Debunking myths on genetics and DNA

Monday, April 7, 2014

Priceless advice from award winning photographer Laurie Rubin: "Photograph from your heart, not your head. It will show in your images."

A picture is worth a thousand words, and that's why instead of telling you how excited I am about my guest today, I'm going to show you through a sample of her work.

A Little Tenderness © Laurie Rubin

Run For It © Laurie Rubin

The Dreamer © Laurie Rubin

Award-winning photographer Laurie Rubin captures wildlife like no other: just look at the tenderness between the flamingo mom and her chick -- it's priceless! The image placed first in the "Best of Nature" award, while the following tender moment between a mother gorilla and her baby:

Read to your kids © Laurie Rubin

was the 1st Place Category Winner for the Windland Smith Rich International Award and is currently displayed at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

EEG: Congratulations Laurie, it's such a great honor to have you here on CHIMERAS today!

Tell us a bit about your background and how you discovered photography as your passion: if I'm not mistaken, you started as a computer artist, correct?

LAR: I started right out of college after graduating from San Diego State with an emphasis in Graphic Design as a Computer Artist, creating presentation graphics and training for large companies in San Diego at Crystal Image Productions. I've been in the software industry my entire career and have worked at companies such as Aldus/Adobe on the team for Gallery Effects, and Gryphon Software the makers of Morph Software and edutainment software for Disney, Warner Brothers and HBO. I worked at Nik Software for almost 8 years as the Education Project Manager, helping photographers and enthusiasts learn how to make beautiful images during the post-processing phase. Nik Software was acquired by Google a couple years ago and I was one of a handful of people from the San Diego office that was relocated in Mountain View to work with the Google+ Photos Team.

My photography "A-ha!" moment happened on the first day I started working at Nik Software, when Product Manager, Josh Haftel, opened the consignment closet and showed me all the Nikon cameras and lenses I could borrow. He took out the Nikon D2H and put a 24-70mm lens on it. When I looked through the viewfinder, I knew that was what I wanted my world to look like. I've never been the same since!

EEG: Since you worked for Nik Software -- what's your take on post-processing images?

LAR: I have a saying... "Photography is art - whether it is realistic or artistic, it is your vision, what you saw at that moment. You can choose to leave it as is, or enhance it to bring out the feeling of the moment. The choice is yours." - Laurie Rubin

I believe that we should always strive to get-it-right out of the camera the first time, but more times then not, enhancing an image during post-processing will bring out the details and help to recreate what you felt at the moment of capture. By adding a bit of structure, a slight vignette, and a touch of adjustments, that can help to bring out the best in your images. It helps to create your unique look and style and to connect with your viewers. Everyone of my images, I have enhanced, wether it is to reduce noise, add a creative effect or perhaps a bit of selective sharpening.

EEG: I couldn't agree more! Tell us about "Read to your kids," the image that won the Windland Smith Rich International Award and is currently displayed at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

LAR: This was a once in a lifetime shot! I just happened to photograph the baby gorilla’s mom holding a magazine as she stopped to look at a photo of her baby (sitting next to her). This was one of the enrichment items that the zookeepers put in their enclosure. I visited the gorillas almost every weekend and each time, there was a new behavior, the light was different, or they had new items to play with. It does take patience, but if you go as soon as the doors open, the animals are most active and you can avoid the crowds.

EEG: All of your work is amazing, but what I love the most are your wildlife images: you are able to capture the most intimate and spontaneous moments between animals, as if you weren't even there, probing with your lens. How do you achieve that, other than, like you said, having a lot of patience?

LAR: Thank you! Yes, photographing animals takes a LOT of patience! But I am often richly rewarded by spending that extra quiet time with them, waiting for a particular behavior and direct eye contact. I don't try to get their attention, but I stay with them and watch and learn. Often times, when I am going out to photograph a particular animal, something else appears before my lens that was totally unexpected. I love it when that happens! I am all about capturing moments and being able to share those with others. There is a connection with animals that I get when I take the time to just "be" in the their presence.

EEG: What suggestions/recommendations do you have to anyone getting started in photography? What about for those who want to branch out into wildlife photography in particular?

LAR: My best advice is to pick up a camera, whatever you have and go out and take pictures. The old saying "Practice Makes Perfect" applies to all genres of photography. You're not going to get better by not making this a consistent exercise in actually making mistakes to find out what works for you. Follow and learn from photographers whose work you admire. We have so many amazing photographers, offering workshops and training online. I've been blessed to have known, learned and photographed alongside some of the best photographers in the world.

Discover what your passion is... and if it is wildlife, make it your mission to get out among the animals with your camera. Watch and learn their behaviors and take a LOT of photos. Share your photos online to see what people like. This helps to take away your personal emotional ties to some of your images. For example, we might like one of our images because we were somewhere special, or it reminds us of who we were with. Try entering some contests, or get published in a magazine or book or get your prints in a gallery.

Most of all... have fun, be in the moment and photograph from your heart, not your head. It will show in your images.

EEG: It certainly shows in your images, Laurie! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today and mostly, thank you for sharing the beauty you capture with your lens.

Find more gorgeous images by Laurie on her website, on G+ and on Facebook.


  1. Thank you Elena for sharing my story and passion about photography :-)


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