Brand Knew Me
EXPAT LIFE,  MSW INTERVIEWS

MSW Interviews: Photographer Kyle Merriman

Brand Knew Me

Canadian photographer and web designer Kyle Merriman has called Taiwan home for the past five years.

Kyle is probably best known in Asian photography circles for his talents in HDR photography, but a quick glance at his professional portfolio reveals a visual treasure trove of delights of every photographic genre. Kyle’s skill at transforming the day-t0day images of life that we tend to take for granted are immediately apparent in every one of his thought-provoking images.

View more of Kyle’s work on his web site, Brand Knew Me or Flickr photostream. His collection of photographic works can also be viewed at Stock 20 Warehouse in Taichung City until July 4, 2010.

bathroom by Kyle Merriman

MSW: What got you interested in photography?

KM: Over the years I’ve owned a countless number of point and shoot cameras, and was always tinkering with my photos, but back home in Canada, I never really felt I had anything to shoot where I lived. So I never took my photography seriously. It was more just to share my experiences with family and friends.

In Asia, however, there is always something to shoot that is different from what I grew up seeing. So I decided to buy a D90.

I’ve always been fascinated with gadgets in general. I’m always the first person to jump into the settings menu and see what’s going on with any given device. The thing with photography is that you can never reach stalemate.

You are constantly learning new things, and there is always so much more to learn. I try to get out and shoot everyday, and I’m still really engaged in it. It’s a great hobby to have, as either an amateur or professional. You can shoot for decades and still improve.

MSW: What are you shooting with? Favorite gear?

KM: I’m currently still shooting with my D90. It’s a great camera. As for glass, I tend to use my 35mm a lot as well as my 18-105mm. I’m hoping to upgrade my camera body to the D700, but I might wait to see what Nikon brings out next in that range. Then hopefully my 50mm 1.4 will get some more use. It’s not happy with me right now.

MSW: For me, what really stands out about your work how well you process your images. Can you tell us a little about the process?

KM: I’m probably reaching my actuation limit soon because I shoot almost all of my landscape photos bracketed with 3 RAW exposures for HDR (High Dynamic Range).

I have to blame Trey Ratcliff over at StuckinCustoms for that. Maybe he’ll help me pay for the new D700 when my D90 dies.

HDR photography kickstarted me into taking photography more seriously. I loved the end result of having that dynamic range, because you’re never really sure what you’re going to get. It gives you so much more flexibility to make creative images.

Another big part of my workflow is Adobe Lightroom. I’ve made the switch from Aperture, and back to Lightroom a few times, but I’ve safely nestled myself back into Lightroom. It’s the tool that works best for me.
Taj Mahal by Kyle Merriman

MSW: What genre of photography are you most interested in? Which genre would you like to spend more time exploring?

KM: I don’t like to pigeon hole myself because I feel it almost does me a disservice, but I think I shoot landscape the most.

Recently, I’ve been trying to delve into portraiture more but in the end I really just love photographing people, places and cultures.

india by Kyle Merriman

MSW: What’s the number one piece of advice you would offer to beginning photographers?

KM: Spend time looking at photos, and think hard about how other photos have been created. Go out and try to imitate what you have seen techincally, learn new techniques and become familiar with it. Treat it almost as exercise.

Nosey

MSW: What is one piece of gear that you think every photographer should have?

KM: For me, it’s a decent camera bag. Buy something that gives you easy access to your gear so that you can get your camera out quickly and get great shots, especially when changing lenses in the field.

MSW: What are your favorite photography sites?

KM: I like to listen to a lot of photography podcasts like TWIP (This Week in Photography) and PhotoFocus.

Alltop.com/photgraphy is a great site that aggregates all the best photography sites into one page.

Other than those I try to keep all my favorite photographers sites in my Google Reader and stay up to date.

MSW: Are you working on any special projects at the moment. I know you’ve hosted a photography exhibit recently. Can you tell us a little about it?

KM: This month from Sunday, June 13th until July 4th, I am showcasing my work at the Stock 20 Warehouse in Taichung City. I was fortunate to have Jon Renzella, an incredible wood carving artist, see my work and offer me space in his studio. He chooses a different artist every month and dedicates the front of his studio to them.

A friend of mine, Ryan Harrington had it for the month of April, and another friend of mine Johan Vosloo will have for the month of August. It’s a great place with lots of foot traffic, and an incredible opportunity to get your work out there to a whole new audience.

big buddha by kyle merriman

MSW: Do you have a favorite photograph?

KM: It’s so difficult for me to have a favorite photograph. It’s like choosing which offspring is your favorite.

They all mean different things to me. A lot of my photos portray a different memory or feeling, which is one of the reasons I love photography.

I can look back at older photographs almost feel how I felt being there. Most of my favorites are from when I was on vacation somewhere.

I guess if I had to choose it’d be any of the photographs from the header of my site BrandKnewMe.com.

The boy trying to sell me a bird for a dollar in Laos, Ha Long Bay or the Cow photo seem to be favorites amongst people who have bought my prints.

I'm a chronically ill Canadian who has been living in Taiwan since 2006. I'm a bit of a jack of all trades! I love art, gardening, flower arranging, reading (that's an understatement if you've seen my GoodReads profile), and snuggling with my cats. Animal videos make me cry. I hate cooking. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my garden bloom! Learning about new cultures and exploring the world has been my thing since I started traveling at age 19. A self-professed autodidact, I can speak comfortably on many different subjects and hold a special place in my heart for science, technology, law, health and medicine, and history. You can find me nerding out at home most of the time due to being chronically ill and housebound. If I'm not engaged in one of the activities listed above, I'm probably building websites. Check my About page under Carrie Kellenberger to learn why I'm taking you on this journey with me through My Several Worlds. I can't wait to get to know you better!

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