DALE SHARPE’S LANDSCAPE AND NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY WORK HAS APPEARED IN PUBLICATIONS ALL AROUND THE WORLD. YET IT IS GAINING THE APPROVAL OF HIS LOYAL SOCIAL MEDIA BASE THAT MATTERS MOST TO THE QUEENSLAND-BASED SNAPPER.
Queensland photographer Dale Sharpe distinctly remembers the feeling he had the first time a DSLR camera was placed in his hands.
A birthday gift from his mother intended to give purpose to the youngster’s passion for storm chasing, he recalls feeling confused by the fact the Nikon D70 appeared to be both incredibly weighty and implausibly light.
“It was much heavier than I’d first anticipated it to be, it was almost alien to me. Very quickly though, it felt as though this was the piece of my life that I’d been missing. I finally felt complete being able to express myself through the lens.”
Now an integral part of his everyday life, his camera bag accompanies the 35-year-old everywhere he goes.
While he freely admits to experimenting with a competitor brand, Dale soon returned to the Nikon fold after discovering he was not getting the image quality, dynamic range or megapixels required from the inferior offering.
“Printing large canvases for customers or building images for magazines, billboard and marketing uses for travel companies, I need quality and gear to reflect the benchmark work I was required to provide and Nikon gave me everything I needed to achieve that,” he says.
Inspired to make the leap from hobbyist into professional in 2012 following the passing of a loved one, Dale started out in real estate photography before moving into portraiture and events.
He moved into landscape photography shortly after.
“Landscapes are ever changing whether it be from weather or seasons, or from different light from sunrise to sunset. It’s a constant challenge. What draws me to keep chasing the light is the challenge of capturing a moment in time to share… an image that evokes feeling.”
In 2013 while shooting the same sunset he met and fell in love with Western Australian born Karlie Russell and together the pair now run their own commercial photography business and tutelage studio, DK Photography in Urunga on the Gold Coast. As well as scheduling shoots and selling prints, the pair also share their skills with others by hosting both private and group photography workshops.
“Over the past five years I have been teaching photography and helping other photographers grow. I have worked hard in planning workshops abroad in places like Iceland, Norway and New Zealand and it has always been a dream of mine to take Australian photographers to these beautiful countries and to improve their photographic skills in the field. This year will be the year I finally get to achieve that goal.”
Clearly born with a unique eye, Dale admits he has “zero formal photography training” but argues there is no qualification in the world that can make up for a lack in talent.
Many of the photographers he looks up to in the world have no qualifications but “were born with a creative eye for striking compositions and powerfully creative images”, he says.
Having always been inspired by all things landscape-related, Dale remains an eager traveller and has shot at a range of diverse locations, with astrophotography and arctic light-chasing a particular favourite.
In recent years the keen amateur soccer player has covered everything from severe thunderstorms in outbreak Australia and the Milk Way in New Zealand, to exploring ice caves in Iceland and chasing aurora under Vatnajökull Glacier in Iceland but cites the latter as among the most impressive environment he has found himself in.
“On a cold and sub-freezing day, we hiked many kilometres across a glacier and abseiled into what was one of the biggest ice caves they’ve ever discovered. You could literally park two London double-decker buses on top of each other. It was so surreal being under so much ice, and while it was howling with wind and hail outside it was so calm and peaceful inside the cavern.”
As with most landscape artisans, inclement weather provides him with his greatest frustration when he has prepared, planned and executed a dream shoot and on the day the conditions change for the worse and everything goes pear-shaped. However, he says, this is soon forgotten on those occasions when he manages to achieve the one shot that makes it all worthwhile.
“It makes you forget all of those times that you have failed.”
The diversity of his offering has meant Dale has been published all around the world with the BBC, Reuters, CNBC and an array of magazines among those competing to run his images. Initially reluctant to try out social media, he now gets infinitely more gratification from sharing his work with his 103,000 Instagram followers and 43,000 Facebook fans and presenting work portfolios to corporate sponsors than he does from entering competitions or seeing his imagery in print.
“Over the years I have found social media has been an asset in getting our work out there to new and existing followers. At first, I was very hesitant with these platforms as early on I’d be influenced rather than inspired and it made it difficult to find my own creative style. Over time I realised to concentrate on my own work and my own photographic journey and worry less about what others are doing and rather what I’m producing,” he says.
“The day I stopped worrying about other photographers and concentrated more on my work, our following base grew exponentially.”
What’s in Dale’s bag:
- For years my D810 has been my go to body in my camera bag, but ever since the release of the D850 I haven’t taken a single image on my D810.
- Together with my NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, my NIKKOR AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8 G ED is essential in my backpack. When travelling abroad, the NIKKOR AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR, NIKKOR AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR are never too far from my camera either.
[Words by Tracey Porter]