Derek DiLuzio: High on Action and Adventure

Landscape image of Craggy Gardens

Landscape image of Craggy Gardens

Derek DiLuzio is a highly regarded photographer based in Asheville, North Carolina.  He has shot images for some of the top editorial and advertising clients, including Bike Magazine, Men’s Health, Patagonia, Sotheby’s International Real Estate, and Teton Valley Magazine. After a few stints of guiding trips in New Zealand and Central and South America, Derek decided to devote full time to photography. This week Derek speaks to atlas about how he transitioned from guiding trips to photography, what a typical day is like for him on one of his shoots, and what he’s working on next. (Editor’s Note: As we enjoy the holidays this week, we revisit one of our favorite features from the past year. Enjoy!)

How long have you been shooting outdoor adventure photography?

Derek DiLuzio: Until I was about twenty, photographers bugged the hell out of me.  I would watch all these people take pictures and completely miss moments going on all around them.  Around that age I guided a trip abroad in New Zealand.  I brought two disposable cameras and rather than just taking a picture of what was in front of me, I tried to be different.  The images I made were unlike everyone else’s.  I was hooked.  I continued to photograph trips I was guiding to Central and South America and quickly realized I was so focused on photography that I was not giving my clients the experience or care they needed.  I quit the guiding business and jumped into photography.  I have been doing it professionally for just over ten years now.

You shoot landscapes, lifestyle, portraits, and adventure. Which genre do you enjoy shooting the most?

Must I pick one?  Most of my work begins with the landscape. That being said, as soon as an athlete begins to interact with the landscape whether it be on foot, pedaling a bike or simply having a cup of coffee, the picture truly comes to life.

Dani Giannone mountain bikes near Brevard, NC.

What is a typical day like for you on a shoot?

It is a very long and physically demanding day.  As photographers, we live and die by the light.  That means I have be on location not only from sunrise to sunset, but twilight to twilight, setup and ready to go.  Often that means getting out of bed at 3:30 am, loading the truck, driving an hour to the trailhead, pedaling or hiking to a remote location by twilight. Next, setup and be ready to shoot as the sun is cresting the horizon, and that’s just the morning.  Typically we will have a second location for the afternoon and evening and we will not break down until after sunset.  It is a ton of hard work but it is truly exhilarating to create images in those types of environments.

Zachary Simon ski's off a cliff at Grand Targhee Resort.

What kind of camera and equipment do you use?

I have used Canon equipment for years and it has served me well.  However, the systems are going smaller and lighter as technology continues to evolve.  I have been more and more intrigued by the Sony systems and seem to be moving in that direction.  Right now, it is a combination of Canon and Sony gear.

Are there any photographers whose work inspire you? If so, who?

Yes and no.  Lately I have been moved by the work of Parker J. Pfister, William Huber, and Sterling Lawrence.   I tend to gravitate towards other mediums of art for inspiration, including music and fictional storytelling podcasts. Tanis is one I have been listening to most recently.

Will Harlan runs at Lake James, North Carolina.

Are you working on any new projects?

Yes, but they are under wraps as I am currently rebranding and redesigning the website.  Hopefully, everything will go live towards the end of July with plenty of new and exciting images.

Auroras over Grand Teton National Park

If you had one piece of advice for an aspiring photographer, what would it be?

Do not show up to your next dinner party.  I have found the best light to shoot is often at the most inconvenient times.  Cancel your plans, get out, and create!

Thanks for being our photographer of the week, Derek!

For more information about Derek, visit his website.  All images © Derek DiLuzio.

Lee Nordbye: Exploring the New Frontier

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Lee Nordbye is a landscape and astral photographer based in Alberta, Canada. A gifted photographer, Lee has a masterful eye for capturing stunning and beautiful nature scenes that look like paintings you might find in the top museums in the world. After some time dabbling in freelance photography work, Lee recently began a new chapter in his career and launched his own photography business where he will delight and devote full-time to creating magnificent images that will undoubtedly inspire us for years to come. This week Lee speaks to atlas about the launch of his exciting new business, his trips this summer in Canada and Greenland, and what projects he is working on next.

Since we last featured your beautiful work in the summer, where have you been photographing recently? 

Lee Nordbye: I spent the summer exploring the Canadian Rockies near home, the Yukon in June, and Greenland in September.  It is always great to explore the mountains at my doorstep, but I have to say exploring two amazing northern frontiers was the highlight for me this summer. In the Yukon, I was amazed by the variety of landscapes.  Within a four hour drive of our home base, we got to see and document seascapes, deserts, and of course rugged mountains.  As for Greenland, let’s just say I am still piecing together my mind that was blown away. Being witness to the out-of-this-world scenery — whether it was amazing aurora lights shows over icebergs, pastel heavenly sunrises and sunsets or coastlines that were straight out of the movie Lord of the Rings — was truly a privilege.  Being able to document it with a camera alongside great friends was the proverbial icing on the cake.  I am already starting to plan my next trip which I hope to be four to six weeks long in 2018.

Congrats on launching your photography business. What inspired you to take the plunge?

Thank you very much.  It is with a lot of nervous excitement that I set out on this new stage of my career.  In terms of the inspiration to take the plunge, it is coming from the heart in that photography a passion of mine.  Life dealt me a new set of cards in the spring when I lost my job in the oil industry.  I jokingly say that perhaps one of the reasons I lost my job is because somehow my boss knew that at times I would sit in my office staring out the window wishing I was in the mountains capturing those special moments.  I truly believe that things happen for a reason and often those reasons turn out for the positive.  So here I am now trying to make a living by pursing a life passion.

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Is it easy or difficult to switch gears from being a freelance photographer without a formal photography business to now launching your own business?

The short answer is no; it is not easy.  The longer answer is photography is an extraordinarily tough business to become successful in regardless of whether you have formal training or not.  The digital age has made it a highly competitive industry and difficult to make a living.  The successful photographers are those that are about hard work and have a willingness to learn from their mistakes vs. relying on their creative talent.  Photographers need talent, but if you do not work your butt off and want to improve, you will not be very successful.

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If you look on social media like Twitter and Instagram, the number of people identifying themselves as photographers keeps expanding. How do you make yourself and your work stand out from the rest?

The holy grail of the photography business is finding your unique perspective in photography.  As you point out, unique perspectives are becoming as hard to find as the Holy Grail with the big increase in photographers.   I am not sure my artistic vision journey is much different than others.  It starts with focusing on me and what I am passionate about.  It is about exploring different ideas and focusing on those that bring the most excitement to me.  Secondary to this, I spend time on social media looking at other people’s photography to look for inspiration, not replication.  I follow photographers in many different genres because often inspiration comes from something on the other end of the spectrum.  My ultimate goal is that one day people will look at a photo without even knowing who took it and say “Hey, that is a great photo from Lee Nordbye.”

What are you excited the most about running your own business?

The ability to wake up every day and doing something that I am super passionate about.  To enjoy the moments like I did this morning with my very first client where they got excited to capture family photos in the famous Alpen glow. To hear the client at the end of shoot say I had so much fun this despite the 5:30 am wake up call.  To share special moments like this one, that I have had the privilege to experience in the past, with my customers is super exciting.

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Aside from your new business, are you working on any new projects?

To follow up from your earlier question, I set a goal this year to capture five unique perspectives on some of the iconic locations in the national parks.  I have three to five to date.  Before the end of the year, I need to finish this goal.  The funny thing is when I set this goal, I had a number of planned shots in mind but so far the three I have captured were inspired “in the moment.” It is great to get those planned shots, but the spur of the moment inspirations are very gratifying.

You are a father of two. Have your children caught the photography bug?

My oldest son goes through stages where he enjoys taking photos.  We have given him our very first point and shoot digital camera to work with.  However, currently he and his brother have the standard young person bug —  computer games.  I am hoping to reignite the bug next summer when we go on hikes together.

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Thanks for being our featured photographer of the week, Lee!

For more information about Lee, visit his website.  All images © Lee Nordbye.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, atlas!

From my Southwestern Adventure of 2011, I had the pleasure of hiking out to The Wave! I got an early start before sunrise hoping I could at least get some alpenglow on some mountains, though the sunrise was uneventful. This hike is killer with so many awesome things to see and shoot! I made a point to pick out spots to explore and capture on my hike back out. They say it's only a three mile hike, but with some steep, rocky, and thick sand inclines, as well as some long, thick sandy trails, my little body felt it was more like six miles! It took me about an hour to get here as I stopped for a breakfast snack, to take a few shots, and simply enjoy the views. The weather was perfect...a bit chilly in the early morning and warming up for the day, but not unbearable. It will always be one of my favorite experiences.

Editor’s Note: This week we celebrate our blog’s first anniversary! It has been an incredible and wonderful first year for atlas. We have been so honored and privileged every week to showcase the beautiful works of so many talented emerging and established photographers from around the world. Every single photographer whom we interviewed this past year — from Canada to South Africa —  has inspired us with their passion, their stories, their hard work, and of course, their gorgeous artistry. We thank all of our featured photographers and more importantly, we thank you, our readers, for making atlas’ first year a big success! 

During the week, we are going to celebrate our first year by looking back at many of the beautiful and spectacular images that have graced these pages as well as give well-deserved shout-outs to some special folks who have made this blog a reality. We welcome any and all of your suggestions and comments on what you would like to see as we head into our second year so do not be shy to send a note on our Comments page. As always, thanks for all your good vibes and support and get ready for another year of intriguing interviews and breathtaking photography by some of the best and talented photographers in the field. A birthday toast to atlas!

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© Chris Konig

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© Camille Seaman

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© Ross Willsher

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© Bill Lies