Keith Levit: Travelling and Shootin’ Great Photos

February 25, 2011, Author: Vitezslav Valka, Categories: Interview, Photographer, Showcase

I’d like to introduce Keith Levit. One of those lucky ones who does what he loves while making money by doing it. I’d like to be one of those full-time travelers later in my life. For now I politely ask you all to dive deep into Keith’s thoughts and enjoy the ending bit!

You travel A LOT Keith. What type countries do you prefer?
I prefer going to those countries which are off the radar of most tourists.  I have been calling these countries for years “far and away places”.  Some of my favorites have been Tibet, Bhutan (last October), Burma, Namibia, Ethiopia, Peru and others.

Where do you search for ideas?
Once I have decided on a country, I will search for ideas in travel books such as Frommer’s travel guides, and the Lonely Planet series. Last year I was fortunate to meet the founder of Lonely Planet, Tony Wheeler and the daughter of the founder of Frommer’s, Pauline Frommer at the 100th anniversary of Hosteling International where I was speaking and displaying my OUR WORLD exhibit which I was fortunate to have travel across Canada and the United States. Both Pauline and Tony really inspired me and my desire to continue to seek those countries less traveled.

I also do a lot of research on-line prior to traveling. In particular, I like to see what images are already  found abundantly on various stock agencies so I  can try to find something unique to photograph during my travels, or a unique way of shooting something that is already photographed by so many.

Were you in dangerous situation during the travels?
I generally avoid places that are considered unsafe places to travel. That is an important part of my research. So far I haven’t found myself in any great danger (except for looking straight down some pretty steep cliffs!)

What stock agencies inspire you?
I am totally inspired by a stock agency called PIXMAC (is this the right answer?) I actually do love what you guys are doing. The other agency that I have been involved in since its inception is “World of Stock” and I think very highly of Steve Smith and his team.

Do you prefer exclusivity or not?
I prefer non-exclusive as I feel it’s important for a photographer to reach out and to get as many distribution channels as possible to show his/her work.

Are you always taking your family with you?
My wife Linda has been an inspiration to my photography since we met 12 years ago.  Whenever possible Linda and I travel together.  My parents took my sisters and I on several adventure holidays and instilled in all of us the passion of travel, adventure and culture.  I am trying to do the same with my family (four daughters) and to take them to some pretty exciting countries again not typical destinations for kids.  For example we recently returned from a trip to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu in Peru. Last summer was Iceland,  we have been to Costa Rica, Tahiti, and Spain.  Having the kids with me creates a very different environment of travel photography but I love it.

Do you see any new opportunities in shooting photos?
There are always new opportunities in shooting photos.  The important thing is “don’t simply take photos” but rather you and others must be “taken by your photos”  That is to say put more emotion and heart into your photography.

As Henri Cartier-Bresson said in a rare interview:  ”In whatever one does, there must be a relationship between the eye and the heart, With the one eye that is closed, one looks within, with the other eye that is open, one looks without.”

I would like to end the interview with these words about Passion:

“Making photographs is as essential a part of my being as breathing or eating. It is one of the necessary functions of living. My constant desire to make photographs is actually the urge within me to capture a moment of time of my world, just as I open my eyes to give substance to my sight.

A photograph should be the expression of a photographer’s complex personality … Study the works of every great photographer and you will find every aspect of the photographer’s personality and background in his photographs. Time may change the technique of photography but it can never alter its mission…

Photography must first and foremost be loved; it must come from the heart and it must be directed to the heart. Otherwise it cannot hope to be a lasting, indestructible art.”

“Passion” – strong emotion, strong enthusiasm.

I am passionate about my photography. Ever since being handed an old camera from my dad about 30 years ago, photography has been my true passion in life. My love of adventure and travel has always been coupled to my photography. I couldn’t imagine exploring the world without my camera in tow. My camera motivates me to the higher peak, to travel greater distances. A sunrise or sunset, a landscape is so much more beautiful when my camera is by my side.

I think photography is like learning a language. At first you think so hard about every word. And then at some point those words simply become part of you and roll off your tongue. After working very hard at it, my art is now part of me. I’m finally fluent.

Vita: Thank you Keith for a nice “window to your life” it’s been a pleasure to learn about you more in this interview. I hope others will fine it inspiring and motivating as me. Good luck and thank you for the support. We’ll definitely work on Pixmac even more and even harder to make it even better :-)


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