Name: Erik Stable
City, Country: Reno, Nev. United States
Website or Portfolio Site: www.erikstabile.com
Preferred Social Network Account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/erikstabile/
What is your name?
When did you begin listening to The Candid Frame?
I'm a new listener. I've been listening to the Candid Frame avidly for about five months now.
How long have you been shooting and what inspired your interest in photography?
I've been shooting seriously since 2005. I've always had an interest in photography, or at least the mechanics of it. When I was a child I remember sneaking into my father's camera bag. I would pull out the Minolta camera body, open the lenses and fire the flash. I was fascinated by it. I can remember the cold, heavy camera body and the smell of film. I love the tools of the trade. But throughout my adolescence I rarely picked up a camera. Then later in life I fell in love with writing, which led me to pursue a degree in journalism. It was there that I rediscovered my love for photography, specifically photojournalism and documentary photography. Now I can't imagine doing anything else.
Do you have a preferred genre or specialty of photography? Why?
Documentary and Landscape Photography. It is my intention to create bodies of work on the duality of nature as wilderness and resource, and to express the oxymoron that is "natural resource." Some of my images mark the beginning of this retrospective. In the end I hope to display a contrast of images that instigate environmental recourse. I want to take photos that expose our faults and discover beauty. I finally feel comfortable enough with my skill level to pursue this genre.
What subject matter, themes, ideas do you like to explore or inspire your photography? Why?
I am drawn to open spaces and the relationship between humankind, wilderness and the gray area that separates the two. I grew up in a small mining town called Winnemucca, right in the middle of Northern Nevada on Interstate 80. I was surrounded by miles and miles of desert, open pit gold mine operations and a deep-rooted Western culture. I grew up hiking, camping and bird hunting. My family raised a breed of bird dogs called German Wirehaired Pointers. We’re a family of avid bird hunters. I am 27 now and I am lucky enough to have two bird dogs of my own with my girlfriend, Kirsha. Our dogs, Gunner and Lincoln, are two of my favorite subjects. When you think about it, there's really no better rift between humankind and nature than a dog. If they could talk, they most certainly would.
What creative or professional goals do you have for your photography?
If I could support myself, while using my photography to contribute to a higher cause, or social discussion on the subject of conservation, I would be satisfied. I am at a place in my photography where I feel confident pursuing these goals.
Do you have an interesting story or anecdote for one of the images you have submitted in your portfolio?
I provided four images from my High Lands Low Lands series. One image that I call “Running Deer Motion” was shot just outside of Winnemucca, Nevada. I made this image while documenting a group of deer hunters, some very close friends of mine whom I consider family. I trusted that they would show me something new as I don’t hunt deer myself. At one point I found myself hunkered down along an aspen grove. I stood there for some time, just waiting. Then a gunshot rang out, filling the canyon with sharp noise. Seconds later this deer emerged from the trees, maybe 30 feet from where I stood. She looked right at me, paused and then ran. I took two shots, and to my surprise, the deer was in focus.
Do you have any personal projects that you have or are working on that we would find of interest?
I have an ongoing desire to document the Sierra Nevada and the Great Basin. There are large swaths of the Great Basin that are rarely documented. People assume there’s nothing there, but the desert is teaming with beauty, oddities and mystery. It's also competing with growing populations, mining, agriculture, ranching and wildfire. Likewise, the Sierra Nevada mountain range is equally fascinating. It’s competing with luxury homes, rampant wildfires and logging. I live in Reno, right between these two regions. It's a fascinating place to live. I’ll continue to document this land as long as I’m here. I’m working on organizing these two regions into two bodies of work, “High Land” containing the Sierra Nevada, and “Low Land” containing the Great Basin. They should contrast well.
What is the story behind the images of your dog and what is his appeal to you as a subject?
Two years ago my we picked up Gunner from a breeder in Northern California. He is, by definition, a gun dog—bed to run long distances, track birds, point and retrieve. But the truth is, Gunner is so much more than that—he is an individual. Over the course of these two years he has developed a unique personality. He has mannerisms, expressions, likes and dislikes, and my photographs only scratch the surface. Gunner is a challenging subject. I primarily shoot with manual lenses, so his energy and curiosity make sharp images hard to come by. Then last winter we got our second hunting dog, Lincoln, and I got to experience an entirely new realm of shooting. Gunner and Lincoln have two very different personalities but when we’re out hiking, they develop a pack mentality. It’s fascinating watching these dogs work together. People rarely get to experience dogs acting like wild, natural-born predators. One might assume this is a violent thing to experience, but the act of stalking, tacking and pointing birds is hard to explain in words. It’s voyeuristic, watching their primal behavior. I’m hoping to capture as they mature into those roles.
What is your favorite piece of equipment, software or accessory that makes a difference in your photography? Why?
Last year I purchased a Hasselblad 500CM with an 80mm lens and I am convinced it has made me a better photographer. This particular camera body shoots 12 exposures of 120mm. If you do the math, each exposure plus processing is going to cost about one dollar, so I want each shot to count. When I use this camera I find myself spending more time inspecting the light and composing the subject and less time fidgeting with my camera settings. I feel more connected to the camera. There's no battery. No LCD screen. Just gears, a mirror, some glass and some film. Aside from that it has a great dynamic range and the texture you get from film is really something to appreciate. When shooting portraits I pair this camera with an old Tower light rail, which houses four 300-watt bulbs. I pass the continuous light though a homemade 4ft x 4ft diffuser and the effect is really appealing.
What tip or suggestion has best helped your development as a photographer? Why?
While I do appreciate the gear, you need to get over the assumption that good gear equals good photos. Some of my favorite photos have been taken on my camera phone. But gear aside here is my two cents. Read about photography, watch movies about photographers, reach out to other photographers and immerse yourself in the craft. A good writer is always reading. Likewise, a good photographer should explore the works of others. Ask yourself what you like about a particular photograph. Be inspired by others and pursue a style. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations and shoot as often as possible. And when in doubt, get closer to your subject.Which episode of The Candid Frame photography podcast would you recommend to others? Why?
It is, without a doubt,
"The Candid Frame #193 - John Ellis & Laura Preston (The Democratic
Travelers)." After listening to this episode I spent a good two hours
hounding craigslist for an Airstream trailer. The idea of living a nomadic life
is extremely appealing to me. John and Laura are an inspiration and listening
to their story has had a lasting effect on me and my goals.