On a recent visit to Dublin I met Erik Scraggs, a native photographer with an eye for sweeping Irish landscapes. Read on for the exclusive interview along with a glimpse into Scraggs’ talent.
Hillary Fox: How did develop an interest in photography?
Erik Scraggs: From an early age I always had an interest in nature and the landscape. I always felt a certain emotional connection with my surroundings. I was lucky enough to grow up in and around Wicklow National Park on the east coast of Ireland. As a young adventurous soul, the mountains and mystical nature of the park became my playground and encouraged my natural curiosity in discovering new and wonderful places.
My first memory of really falling in love with photography came in my early teens. I was in a bookstore; it had just been my birthday and I had been given some book tokens. I remember taking home a copy of BBC Wildlife Photographer of The Year. For the next few weeks, months, I would spend hours trawling through the book.
Hillary Fox: When did you start shooting professionally?
Erik Scraggs: Soon after leaving school, I decided to spend a year in Australia. It was here I became acquainted with the work of Peter Lik. I remember stumbling across his gallery on a visit up North to see the Great Barrier Reef. I was instantly in awe of his work and the emotions that he captured. From this day forward I wanted to be a photographer!
Fast forward a few years later and I found myself working at Washington State University in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Finally for the first time I could afford a decent camera. I began to slowly learn my trade in the foothills of the rolling Palouse. A few months later I returned to Ireland, eager to capture the beauty and the emotion of the Irish landscape. I’ve been on one big long adventure since.
Fox: What compelled you to shoot Irish landscapes?
Scraggs: The Irish Landscape has a rugged raw beauty that just encapsulates your spirit. I often use the quote “perfection in the imperfection” when describing the Irish landscape. It’s not like California are Australia where you have these beautiful sunrises and sunsets on a regular basis. Ireland is moody, temperamental and majestic. The lands and its ever-changing moods tell a story. With its wild deserted beaches, dramatic mountainous landscapes, I feel compelled to share its beauty with the world.
Fox: What’s your gear of choice?
Scraggs: Right now I’m using a Nikon d7100, for a cropped sensor this camera is awesome. I just can’t believe the dynamic range and detail that it captures. I primarily use my wide-angle lens. The Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 Pro DX.
In the future I can see myself moving for the Sony Alpha a7R. I think mirrorless cameras will soon be the norm. I’m just waiting for them to have a better choice when it comes to lenses.
Fox: What’s been your greatest challenge in photography?
Scraggs: Thinking that it was going to be really easy and then realizing that it’s probably the hardest thing I’m ever going to do. Finding out that photography is not just about the photographs, you also have to become part web designer, social media and marketing guru and downright magician.
Waking up to the sound of my alarm going off at 4am, living on three hours sleep. Constantly comparing my work to others. The list is endless, but I do it for the love of it… and I wouldn’t change a thing!
Fox: What’s your idea of a perfect Irish landscape shoot?
Scraggs: Standing atop the Wicklow Mountains, with the mist gently rolling through the valleys below, as a new dawn approaches. I love the anticipation the adrenaline. That sense of energy that a new day brings
Fox: Do you have any photography tips for snapping great landscape photos?
Scraggs: Bracket your shots to get the perfect exposure, and digitally blend your images using luminosity masks. If your not familiar with luminosity masks check out Jimmy Mc Intyre and download his easy panel and Photoshop actions at throughstrangelenses.com
Fox: Do you have any advice for emerging photographers?
Scraggs: Dedication to the cause! There is no simple quick road to capturing that great shot. It’s all about perseverance. Great photography takes time, don’t become disheartened, everybody questions themselves at times, it’s what makes you better. Find tutorials online and immerse yourself. Remember you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great!