We asked ViewBug community member Mack_Photography to tell us the place where he finds his inspiration, how he got started with photography and more. Get inspired and enjoy the conversation!  "I have always wanted to learn how to use a camera properly, and the chance came when my wife bought me a DSLR for my birthday a few years ago. I would head out and photograph everything I saw, and eventually discovered the rewarding genre of Astrophotography – and never looked back."

What was your first camera and what do you shoot with today?

Canon 600D was my first DSLR and I still use it today, however my camera family has grown to 2 6D’s and a Sony a6000.

When someone looks at your photos, what do you want them to take away from it, what are you trying to communicate?

I want people to see what I see, the beauty in this world. For people to understand how awesome this world is while everyone else is sleeping.

What is it that you love about photography?

I love being able to explore, particularly around New Zealand. What is the point in living in such a beautiful country if you don’t get out and see it?

What has photography done for you?

Photography has given me a new challenge in life. To do something different from the next photographer. For me, it’s developed a new way of seeing things, even walking down the road to get the groceries, I’m always looking at things from a new angle. Second from that is the opportunity to travel, with a purpose. I’m starting to do workshops around New Zealand which is the most amazing opportunity for me, to help others to grow and achieve what they are hoping for.

Do you try to be conceptual or do you prefer to show the feeling behind a photo?

A mix of both really. A lot of my photos convey a vastness in our world, but it’s always fun mixing it up a bit and doing something completely different and conceptual.

How do you describe your style?

Hmm, that is a tricky one. I guess my style consists of raw astrophotography, a lot of natural beauty, and a touch of epic-ness.

If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?

If it were from my kit, then the Samyang 24mm ƒ1.4 lens would be the one. If not, well I would choose the Canon EF 35mm ƒ1.4 – wide enough for what I need, and close enough for other kinds of shots as well.

What are your 3 tips for others who want to become better photographers?

• Listen to others. Any feedback is good feedback; don’t take it personally. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions, there’s plenty of fellow photographers out there who are more than happy to help.
• Try new things. Just get out there and give it a go, you’ll be surprised what you can get.
• Be patient. If you have gone out and shot a scene and are not satisfied, go out another time when the light is different. Keep going there until you nail that shot, it’s the only way to learn.

Have you received negative feedback from your work? What did you do about it?

Definitely. Negative feedback is part of the journey – photography is one of the most subjective art forms out there, so expect negative feedback. But also, just because it is negative, doesn’t mean it’s true. Take the time to really step back and reflect, to see what others see in your work.

I get a lot of people claiming my work is fake and photoshoped, when it actually isn’t. When I do create a composite, I am honest about it, as the last thing I want to do is lose peoples trust in my photos.

Where did you learn to take photos?

I learnt most of what I know in and around Auckland, just getting out there and shooting. I failed and learnt from it. I started shooting cityscapes at night, doing long exposures. I then applied those skills to other areas like Astrophotography – and failed. They are almost polar opposites! Cityscapes need a narrow aperture and low ISO; Astroscapes need a wide aperture and high ISO – go figure.

Raw vs jpg and why?

Raw, I don’t think I need to rationalize this as it goes without saying!

What do you carry in your camera bag?

2 x 6Ds running Magic Lantern
Sony a6000 with remote shutter
14mm, 24mm, 85mm, 135mm and 200mm lenses
iOptron Skytracker
A green laser, because lasers are awesome!!!

If you could have the gift of a great photographer who would it be and why?

I am a huge fan of Andris Apse’s work. The patience that guy has is astonishing – some of his shots have taken months, if not years to plan. He is also a really nice guy!

What is the most common mistake you see people making when shooting these days?

Keep those horizons level, and be honest with your audience. If you have made a composite then say so, don’t try and trick people into believing it was real.

What is your dream location to shoot?

My home, New Zealand. This place never ceases to amaze me!

How do you decide on where to shoot a photo?

A lot of the time it comes down to the coastline on a map, and where I am at the time. I use ‘The Photographers Ephimeris’ and ‘GoSkyWatch’ to plan my shoots. Once I have an idea of what I want to shoot, I check it out on a map, then when I get the chance, I visit the location during the day to scope it out. Most of the time I don’t have the time for that luxury, just arrive at night time and hope to find a great spot to shoot.

What is next for you? Any planned adventures with your camera?

2016 is the year of teaching for me. I am working with Rina Sjardin-Thompson running photography workshops here in New Zealand - From Wanaka to the West Coast and beyond. Taking people to places hardly anyone has been to and show them how to capture the scene.

What is your goal with your photography?

To help inspire others to be the best they can be. To travel to more beautiful and remote places, and to capture what I see.