Hear It!

Say hello to Catalin Petolea a.k.a xalanx – Our featured photographer of the month with a funny case of humor and wicked imagination; but one who can also get downright serious and passionate when it comes to subject on photography. Read on as he relates his journey from space to cyberspace and finally into his world of photography... Who knows, you may find self traveling on similar adventure and end up exchanging notes.

Photographer: xalanx / Catalin Petolea
Country of Origin: Romania

1. Production Equipment: Please list the production equipment that you use on a regular basis (eg. Cameras, lenses, flash & lighting, photo editing software).
Canon EOS 5D with EF 17-40mm f/4 L, EF 50mm f/1.8, EF 85mm F/1.8, EF 100mm f/2.8 macro, EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM, assorted Hoya filters. Manfrotto tripods. Tamrac photo bags.

2. What do you think of photography these days?
After 1 and a half years of exposure in the microstock world, I just love the way photography is these days. It's more and more challenging as it demands new, original ideas.

3. What did you want to be when you were younger?
I've wanted to be an astronaut in the first place - being the avid science fiction reader that I was. Though after that, I realized that it's gonna be difficult. So, having to relinquish the fine moments when everybody would wave to me on the astroport before my ship is about to leave Earth... I moved on to more practical stuff. Like a software developer.

4. Tell us about the time when you first got started in photography.
I first started a long time ago with some film camera (if I'm not mistaken, it was a Zenith). I broke it (somewhat effortlessly) after some intense use and whilst trying to change the film. It felt great (i.e. to take shots... not break the camera) and I thought to myself that I'll need a Polaroid camera, to see the photos the moment I took them. I was very anxious to see the results of my artistic attempts then. I never got one though. After that, I had a very long break from photography. Then 3 years ago, I got a Sony Cybershot P-93A. That was the moment when all things related to photography made sense. I learned, practiced, sold that camera, then bought a Panasonic FZ20 (which I still have) and after plenty reading and practice during my spare time, I got my first DSLR... A Rebel XT. For me, photography is not only a hobby - it was meant to change my life. Fast-forward to the present: 1 year-something in the microstock arena changed photography from a serious hobby to a serious business, and I was in constant development. I now have a full frame 5D, some more lenses and accessories.

5. In your opinion, what does it take to become successful in this industry?
The best gear you can afford, the eye of the photographer, the mind of a business analyst, the intuition of Sherlock Holmes.

6. What was your biggest challenge coming into this industry?
To actually evolve and earn significantly more as the time goes by. I'm succeeding.

7. What are the best perks as a Photographer?
To be lucky to be THERE and take the shot. To get great discounts on photo gears. To travel. To love what you do.

8. How do you plan for your shooting sessions?
I carefully plan each shooting sessions. Planning includes market research, choosing the right model, a document containing general ideas to be followed through during shooting. I always leave room for improvisation.

9. How would you describe your work to first time viewers?
Accurate, clean, tack sharp, imaginative, useful.

10. Do you shoot to what your heart tells you or do you go through a complex check list in your mind when you produce your work? Describe the feeling/check list.
When I'm shooting for stock I do the list I talked about before. When I'm shooting "just because I'm there", I don't, of course.

11. From your experience, what subjects gives you the greatest satisfaction? Any examples?
Breathtaking landscapes, wildlife, macro.

12. From your experience, what subjects are the hardest to work with? Any examples?
I had experience with models which were completely useless because of inability to act in the way I wanted. There's nothing worse than a fake smile.

13. What is your philosophy when it comes to your work?
Your dues are proportional to what you've put in. Therefore I tend to work a lot.

14. Describe who/what inspires you, tell us why?
#1.Nature - You can find patterns, shapes, lines where they're not apparent. #2. Other artists - I'm always looking at some other photographers' work, and every day I find something that amazes me.

15. What do you do when those creative juices just seems to evade you. How do you "get creative"?
Research, study successful photographers.

16. Tell us about a time when inspiration just hits you, and you felt the insatiable urge to create. What did you do with that energy?
I keep creating, of course! That's why I leave room for improvisation at every shooting session.

17. What have you discovered about yourself through photography?
That I can create things that move others.

18. Whose work do you admire the most? Why?
Too many - I would risk making this list ridiculously long. But yes, Yuri is among them :)

19. Do you have any advice for those who are just getting in to stock photography?
It's harder now, compared to one year ago. Next year would be even harder. You have to be a photographer in the first place. Microstock looks less and less like a place for amateurs.

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