Ryan Stutt is president of The King Publishing Project, the largest action sports network in Canada. The King Network tells stories about skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing and skiing.Ryan started off covering action sports at SBC Media and after five years as an editor there decided to start two magazines of his own, King Shit Skateboard Magazine and King Snow Snowboard Magazine. Eight years later, he’s got four more action adventure sport titles in the stable. He and his team are constantly assessing photography as they go about publishing 20 issues every year. Without good photography, he says, there wouldn’t be magazines.“Action and adventure sport photography is one of the few fields of photography that constantly surprises me with its growth and change,” he says. What makes a great photo is hard for him to say because there’s a “certain unquantifiable element to it”.“To me, it’s a combination of composition and capturing the right moment,” Ryan says. He encourages up and coming photographers to really study their craft and to quiz photographers they respect about their techniques and approaches. “Practice like hell before you submit photos to publications.”
Evgeny Tchebotarev is the founder and CPO of 500px, a wildly-popular photo community and photography marketplace based in Canada and the USA. With offices in Toronto, New York and San Francisco, 500px focuses on discovering, sharing, buying and selling inspirational photography, powered by creative people from around the globe.
It’s his passion for images that led Evgeny to start the company as a hobby in 2004. “I was trying to connect the best photographers, and reward and enable visual creativity,” he says. The business soon outgrew his wildest expectations. Now in its 11th year, 500px has a huge online photo community of 6 million people worldwide. The company also publishes its own online magazine – 500px ISO – reaching 1 million readers monthly.
As someone who’s seen his fair share of quality shots, Evgeny understand the value of great photography, “500px is built on our community and great photography is critical to the success of our clients, who license the photos. It’s also important for our tens of millions of viewers, who enjoy the photos on their smartwatches, TVs, smartphones, and computers.”
Asked about the value of mobile photography in the digital era, he’s enthused by the possibilities, saying, “I think mobile photography has definitely levelled the playing field, allowing hundreds of millions of people get into photography and test the limits of their creativity. It’s great for the world!” He feels the same about the role of social media, “For better or worse, we are living in a connected age, so you see things in near-real-time, and it helps you feel more immersed.”
As a Red Bull Illume judge, Evgeny will look for more than just striking technical and visual elements in a photograph, “I think the most important thing about the photo is how it makes you feel. If you have a strong emotion due to the image, it’s great — it captures and conveys the message well. Some photos are technically perfect but soulless, and I’m looking for photos that convey soul. I don’t look for sharpness or perfect lighting, but I like to see photos that make my heart sink to my feet!”
As photo director at Sportsnet magazine, Canada’s only national sports publication, it’s a fair bet that a lot of images cross Myles McCutcheon’s desk on a regular basis. But an image has to really stand out for him to notice. A great photo he says is one that ‘makes me pause and think’. “It should make me ask ‘why or how’ or make me say ‘Holy Sh*t!’”“Without good photography we do not stand out as a publication; without good photographers I am out of a job,” he adds.Although he’s been in this role for five years he’s been working as a photo editor and director for 15, ever since joining the business straight after school – when he was ‘thrown to the wolves’ as he puts it!A typical day is taken up by the various jobs of a photo director – fielding editor requests, brainstorming ideas, commissioning photos and illustrations, on-set direction for both video and photo shoots, research… “And of course meetings that could always be 20 minutes shorter.”Myles is open-minded about the opportunities of recent developments in photography, including smartphone use. “Instagram in particular is an amazing tool to showcase and discover. Everyone is a photographer now and talent will shine through regardless of the means used to capture the image.” But there’s one fad he says he’ll be glad to see the back of. “I will be happy when the overuse of HDR disappears,” he says.So if you’re looking to impress, keep it real. “Shoot from the heart,” he adds.