I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the very creative and talented Fine Art Photographer Joshua Tann. Joshua lives in Long Beach, California and finds inspiration for his photography through his many travels. Most of his photographs are influenced by his love of travel, art and architecture. Through his lens, Joshua has the ability to capture and convey his inspiration for his subjects and their relationship to their environment. As you browse through his photographs below, I think you’ll agree that he’s quite the accomplished photographer.
Joshua, thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview and best of luck to you with all your future creations. You are a very talented photographer and someone whose work is definitely worth following. Your work is truly inspiring and I hope to see more great things from you in the future.
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
I’d say that I am a visual and creative person with an interest of anything linear. I remember being a 12 y/o and drawing a building with a perspective. I was told by my teacher at that time that I may be an architect someday. I did go to college for architecture but a life circumstance and a major move led me to another field of Computer Science and yet another different one in the field of Psychology, where I ended up having a graduate degree and a career. However, my interest and passion of architecture has not diminished. I do have a day job as a therapist and I use my spare time to work on my art. In the end, I’d like to see myself an architecture and travel photographer because my architectural interest takes me to other locations in the world.
Where is home?
Home is Long Beach, California, about 25 miles south of Los Angeles.
After browsing through your website, I see that you’ve built up an extensive collection of wonderful photography. What is it that led you toward this field and how long have you been working in it?
I had Nikon film camera in high school but I lost it. Since I am a visual person in nature, I have always taken pictures in my life. So I took a substantial number of images when we were traveling to Italy in 2007 with a simple point-and-shoot Olympus camera. I didn’t realize that these images gave me the start of my photography passion. I did not get a more serious camera until one day in 2010 when my spouse and I stumbled on a local Artwalk in a downtown area. I thought maybe I can start something. So I did it by creating greeting cards of historical buildings from that Italian trip in 2007 with a caption of the building’s history behind the card. As you know Italy has a rich architectural history. We traveled further with new cameras and took more pictures. This grew to prints and framed prints, followed by opening a store in the same area in 2012 where we sold my photography, jewelry and home décor. We hosted local artists as well in our store. Sad to say that we had to close our store in 2016 but I continued with my own endeavor by traveling and participating in group exhibits in local and international galleries as well as international photography competitions.
What is your favorite part of being a photographer?
My favorite part is to travel to a destination that I know will provide me with rich visual images. For me, there is nothing more exciting than seeing a historical majestic structure and trying to capture it in different ways.
What is the most challenging part of being a photographer?
Possibly because I am mostly self-taught. I took an intensive course at the New York Institute of Photography a while back but like other things, I still need to better myself by taking courses and getting information anywhere I can get. In regards to traveling, carrying the gear can be challenging since they are heavy.
What type of session do you look forward to the most vs what type of session you most often do?
I think since my images are associated closely to travel, I am always excited to see new venues, landmark buildings, urban scenes and people in a new location.
What is your favorite part of heading out to a new location?
Making arrangements for our international destinations.
What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?
To me, traveling is a major factor for my work so it has become my biggest motivation to date. Additionally, I look at architectural and photography books, magazines, blogs, and social media.
How do you keep yourself motivated and your photography fresh?
This may be the most personal thing I can share here. When we had a store, there was this sense of obligations to my patrons or store’s clients to provide a continual stream of new images and products so I worked hard to create them. However, I had a sudden cardiac arrest in 2015. I was told that one of the paramedics even suggested to “call it” since I was unresponsive. So, I almost did not make it with 11 days in the hospital including 4 days in an induced coma. Only about 10% survived without cognitive damage and I am lucky enough to be in that 10%. The physical recovery took 3 months but as often happens to people who go through a near-death experience, you wonder about your purpose in life after the event. Was there a new purpose of life that I should find out? Did I need to finish something I have not finished? I say this because I have had a good and happy life and I achieved most of my life goals. The emotional recovery took longer, even after I realized that my new purpose in life was to continue my art, as it is the only aspect in my life that I still need to develop, nurture and love. Currently, I am doing so by being involved in photography communities, photography competitions, going to exhibits, events and seminars. And yes, it was also the reason why we closed our store in 2016.
What advice can you offer to someone who wants to learn about photography?
Don’t be afraid to fail.
Share with us your favorite image and why.
My favorite image to date is “Mystery” which was taken in Venice in 2013. This image was taken without a plan since it was taken on our way to Piazza San Marco. The image has been acknowledged by 7 international photography organizations and exhibited in 4 venues including the International Art Fair at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
I always have been a Nikon guy. I currently use the full frame Nikon D800. I had the APSC Nikon D90 when I started my photographic journey. Favorite lens is my Nikkor 28-300mm since this is a versatile one while exploring the city even though it is quite heavy.
What is in your camera bag?
Nikon D800, Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lens, Nikkor 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 lens, Tiffen filters and Manfrotto 290 series tripod. I do have a backup gear using my D90 with Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 lens
What is your favorite photography accessory?
My iMac 27” 5K for post-production but I also found that my Pelican memory card case is quite helpful to store and organize my SanDisk memory cards.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
I’d like to own lighter gear to haul around when I travel.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
Absolutely. Photoshop is crucial in creating the nuances of each image that you cannot capture during the actual shot. Additionally, my creativity often flows during the process.
Can you tell me about one of your favorite or most memorable photo sessions? What made it so great and why did you like it so much?
It was during our trip to Venice in 2013 when we had to wake up at 4am to capture the Piazza San Marco without thousands of tourists roaming around it. The piazza is iconic in itself and on the way to it I stumbled upon the mysterious scene of the Bridge of Sighs with its light illuminating the surrounding ancient walls and canal at around 4 am. I could not help but stopped and took several shots with a tripod. I called this image “Mystery” and has won several acknowledgments from seven international photography competitions and was the cover of Black Box Gallery’s catalog of their Shadow and Light exhibit in 2015. I did go further and finally took the shots at San Marco where I found 10 other photographers angling themselves to get the best shots at dawn.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
This happened when we were traveling in Italy. In our first day during the tour at the Roman Forum, I tripped over those thousands of years old cobblestones and in the split second I decided to let myself fall and my mouth hit an ancient ledge to save my inexpensive Olympus camera. Bleeding, my first thought was “I cannot miss this tour.” So, I continued traveling for 2 weeks in pain. But the Italian wine helped! Needless to say, I broke my front bridge and it had to be replaced when we got back to the States.
Are there any areas of photography that you have yet to pick up on that you’d like to learn?
I have been leaning towards black and white for a while so I want to learn more about creating stunning black and white images. I am also working on making a transition to fine art photography utilizing architectural images.
What are your upcoming travel plans?
We’d still like to explore Europe and the Eastern block before venturing to Asia and Australia