Wildlife Photography with Coloratti Scott Frier
by Alan Winslow – May 16th, 2018
Recently we sat down with Coloratti Scott Frier to discuss his incredible thirty plus year photographic career in wildlife photography, why color and color theory are essential in his work, and his color workflow.
We covered a lot of ground so let’s dive right in.
First a little about Scott. He is a wildlife and nature specialist who started working in underwater photography back in the 1970’s. He is a pioneer in the execution and development of underwater photography teaching himself the basics using wooden fish and plastic flowers in a swimming pool. Eventually, over the course of a couple of years, he moved to photographing the ocean. Soon he met Jacques and Jean-Michel Cousteau where he was offered a job as a full-time expedition photographer aboard various research vessels. Eventually he caught the eye of Nikon where he became a technical specialist in digital imaging, underwater and wildlife photography. Scott is also a sought-after educator and lecturer. He and his wife own and still operate Wildlife Photo Workshops specializing in small personal wildlife photography education.
Q: You’ve had an incredible career, and I often hear you speak on the importance of color in your work. Can you expand on that?
A: Color is part of a story. For the most part, I find that in nature and wildlife photography color is crucial. You can’t look at some of these animals and appreciate them without the vividness and the beauty of their colors. And you can’t appreciate the beauty of where they live without the color.
Even more specifically color is essential when we work underwater. When you get down to about five feet or so you start losing the red end of the spectrum, by the time you get down to 10 or 15, all you got left is the blue end of the spectrum. So you have to bring the light with you. And to interpret that world back to the people who haven’t been there, you have to be able to record that color. You can’t believe how beautiful some of these colors are.
Q: If color is so critical to your work what role does color management play in your process?
A: For years I’ve used the X-Rite products for my monitors, laptop and for every paper that I use. I write a profile for it since every surface has a different look and way for absorbing ink. I don’t always trust the profile from the manufacturers, so I like to do my own and then I know it’s specific for my equipment and my situation.
And then, of course, I have my projector profiled as well. When I present my pictures, I want the images to look like I want them to look. I don’t want to project images on the screen and then look at my laptop and be disappointed that people don’t see what I see. I want to control of my color and have a closed loop system of management.
Q: You’ve had an incredible career. How do you stay inspired?
A: The next great photograph. To me, part of the joy of photography is getting the image not having the image. It’s like treasure hunters; you’re going to get that one the next day, the next trip, the next outing, that’s going to be the next great image in your portfolio.
Q: Speaking of great images can we hear the story of the three monkeys in the bath?
A: That image took me the better part of three days to get it the way I wanted. I would hike up to a snow monkey park every morning and sit by the pool and wait. There were several things I was waiting. I was sitting there waiting for the light, and I was trying to get a family together. The warm water creates a lot of steam which is challenging to shoot thru the condensation; nothing is sharp. I would have to sit there and wait for the wind to blow the condensation, away to get a clear shot.
All three of those things were in my mind. When I take a lot of photographs especially when I have time, I like to use pre-visualization. I have an idea of what I want it to look like; I call it hanging on the wall. Then I sit there, and I either try to make that happen by moving around, changing lenses, whatever I need to do, or I sit there and wait for it to happen.
I like to be there when I know the light is right. I know what I want to see, I know what I want to look for. So I’ll sit and wait and wait and wait. I’ve probably spent years of my life sitting around waiting for that moment.
Q: Thank you so much for your time today Scott! One last question. Where can we check out more of your incredible work?
Make sure you head over to xritephoto.com to check out all the color management solutions that Scott and other Coloratti love to use.