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John Rathwell Archives - JOBY Blog

Connecting With Sero: Blog #1 – 2 Years, 1 Van

By | Connecting with Sero | One Comment

Just over a year ago an event happened that forever changed my life. An event that planted a seed. I decided to put my commercial photography career on hold to take on a massive personal project. That project is called Searching For Sero

Not long after the seed was planted for Searching For Sero, the ultimate adventure-mobile was purchased. A 1991 VW Westfalia Camper. Photo Tracy Guenard/Searching For Sero

Not long after the seed was planted for Searching For Sero, the ultimate adventure-mobile was purchased. A 1991 VW Westfalia Camper. Photo: Tracy Guenard/Searching For Sero

First off, let’s clear up what Sero is. Some of you chemistry nerds may have already figured it out. It is short for serotonin, the neurotransmitter commonly believed to contribute to the feelings of happiness in humans. Many anti-depressant medications attempt to mimic or boost serotonin levels.

Some events happen in your life that make you sit down and re-evaluate. Always pursue what you want. Photo Tracy Guenard/Searching For Sero

Some events happen in your life that make you sit down and re-evaluate. Always pursue what you want. Photo: Tracy Guenard/Searching For Sero

My partner, Tracy Guenard, my dog, Rain, and I are hitting the road for 2 years of amazing stories, adventures and photographs from all around North America, living out of our ’91 VW Westfalia. Each week (starting mid May, 2016) we will be publishing photo stories on our website of those who use outdoor adventure to bring happiness and well-being to their lives. We will be documenting their Sero search. Here on the Joby Blog, you will be able to follow along and get an in-depth and behind the scenes look into the photographic side of things. After all you are probably here because you have an interest in photography, and I am writing here because I do too.

Tracy, Rain (dog), and John take a moment to celebrate the purchase of their new Westfalia and big start to a new journey. Photo: John Rathwell/Searching For Sero

Tracy, Rain (dog), and John take a moment to celebrate the purchase of their new Westfalia and big start to a new journey. Photo: John Rathwell

My passion for photography started in 2008 on the banks of the Slave River, Northwest Territories when a friend, pro kayaker Leif Anderson, put a DSLR in my hands for the first time. Not long after leaving the Slave River, I found myself searching local classified for used cameras and picked up a Canon 50D. From that moment, photography took over my life. I spent every moment researching, reading and watching online tutorials to help boost my skills. Not long after, my images started to appear in different kayaking magazines and some outdoor company catalogs. Photography soon became my “career” before I really knew it. If you want to know more about that, or check out my portfolio, you can find it at www.johnrathwell.com.

After hiking to the top of Camp Fortune, John unpacks his camera bag to prepare for the shoot. Photo Tracy Guenard/Searching For Sero

After hiking to the top of Camp Fortune, I unpack my camera bag to prepare for the shoot. Photo: Tracy Guenard/Searching For Sero

In the past couple of years I have focused heavily on my career, working for clients such as Red Bull, Outside Magazine as well as several tourism and marketing agencies. Now that is all being put on hold for Searching For Sero.

Dane Jackson at Michoacan Kayak Expedition, in Tlapacoyan, VE, MEX,

Dane Jackson during the Michoacan Kayak Expedition, in Tlapacoyan, VE, MEX. Image captured by John Rathwell while on assignment for Red Bull.

As photographers, we are all artists. Art with a purpose has always fascinated me the most, whether it is a political folk song or Sarah Hatton’s Bee Works. I never felt like my art, my photography, had much of a purpose except to provide. Until now.

Going where no one else is, is the best. We skinned up a hill and took some ski shots one evening with the Lowepro Whistle 350.

Going where no one else is, is the best. We skinned up a hill and took some ski shots one evening. My preferred bag is the Lowepro Whistle 350. Photo: Tracy Guenard/Searching For Sero

Each month I will be coming to you with photography chat and tips from the road in hopes to not only help you progress your photography, but to motivate you to get out and shoot images that you love. Images that make you happy. Please don’t be strangers, if you ever have questions for me, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. I will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible. Maybe you will even spur the next blog topic!

I love to photograph sports. I love to do sports. Sometimes I even photograph myself doing sports. Want to know what I used to capture this image? Check out the photo below!

I love to photograph sports. I love to do sports. Sometimes I even photograph myself doing sports. Want to know what I used to capture this image? Check out the photo below!

For the shot above, I used a GoPro on Time Lapse mode, attached to the Joby Action Grip + Pole. One of my go to GoPro accessories!

For the shot above, I used a GoPro on Time Lapse mode, attached to the Joby Action Grip + Pole. One of my go to GoPro accessories!

Oh yeah, the event I was talking about earlier. That was my father’s suicide. At the end of the project we will be creating a photo book and proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to charities working in suicide prevention.

Cheers,

John Rathwell
#FoundSero

PS: If you wish to follow the project, check us out on Instagram – @searchingforsero, Facebook, Snapchat – @searching4sero or find us on any other of your preferred platforms. We are pretty much on everything!

Up Next: Down sizing my photography equipment for life on the road (and no, I don’t mean going mirrorless).

Adventure always awaits. John Rathwell captures a self portrait while out surfing icy waters. Captured with GoPro on Joby Action Grip.

Adventure always awaits. John Rathwell captures a self portrait while out surfing icy waters. Captured with GoPro on Joby Action Grip.

Pro Spotlight – John Rathwell

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John-Rathwell-Top

JOBY Pro Spotlight | 13 Questions for a Pro Photographer | John Rathwell

This month we’re featuring John Rathwell an action adventure photographer from Ontario. John consistently produces some amazing images. We’re fans of his work here at JOBY but also have grown to love the positive attitude John has. He’s a top level photographer who humbly calls himself a “pro button pusher”. At JOBY we’re proud to have John as an Advocate.

 

John Rathwell  |  Age: 27  |  Ottawa Ontario

Website: JohnRathwell.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JohnRathwell (John Rathwell Photography)

Instagram: www.instagram.com/JohnRathwell (@JohnRathwell)

Twitter: www.twitter.com/JohnRathwell (@JohnRathwell)

 

What type of professional photographer are you?

I like to consider myself as more of a professional button pusher than photographer, but to answer your question, I shoot action and adventure sports for commercial and editorial use.

 

Your Gear – What do you use regularly?

I use a variety of gear depending on the shoot but my go to is; Canon 5D mk III, Canon 8-15mm, 16-35mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm. Lately I have also been using primes like the 50mm and 135mm a lot more. In terms of accessories I typically carry LumoPro Flashes, Pocket Wizard Plus III’s, GorillaPod Focus and ND filters. I love ND filters!

John-Rathwell-Gear

 

What would be your dream photography job?

Any job that keeps me traveling to beautiful places and working with amazing people and athletes. It doesn’t get much better than that! My bags are already packed…where in the World should we go?

 

Why did you become a professional photographer and when did you know you wanted to be one?

To be honest, I became a professional photographer by accident. I was kayaking full time when a chronic shoulder injury put me on the sidelines. I found myself in a situation where I was sitting on the banks of some of the greatest rivers in the world with the top paddlers in front of me. I had the thought “Gee…someone should take photos of this” and it all began. From that time on (about 2009) I have slowly grown and expanded my photography business to a place it sustains a living for me. I don’t believe I ever woke up one morning and said “today is the day I am going to be a professional photographer”. It just kind of happened…and I hope it keeps happening!

 

Did you study photography?

I did not go through a traditional college photography course. That being said, I did put my time in reading books, watching tutorials and learning off of local photographers that inspired me. I also spent a lot of time just shooting, editing and learning by trial and error.  Side note: The book the stands out the most to me, in terms of teaching crux skills for my career is Syl Arena’s Speedliters Handbook (I still have it…and if you want to learn to light you should get it to).

John-Rathwell-Shot1

 

Do you carry a camera with you daily when not working?

Don’t we all these days (holds up phone)? I pretty much always have my iPhone on me, which for most situations on the fly, can capture the shot I am after…even if I have to work it a little more (but thats all part of the fun). I recently started carrying the Canon G1 X mk II around with me in certain situations, which has has been fun. I have been known to through a GoPro in my pocket as well when going on adventures with friends as a quick and easy way to shoot photos.

 

When you’re not shooting photos – you are?

Any of my friends can tell you, that at any moment I can be torn off the path we are headed down to start working any sort of photo that I think might have potential. Kind of like a dog and squirrel situations you could say. When we are on road trips, everyone knows if I am in the car it is going to take longer than average! Actually, I try to drive as much as possible so I can choose to pull over, as my friends have started ignoring me when I ask if we can stop for a photo.

 

If you couldn’t be a professional photographer you would be a?

Good question. I would be doing something else that I love and that makes me happy. My theory has never been to do a specific job because it pays well. It has always been to simply just be happy. So whatever it is, I can bet it will be doing something outside.

John-Rathwell-Shot2

 

Have you ever dropped a lens? – Come on be honest!

A lens? As in just one? I wish I had a short answer for this question…but unfortunately I have dropped a lot of gear. To keep it down to my 2 scariest stories, last fall I was shooting sea kayaking on the rugged shores of northern Nova Scotia. I had climbed high onto a rocky shore line and   went to grab my camera to start shooting when the body came of the lens. The body dropped and tumbled off the edge of the rock and feel about 20 feet. After that it continued to tumble down the sloped rock towards the sea about another 40 feet. It stopped right before it hit the water. Luckily the camera still works great. I also had my entire bag fall off a rock and end up in the river once. I had to jump in in my clothes to fetch it out of the cold spring water. I ended up loosing one flash which is pretty lucky considering that my entire kit was in the bag at the time. When it comes down to it, gear is a tool to get the job done. I do my best to protect and take care of it, but in the end its about getting the shot, not making sure my gear stays in mint condition for ever.

 

If you could only have only one lens for a year what would it be?

My 24-70 is my workhorse, go to lens and has been for awhile. I think that catches a lot of people off guard, as sports photographers always go to their trusty old 70-200. I prefer showing more of the environment the athlete is in and is trying to conquer, which is why I prefer the wider lenses.

 

Name a famous person living or dead whose photo you would wish you could take.

There are several amazing action sports athletes on my list, past and present that I would love to work with, but I am actually going to say my father, who passed away last summer. As a photographer, it is sometimes hard to make the time to create a really good portrait of someone in your family, but it is something that is very much worth doing.

Dane Jackson - Action

 

The next piece of gear you’re going to buy is?

I have been eyeing up the 24mm tilt shift lens or the new Canon 100-400mm. I try not to focus on all the fancy stuff to much though. I find to be at your creative peak you need to have a few restrictions, which is why I think I have been loving the use of primes lately.

 

And finally what is the one thing you wish a professional photographer had told you before you became a professional photographer?

I feel like for myself, I misunderstand the need to always be learning. When I started getting into it I tried to learn all these techniques and thought “once I know all these things, every photo will be amazing”, but the fact is you always need to learn and push yourself. Photography gets boring if you keep making the same photos and using the same techniques. I have discovered that my “personal photography” has become experimental in terms of trying to do something new or different then mastering it. Once I master it, I bring that technique to my professional work.

 

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