2018 Spaces Third Place Winner Profile – Ward Russell

by | Jul 19, 2018 | Contests, Spaces 2018

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Image © Ward Russell

“Arches and Domes of Abu Dhabi”

Third Place – Self Promotion / Personal

ASMP: What was your inspiration for taking this photo?

Ward Russell: ARCHES AND DOMES OF ABU DHABI captures a sense of the beauty and grandeur of the interior and exterior spaces of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. It accommodates over 40,000 worshipers.

I was on my way to photograph in India and had a layover in Dubai, UAE for a couple of days. It was then that I discovered the remarkable architecture that was showing up in the last twenty years there. Some examples are the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world. In Abu Dhabi, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, partnering with the Louvre, France and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, where my winning photograph was taken.

As with all my photographs, the light plays a major part in attracting my attention. People ask me why I took a photograph of a not so interesting subject. I have to tell them, it is all about the great light making the subject interesting.

ASMP: What type of setting do you prefer?

WR: In exterior shooting I always look for a great background and then for the right time of day for the perfect light. I then place my subjects in this environment.

ASMP: Is there anything unique about your style or approach?

WR:As a cinematographer in Hollywood for over twenty years, I had to be a master of shooting many subjects and in many styles, be they landscape, architecture, portraiture, high-key, low-key, black and white or color. The curse of having been a cinematographer is that I am unable to limit myself to any one style. I now utilize all of these approaches as I explore the peoples and cultures of the world with my still photography.

ASMP: What type of lighting did you use for this image or series?

WR: As this was basically a day exterior shot, my big decision was choosing the right time of day for the perfect light.

ASMP: How long have you been shooting this type of photography?

WR: Over twenty years as a cinematographer and ten years as a stills fine art photographer.

ASMP: What other photographers’ or artists’ work inspires you?

WR: There are so many great photographers it would not do justice to just name a few. I believe that my most everlasting inspiration has been from the dramatic lighting used by painters of the Baroque era. Having spent many hours studing in art museums during college, this moody Baroque lighting can still be seen in my cinematic style of photography.

ASMP: When did you join ASMP and what do you find most valuable about your membership?

WR: I joined ASMP in 2007 when my focus was shifting from cinematography to still photography. ASMP was a big help in learning the ins and outs of the world of still photography.

ASMP: What is the more important relationship you’ve formed through your ASMP membership?

WR: I have made many good photographer friends through my membership in ASMP. It is through the ongoing friendship and mentorship of Tony Bonanno, photographer, printer, teacher, that I first became a member.

ASMP: What kind of gear do you use?

WR: I am basically a street photographer and have always needed to keep light and moble. My primary cameras and lenses have been a Canon SLR 5D and a 5D2 since I started shooting stills. This last year I have been experimenting with the smaller, lighter weight, mirror-less cameras. This winning image “Arches and Domes of Abu Dhabi” was shot with my current favorite camera, the Fujifilm XT-2.

ASMP: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started your career as a photographer?

WR: I wish I had known that there are easier ways to make a living. But then, they wouldn’t have been as much fun.