An Interview with Laurie Excell

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We caught up with long time ON1 friend, travel and landscape photographer, and your ON1 Plus guest coach coming in September, Laurie Excell. 

Hi Laurie! Thank you so much for doing this interview, to start please tell us about yourself.

I am a wildlife and nature photographer, educator,
public speaker and book author. I got my start in photography from my dad who was a well-known photographer and instructor in Salt Lake City. From the moment I saw the results of my first roll of film — yes film— I was hooked. Looking back, I see just how awful those images were, but they were mine. I joined the camera club my parents belonged to and it wasn’t long before that I began taking home top honors. I got my first part time job in a camera store and worked in retail sales for 25 years, before venturing out into the field of photography. Over the years, I have worked with many top photographers, I was an instructor at Photoshop world for several years, and I have lead my workshops for over a decade now. I truly love every aspect of photography from getting out in the field to the making and finishing of an image. I also love sharing my passion with others, seeing the light bulb moments when someone suddenly gets a technical aspect, and the joy in the faces of my workshop attendees who capture that defining moment with a perfect exposure, sharp focus and compelling composition. I try to teach others to bring their own vision to life and to not copy what I do. So, with all that in mind, you can see why I was so excited to be invited to work with ON1 again.

In the past you created some awesome ON1 presets and frames year ago, so bring us up to speed on what have you been up to lately?

I decided to take a short break from workshops a little while ago and concentrate on some of my own projects, one of which is to travel the US in a trailer with my husband and two kitties, exploring all that our wonderful country has to offer.

I love visiting new locations and experiencing the wonder of seeing a place for the first time, as well as revisiting new locales to see how I can make different images. We have been through over twenty states on our current adventure, and I have thousands of images from our travels. I look forward to sharing some of my tips, tricks, and techniques, as well as some background info on where I have been, why I chose a certain place, the research I did before visiting, the photographic tools I use to capture my images, and how I add the finishing touches in the digital darkroom using Photoshop and ON1.

That sounds very exciting! Where was your favorite stop? Was there any particular place that surprised you or turned out to be a lot prettier than you expected?

It really has been exciting. As for my favorite location, I usually respond, “the one I am at right now.” Each and every location has its pluses. I have learned not to have too many expectations when visiting a site whether I’ve been there before or not. I find that if I arrive with pre-planned expectations, I can miss opportunities that present themselves spontaneously. I do my research and at least have some knowledge of what the area has to offer, but then I set aside my expectations and go with the flow. So many things affect a shoot: the time of day, time of year, the weather, crowds, and more. Once I arrive on location, I survey the area and then find a way to create images of the scenes that speak to me. As for surprises, I found that Niagra Falls was truly a gem amidst all the man-made, touristy ambiance surrounding it. I was half-expecting to be disappointed after reating about how built-up it was around the falls, but my husband and I played tourists, visiting all the attractions, and I created some excellent images. I also found Watkins Glen to be a stunningly beautiful location with dozens of waterfalls along a man-made pathway. Maybe it was because it made me think of Oregon with all her greenery and waterfalls, which also means that I truly loved our time spent along the east coast visiting the Outer Banks of North Carolina, St. Augustine, Florida, and the Florida Keys, where we spent a month camped a mere ten to fifteen feet from the water so we could snorkel amongst the fish. I even had an exciting but brief encounter with a shark. I loved the old world charm of Charleston and Savannah with their beautiful tree lined streets and history, and I discovered that I seem to have a pier fetish. If there was a pier to be found, I was there every morning and many evenings—working different angles, shutter speeds, and light.

One thing I find when traveling with an open mind is that I broaden my photographic horizons. I have discovered that I like making portraits of interesting people, some cityscapes can be almost as exciting as the natural landscapes I so love and meeting people from all walks of life helps me to be more tolerant of differing views. I think that the more I travel, the more I learn about myself, and the more I grow as a photographer.

Thank you Laurie! We appreciate the interview and look forward to having you coaching next month in ON1 Plus.

Absolutely! Thanks for having me, I’m exited to teach Time-lapse photography next month to the Plus community!

5 comments on “An Interview with Laurie Excell”

  1. On August 14, 2017 at 3:24 pm Steven Dempsey wrote:

    Hi Laurie, I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts on traveling. My wife and I sold everything (including our house) in August of 2014 and we have been living on the road in a motorhome ever since. Savannah was definitely a favorite and we just recently visited Niagara Falls and Watkins Glen. What a privilege it is to be traveling like this as a photographer. I look forward to your timelapse tutorials!

    1. On August 15, 2017 at 9:12 am laurie.excell@gmail.com replied:

      Hi Steven,
      That is awesome! You are in a position to really take advantage of all the wonders our country has to offer. I hope you enjoy this month’s topic and find some opportunities to do some time-lapse of your own.

  2. On August 19, 2017 at 6:30 am John Blackwood wrote:

    I am looking forward to your upcoming month as a guest coach. Perhaps you can toss in some lessons learned as a photographer living and working out of a fifth wheel. My wife and I have been talking about doing this next year if all goes well. She does not want to cut all ties but is looking to have a townhouse to return to.

    I just got a Pluto trigger (for lightning) and noticed that it has a nice intervalometer built in that I look forward to trying. I have been trying panoramas lately and this will another new photographic avenue for me to try.

    1. On August 23, 2017 at 4:53 am laurie.excell@gmail.com replied:

      Hi John,
      Maybe I can do a session on just that topic in the future. It is an interesting topic and one that I’m finding many folks are interested in. My husband also, wants a “home base”. It’s good to find the middle ground where everyone is happy.
      Stay tuned and we’ll get you out putting your new trigger to good use in addition to lightning.

  3. On August 26, 2017 at 7:43 am Bohdan wrote:

    Hi Laurie. Traveling has been a dream of mine for a long time. As a retired military (21 years) I traveled a lot. But now a days not so much, even though I still has the itch, my wife is not in the best of health. But we are not here to discuss my issues. I recently started doing time-lapse video and looking forward to learning more from your tutorials.

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