I’ve recently had the pleasure of interviewing a very talented and experienced Fine Art Photographer from Boulder County, Colorado. His name is Bo Insogna and he draws inspiration for his visually stunning photograps from his very own unique view of the world through his camera lens. Bo’s body of work is quite diverse and his passion for photography speaks for itself.
Thank you, Bo, for taking the time to respond to each question and giving the readers a glimpse into the mind of a person who truly enjoys what they do. Your body of work is inspiring.
Where is home?
Longmont/Boulder, Colorado. Hometown-raised, grew up and proud to be from Pittsburgh in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Can you please tell our readers a bit about yourself?
I try to look at everything on the positive side and with a sense of humor. Grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, then moved to follow my sisters to Scottsdale, AZ, went back to Pittsburgh for tech school for electrical then back to Scottsdale, being very young decided AZ was not for me and I did not enjoy being an electrician. So out of the blue, I picked Boulder, Colorado (this was when Mork and Mindy was really big and even ended up living a few doors down from the Mork and Mindy house on Pine St. nano nano.) I did not know a single person and it was the best time and experience of my life.
Growing up in Pittsburgh I was always in rock bands as a keyboard player and very involved in music. I ended up trading my music creativity for photography. So I studied and opened my first studio in Boulder, Colorado in the mid 80’s. It was a loft a few doors down from the Army Navy Store a couple blocks from the infamous Pearl Street Mall. In 1987, the economy got really bad in Colorado so I moved back to Scottsdale to be near family and ended up working for an Arabian Horse Magazine getting to shoot one of my favorite subjects horses, trainers, riders and the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show. There were BIG Arabian horse ranches everywhere in north Scottsdale at the time and these are now all large housing developments that bear the Ranches names. 20 years later after getting married, buying a house and having a kid, we decided to move back to Colorado when the market was high in Arizona and low in Colorado. We settled in Longmont, just outside of Boulder. As a matter of fact I ended up selling my Fender Rhodes Piano many years later for my first real digital camera.
After browsing through some of your work, I see that you’re truly immersed in the field of photography. What is it that led you towards photography and how long have you been working in it?
When I moved to Boulder in 1979, I was working in restaurants and taking some PT classes at CU. From a young kid I started taking pictures with our old square BW Browning Camera. You would hold it waist level and look down to take the photos. Next, I got a 110 camera, you would put a dead flash on it to slow down the shutter. As I said earlier I was also a keyboard player in rock bands as I got into high school. When I realized that I was not going to make it as a “Rock Star,” Photography took over as my creative outlet. It was always a dream job. I did keep my foot in the restaurant business at night and photography by day in my younger years. Food, cash and photography.
Are you self-taught or formally-taught?
I studied with the New York Institute of Photography in the 80’s and a lot has changed since then. Photography is always an ongoing learning experience and ever changing industry. So I am always taking classes and learning new techniques and software.
Are you satisfied with your choice of getting involved with this industry? Is there anything else you would rather be doing?
Yes, I am very happy with the choice. As they say “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Very happy to be in this business and do not know what else I would do at this point in my life.
Regarding your styles of photography, which do you prefer the most (landscape, environmental, etc…)?
I love doing climate/weather images, but after 30 years of chasing lightning storms I have decided it will no longer be my main subject and to not let storms take over my life like they have for 30 years. Always feel I am missing “Thee Shot.” For years when thunder roars I would grab my cape and bag and be out the door. My wife would always say the same thing as I am leaving, “be careful out there.” Every night during storm season I would get out in position, wait for the first strike and then the fun would begin. When I first started in 1987, it was rolls and rolls of film shot, then waiting a week for the photos to come back hoping for the killer shot.
Today it is instant gratification and there are some great weather apps too that help. Now that I’m getting up there in age I have some limitations too. Timed stacks have also become a new favorite. This is where you shoot 400 images or so and stack them. So for me a do a time lapse and then turn it into a timed Stack image. Also more long exposures, nature landscape and interesting light. I also love doing very large panoramic stitched images that can be printed up to 9’ wide.
Regarding your photos, which truly are remarkable, what advice can you offer to those who would like to begin taking these types of photographs?
Thank you. Get out there and do it. Never give up. Take classes, learn your craft. And if it is weather photography get a beat up car. Hail is the Enemy. As I always say HAIL NO! Just be careful out there. Safety is number one. Show the news and don’t be part of it.
Is photography your full time career?
What is your favorite part of being a photographer?
Creating fine art. Looking at everything as an art print. Everyday is like a scavenger hunt. Being out in remote places in nature. Meeting interesting people. Also finding a cool shot anywhere… even your own back yard. Beauty is everywhere.
What is the most challenging part of being a photographer?
Number one would be marketing. And the ever changing digital world and keeping up with equipment and social media. I remember back when all the hard core photographers held on to film cameras and dark room for years. I was one of them. It took a long time for digital to get there. And then when it did, it was like computers they would advance every year and you had to upgrade a lot to keep up to stay on the professional level. Finally, all that has slowed down and leveled out a bit. Cameras are still making progress but at least you can keep a camera a much longer now.
What do you do to keep your photography fresh and how do you stay motivated?
I keep a shoot list in my phone that is my go to list for ideas and motivation. Never run out of ideas when you write them down as you go and see something for a go to later.
Share with us your favorite image and why.
This was my very first Lightning shot and first time out in 1987 chasing lightning. This was taken on film and it hooked me to be a lightning chaser and gave me the name “The Lightning Man.” Was never into tornadoes or flying cows. I am moving away from weather photography after 30 some years. Safety is number one and storms are getting more extreme. There are a ton more people doing it now.
What do you hope viewers take away from your images?
WOW! The one thing I like to hear. So I am always hoping to “Wow” people.
What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?
Flickr has always been a great photo community, a place to find great images and inspiration. It has changed a little over the years. It will be interesting to see what will happen now that Verizon has bought it. 500px is also a great place to get inspired for images all over the world. I love to see work from other places and I am not one to look at too much local stuff because I do not want to be influenced to keep my local images fresh and original. When a storm hits it is hard for me to see shots the next day too, because I feel guilty I did not get out there. I am a recovering storm chaser, it is getting better and does not drive me crazy that I am not out there like it used to. My twitter feed @bophoto, has a lot of artist and photographers so I get a lot if images daily. Same with G+. Weather photography is about 20% of my business and not everyone is into lightning, so I have tried to be versatile and shoot what I think will sell.
What industry sites and blogs do you read regularly? Would any stand out as particularly motivational or inspirational for someone who might be interested in learning about photography?
DPS – Digital Photography School is a great source of information and learning: digital-photography-school.com
Stuck in Customs – is another one of my favorites. Trey Ratcliff is the original HDR guy and has some amazing stuff and inspiration. Another great educational blog. Met him on Flikr many years ago: stuckincustoms.com
HARO for shooting ideas: helpareporter.com
Dave Marrow is amazing with tutorials and night photography. Fantastic new YouTube channel, too: davemorrowphotography.com and youtube.com/user/TheDmorrow32/
PetaPixel for what is going on in the industry: petapixel.com
Outdoor Photography Guide has a ton of great information on a regular basis: outdoorphotographyguide.com
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer just starting out?
Find a niche and stick with it. Never give up. Learn marketing, it is 80% of the battle.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark iv, Canon 6D and Canon 7D. Favorite Lens would be Canon 24-105 walk around lens.
What is in your camera bag?
It’s a BIG bag. Canon 5D mark iv with 24-105 lens. Canon 6D with Tokina 11-16 / 2.8, Canon 7D with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens ( also a favorite lens). Canon EF 28-135mm 3.5 IS. GoPro 4 and mounts. Canon Vixia Video camera. Canon Speedlight 580X, 3 Strobe wireless transmitters. Tons of batteries and memory cards. Tablet, gray card and flashlights. Wireless remote. Filters and timer remote switches.
What is your favorite photography accessory?
Wireless remote and polarizer.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
A DJI Phantom 4 Pro+ Drone.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
Very important. It is better than the darkroom used to be. Do not miss the chemicals either. Gives a lot of creative options.
Was there a point in your photography journey when you started to feel really good about your work? If so, what did it feel like to get past that “tipping point?”
Getting interviewed on Arizona local TV and called by the BBC. Also being asked to do a one man show at the Fine Art Center in Colorado Springs that I ended up having to turn down because of going to Asia and then being replaced by 3 weather photographers. It felt like “I had arrived.”
Are there any areas of photography that you have yet to explore and that you’d like to learn?
Drone photography and video. How to do workshops, tours or mentor.
Do you see yourself as a photographer many years down the road?
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
Hopefully the opportunity to photograph Italy. Chasing wild horses. A book I have wanted to do for years. Collaborate with a writer on some projects. The one thing I wish I was better at “writing.” And do more shows.
I have also built a Cargo Trailer Conversion Called “Rolling Thunder” Cabin on Wheels, Gourmet Kitchen in the Front Cantina in the Rear. It is my mobile office and part of my YouTube Channel. You can check me out here.