I’m excited to share an interview with a very talented landscape and nature photographer from Connecticut. His name is Simmie Reagor and he finds inspiration for his work with his connection to the natural world. Simmie is a talented photographer who excels at capturing the beauty and flux of nature and conveys this connection through his photography with his viewers.
Simmie, thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us and thank you so much for all your thoughtful responses. It’s not every day we get a behind the scenes view of such an engaging artist.
Where is home?
I was born and raised in the Chicago area for 12 years but after living in several other states, the place I call home now is Connecticut for 34 years.
When did you first realize that you wanted to get into photography and how long have you been involved with it?
I have always had a camera of some type since my early pre-teen years but never really took an interest in it, sure I took pictures, but they really had no intent just record shots or goofing around shots. I didn’t really get into wanting to be more deliberate until 2005. A family friend who is a photographer in the Navy asked me to help with some candid shots at a wedding and showed me briefly how to operate one of her professional grade cameras. I believe that was the point where my technical side wanted to know more, so I purchased my first entry level camera and began to delve more into the art of it.
Are you self-taught or formally-taught?
I am self-taught. The technical side was the easy part. Learning the craft of photography has come from videos, blog posts, workshops, art museums, camera club and of course interacting with other photographers. It is a constant endeavor.
What is your favorite part of being a photographer?
I would have to say being out in nature is the main benefit for me. Even if I don’t get any pictures just being in the moment in the natural world is very restorative, I feel centered. For many years I took that for granted and it felt good to connect with the natural world again. Better late than never I guess.
What is the most challenging part of being a photographer?
I know other photographers as well as myself from time to time will complain that the light isn’t good, there’s no interesting clouds, or the weather isn’t just right. You must be grateful and enjoy the moments you have on this planet and make the most of whatever is thrown your way and make sure your images say something about that moment and don’t succumb to cult of perfection. This can be difficult, especially if you frequent social media.
Locations and weather conditions seem to be a crucial aspect of a successful picture. How do you handle these unpredictable factors?
Planning and preparing as much as you can. This includes knowing the environment you will be going into and having the correct equipment and clothing to deal with it, this includes knowing the weather forecast or the tidal times. Having protection for your equipment from the elements and knowing how your equipment will function in certain environments such as the extreme cold. All these things should keep you out there longer than normal. Also, be flexible in your plans and be ready to shoot something different or nothing at all depending on the situation. Just remember to be safe and let someone know where you will be if you are going out alone.
What type of session do you look forward to the most vs what type of session you most often do?
I think I just look forward to going out period. I would say reviewing my work that water of any type seems to dominate my portfolio. I believe I am drawn to it.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
I would have to say it was my most recent trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. I have been there twice before but that was before the photography bug hit me. Regardless, Acadia is a magical place.
What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?
I would say is that I am a puzzle solver and in my full-time work in the Information Technology field there is a definitive solution or set of solutions for every problem. Once you have achieved that goal, you move on to the next problem. Photography’s end goal for me is unattainable as much as it is attainable. For me, I believe that the results are more about yourself than anything else. There are no right answers, just your personal representation of a moment you just saw both in the capturing of that image and in the processing of it. You can visit the same location many times and depending on a myriad of factors come up with a different result every time, that is fascinating.
How do you keep yourself motivated and your photography fresh?
I just keep shooting! There are times when real life intrudes upon my time and I won’t be able shoot as much and that will usually result in not wanting to shoot. I find if I make myself shoot even if I don’t want to, just the act of being outdoors gets me back in the groove and the more I do it the more I want to do it. So, to borrow a phrase from Brian Peterson, “You keep shooting!”
What do you hope viewers take away from your images?
There is beauty in your “backyard.” Get out (if you can), shoot local and see that there is beauty around you that needs to be preserved as much as those dream locations. For those people who really cannot get out for whatever reason then I hope that the scenes of serenity I capture can bring them the same comfort and balance as they bring to me.
Share with us your favorite image and why.
I don’t know if I have a favorite. That’s a difficult one to contemplate, it changes from week to week. There is one that probably stands out the most in my memory. (Morning Dream) It was the first time I visited the park and the plan was to get there 45 before sunrise and find a decent composition. I took the wrong trail near the beginning and about 20 minutes in I began to sense I had taken the wrong path. I picked up the pace and found the correct trail back to where I needed to be, already knowing I would not get there until after the sun had already risen. To my surprise the area where I planned to shoot from was still shrouded by fog and though the sun was up it was still behind the mountains and the light was soft and beautiful. I found a composition that mimicked someone coming out of the forest to a fall scene below. From there the day just got better and better. Sometimes you think you’ve taken the wrong path in life and it’s too late to attain your dream, only to realize that all those steps along the way got you exactly where you needed to be.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
I currently shoot with a Nikon D750. My favorite lens is my 20mm f/1.8 lens but the one that is on the camera the most is the 24-120mm f/4.
What is in your camera bag?
The Nikon Camera body and 3 lenses, 20mm f/1.8, 24-120mm f/4 and the 200-500mm f/5.6.
What is your favorite photography accessory?
I would have to say my filter Nisi Filter system. Being able to slow down time, even in the middle of the day adds another dimension to my work.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
A second body. It would be nice to do video or time-lapse and still have a camera to take pictures with.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
Lightroom and Photoshop are both tools in my workflow. Since I shoot in RAW it’s essential to be able to bring back what I saw from the flat RAW file and put my own style on it.
Was there a point in your journey when you started to feel good about your work? If so, what did it feel like to get past that ‘tipping point’?
I really don’t know when that point was, all I know is that one day I didn’t dislike my work so much anymore LOL. I am still very critical of my work, but I am at a point where I no longer doubt my decisions and I don’t fear experimenting with compositions and different shooting styles. Shoot into the sun, try unconventional foregrounds, experiment with textures it doesn’t matter if I am shooting with a purpose and visualizing the end result.
Are there any areas of photography that you have yet to pick up on that you’d like to learn?
I would currently like to do more Astrophotography.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
The added thing besides the Astrophotography, I believe I want to start doing more video as well as aerial photography/video. Hopefully, that would lead to some training possibilities for other photographers.