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This week we turned our #DigitLabSpotlight on a man who by day is a mild-mannered web developer, but out of the hours of 9am – 3pm (not a bad workday), will be found out in the wilderness of landscape photography.

If 4am is too early for you to catch him and his camera in real life, then you can always delve into the products of his talent on his Instagram. And of course, find him right here in his spotlight.

Shawn Ogulu
Image by Louw Lemmer

1. What first drew you to photography?

Well I got into photography because of Instagram. It’s a bit like the story of the chicken and the egg, I’m not sure which came first?

Shawn Ogulu cityscape Instagram

2. Tell us the story behind the first picture you ever put up on Instagram?

The first picture I put on Instagram actually wasn’t my own as I had no idea what Instagram was at the time. I was out at an event when a girl I just met asked if she could download an app on my phone because back then you could only get Instagram on iPhones. She downloaded the app and posted a photo of someone’s feet and that’s how I got Instagram. (I didn’t actually start using it till much later)

 

3. What do you typically use to take your Instagram pictures – phone or camera? And why?

Just like everyone else, I started off shooting with my iPhone and was completely satisfied with that, until I went to America for a month and came back to find that the photos I took didn’t come close to capturing what I had actually seen. That’s when I picked up a camera, and I haven’t looked back since. I currently shoot all my photos on my Canon 6D, and my go to lens is my Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 lens – a Landscape photographer’s best friend!

Shawn City
Image by @tim_batch

4. Take us through your average day?

My average day goes like this:
I wake up ridiculously early (3:30am in the summer, 5:30am in the winter)
Find a spot to photograph the sunrise.
Head back home to get ready for work.
Work from 9 to 3.
Head home and if I didn’t shoot the sunrise then I’m probably shooting the sunset.
Hangout with friends/watch series/edit photo ‘til about midnight.
Wake up and do it again (I have insomnia so I don’t get much sleep)

 

5. What do you use to edit your photos? And do you edit all your photos?

Yes, I edit all my photos. For me it’s very much part of the process of taking a photo; the way I decide to capture a scene is based on how I intend to edit it. This is because your eyes have the ability to dynamically combine highlights and shadows, which lets us see a perfectly-balanced finished image. A camera has a sensor that can only adjust for either highlights or shadows, but not both simultaneously. I edit all my photos in Lightroom. If they are for Instagram, I transfer them to my phone where I edit them further with apps like Snapseed and VSCO before posting.

 

6. What’s the most unlikely place you’ve found inspiration?

The beach. Before I started taking photos you would never find me on the beach, because I didn’t like the large crowds and couldn’t stand the wind blowing sand in my face. Now I’m there all the time, about 60% of my photos are taken on the beach.

Shawn Ogulu Landscape photography

7. What is it about landscape photography that really drew you in?

I love the solitude it brings. There’s something incredibly calming about being alone with an amazing view of a beautiful landscape.

 

8. What’s the most exciting door that’s been opened for you since becoming an Instagrammer?

Oh boy, there have been a lot! But the most exciting one is being connected to an amazing network of the most creative people in the country and the world, people who inspire me every day with their unique perspectives.

Shawn Ogulu landscape lake

9. Other than Instagram, which social platform do you really enjoy and why?

Not Twitter haha. Facebook is the only other social platform I use, mostly to connect with friends and see what exciting things are going on in their lives.

 

10. What’s next for you?

There are a couple of things coming up. First is the national instameet that’s taking place in Graaff-Reinet on the 24-27th of September. It’s the first of its kind, an idea a group of us had almost a year ago and I’m so stoked it’s finally happening as I got to help organize it.

Secondly, in just over a month, myself and two friends Ett Venter and Ofentse Mwase will be leaving SA and heading on an adventure to Iceland, which is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful countries in the world. For just under two weeks, we’ll be driving around the entire country, walking on volcanoes, glaciers and taking photos of course!

 

Thanks Shawn!

Who kind of wants his life right now? Feed that envy with the rest of our #DigitLabSpotlight interviews, or drop us a mail nominating yourself for a spotlight.

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