I’m out on location I will spot a scene within a scene and just capture the moment.
What is one important lesson that you have learned through your own photography?
Stay true to yourself and don’t let the internet negatively influence your direction. It’s easy to get caught up following what other people are doing, especially on social media. If you enjoy photography, do it for yourself and yourself only. I feel this is one of the most important things I’ve learnt and occasionally need to remind myself of.
What are some common mistakes that you see new photographers making?
I see a lot of beginner photographers over editing their images. I’m not a Photoshop person myself, I like to capture everything in camera, but I completely understand that some photographers like to process their images.
Where I see people going wrong is when they photograph a scene at the wrong time/day and try to turn it into something that it isn’t. The key to landscape photography is lighting. However, great light doesn’t come along often and beginners don’t have the patience to go back in the right conditions so they try to fake it with Photoshop. This is a natural learning curve however, everyone eventually breaks the habit.
Tell us about a favorite spot in your local area that you like to shoot.
Living in Brisbane, Queensland I’m fortunate to have the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast an hour’s drive North & South of me. Both coasts offer beautiful beaches but it’s the hinterlands I’m attracted to. Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast boasts over 500 waterfalls. It’s hard to surpass the natural beauty of our local tropical rainforests.
Aside from photography, what hobbies do you have, or what do you like to do for fun?
I would describe myself as somewhat of a foodie. When I’m not photographing I like to be outdoors. We have great weather here in Queensland almost all year round. Since I often travel to colder climates for photography I enjoy being out in the afternoon sun and near the water, usually kicking back on a picnic rug with a glass of wine in hand.
I also run photo tours for a handful of participants at time, being small groups it’s quite a relaxed environment. It’s almost therapeutic educating and teaching enthusiasts some of my techniques and revealing my favourite photo spots.
Connect with Destin
If you’d like to see more of Destin’s work or get in touch with him, please use the links below.
All photos in this post are © Destin Sparks, used with permission.