Thomas Slatin discusses some of his favorite portraits and adventure photography, providing technical insight as well.
Thomas Slatin, continuing a decade of his photography in review, reflects back on 2011 to discuss his photography of abandoned resorts, and as well as to reflect on his portrait photography of musicians and their dog. Through his discussions of some of his favorite photography shoots, spanning the last decade; other photographers on the rise can also gain some valuable insight as he scans the decade for some of his favorite photographs, as well as great memories through his work as an adventure photographer.
Thomas W.P. Slatin is a well-known photographer who is truly passionate about his work in photography ranging from urban exploration, and adventure photography to stunning landscapes, and portraits of people, as well as animals. His animal photography contains both domestic animals, and beautiful pictures of wildlife, as they thrive in their natural environments.
During 2011, Slatin’s camera of choice was a Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Slatin stated in a recent interview, “It is said that every artist has their favorite tools to create their art. My camera equipment of choice is made by Canon overall.” He has changed cameras over the years, yet Canon is the manufacturer of cameras that he returns to again and again. Slatin stated that back in 2011, he utilized a zoom lens on his Canon EOS 5D which “zoomed” from 24 to 105 mm. ” Whereas today I have acquired a multitude of different lenses to fit my Canon DSLR, which vary depending on the subject and situation.”
Slatin discussed being able to secure permission to photograph several abandoned resorts in New York State during 2011, during a year that photographing abandoned resorts in Upstate New York was one of his areas of focus. Slatin states, “I was able to secure permission for several abandoned resorts in New York State. Specifically, Old Lodge near New York City, and Aiden Lair Lodge in the Adirondack Park. The work from those two photography shoots is viewable in their entirety on his website. The specific links include, www.tomslatin.com/old-lodge-edit/, and www.tomslatin.com/aiden-lair-lodge/.
According to Slatin, he most often “spends a lot of time researching properties, well in advance.” Providing advice to photographers who may be starting out in photography, Thomas Slatin recommended during his recent interview, “connecting with people to discuss the photoshoots you wish to do when it involves an abandoned property, or any property for that matter; and always of course, definitely seek permission from the land or property owner, as this is a must.” Speaking of his photo shoots in 2011 and others moving forward to this day, Slatin states, “I find my best locations by talking to members of the communities, who live in these locations where the properties are still standing. It is often elderly members of a community who have a wealth of knowledge to share regarding historically relevant properties.” Slatin recalls reaching out to area store keepers, or a retired long-standing member of a public safety department, and or even a well-known mail carrier. “These are all people who would be well-known to the community, who have a lot of knowledge about the community’s historic and sometimes long forgotten (by most yet not all), abandoned properties. Slatin continued to state, “I have had much success in traveling to places that were otherwise forgotten about; yet, speaking with people who had spent decades in the area, I truly learned so much. These people were more than happy to share stories about the community, and more specifically, the locations that once were, and as well as recommending others whom I should speak to.”
Thomas Slatin recalls, due to their states of disrepair, Old Lodge and Aiden Lair Lodge were two of his most dangerous and risky photography shoots. “Both locations were already in a state of partial collapse, which presented a unique set of challenges and risks. The historical significance was all the more reason to photograph these places before they fell into such disrepair that they could no longer be entered or photographed at all.”
It was in 2011 that Slatin learned how to work with harsh lighting situations to a greater extent specifically how to use HDR (High Dynamic Range) to photograph a lot of the unpredictable lighting in the old buildings. Discussing this, he remembers having to create HDR images by taking at least three (or more) images at different exposures and then merging them using photo editing software. “Thankfully, technology has improved and my current camera does this task well, though it is time-consuming to process HDR exposures in-camera,” states Slatin.
When Thomas Slatin was asked to select a favorite photography shoot from the year, he immediately knew the answer, “It was the Old Lodge.” Continuing, The Old Lodge is a location that I often think about still to this day, it was also one of the largest and most dangerous locations that I have ever photographed thus far. It was also a location in which almost everything was left behind. Slatin recalled finding many relics of the past, to include old books and old cassette players, strewn across the floor. Slatin also found children’s drawings spread over the floor in one room, and in another, he saw an entire room was covered with a pile of books that was at least a foot high, encompassing the entire floor of the room, according to Thomas Slatin. Slatin recalls speaking with locals after the photo shoot of the Old Lodge, “It was reported to have been used for various purposes, including as a hotel, private residence, as well as private school. Yet, other people told me that the property had been used as a nursing home and orphanage for a period of time, though the latter two claims were unable to be verified.”
The most interesting photo shoot of Slatin’s recollection, in a very beautiful way, consisted of photographs that he took in Alexandria, Virginia. The photographs were of two musicians and a dog who was definitely considered to be part of the family. Speaking up about his dog, after being photographed by Slatin, the man said, paraphrasing, “I think my dog may be even more photogenic. Slatin recalled the musicians, “One musician was playing tuned wine glasses filled with water, while his best friend (aside from his dog), played an acoustic guitar. Between sets, I asked the pair if I could take their picture. The musician playing the wine glasses agreed to a picture only while he was playing, while the man who was playing guitar lit up a cigarette and was more than happy to pose for his picture. Concluding, “It was after I took a picture of the man playing glasses, that he suggested that his dog might be more photogenic. The musician called his dog by name, and after pointing at the ground, the dog came over and layed on the ground so I could capture this photograph.”
www.tomslatin.com/the-music-trio/ These photographs are also included with this article, scroll through and take a look.
Remember to check back next Thursday for another year in review of photography as discussed with Thomas Slatin.