500px Spotlight with Dom Piat

Photo Stories

At 500px amazing photography is at our core, but these photos would not be possible without the talented people behind the lens. The 500px Spotlight series highlights the global and diverse photographers that are part of the 500px Community.

This week we are excited to introduce you to nature photographer Dom Piat. Enjoy the interview!

Your Richmond Park project captures deer in their natural habitat in a dreamlike way. Can you share more about this series and what inspired it?

I actually started this series by accident. I live in London, and I like to go on long walks in Richmond Park at sunrise to escape the madness of the city whenever I can. One day I had the camera with me, and once I got my first image of a deer silhouette in the mist, I thought it might be fun to do a whole moody series on them. ‘Bad’ weather is often a great way to give your images a strong mood, and misty mornings are always magical. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to go to the park last winter when it was snowing, as I would love to get a shot of the deer in the snow at some point.

I now have a little deer obsession, but generally I find wildlife photography exciting because it’s completely unpredictable and you have to work hard, be really patient, and a little lucky to get good images.

Ghost by Dom Piat on 500px.com

What is your technique for working with wildlife, and what equipment do you use?

Since I often need to cover a lot of ground before I find any wildlife, I like to shoot with a handheld to be lighter and more compact. It’s also a lot easier to get more angles and react quickly. Once I find a subject, I usually take my time, lying on the ground for a while to get some low angles, and trying to find an interesting composition.

When I started, I used a longer focal length, but I’m now mostly shooting with a 200mm or an 85mm. People generally use a longer focal length for wildlife (and often you have to), but I like to include a little bit of the environment in my images, if I can, for context, and these focal lengths work for me. I’m also using a high-resolution camera, which is great for wildlife. It allows me to crop-in my images a lot if I need to find a better composition in post.

Alpha by Dom Piat on 500px.com

Your Feels Like Summer series has a very different narrative to your wildlife work. How do you approach the process of shooting people?

One of the most important things for me is to capture images that feel authentic, and that’s probably why I enjoy travel, street, and wildlife photography the most, as my subjects are not posing for me.

The photos in the Feels Like Summer series are just candid street/travel moments, but I’ve always tried to find interesting compositions, simplifying my images to give them a minimal aesthetic. I’ve only got a few photos so far, but I hope to add more to the series in the future.

Le Grand Bleu by Dom Piat on 500px.com

What do you consider to be the most important elements when framing a shot? Do you believe in the decisive moment?

I like my images to have well-balanced compositions, often making use of negative space to draw the viewer’s eye to the subject, and generally simplifying for clarity. And then, of course, there’s a decisive moment in any scene that’s unfolding. Observation and anticipation are key. Shooting with a high burst mode will also give you more chances to capture the perfect frame for a fast-moving subject.

Venice Skate Park by Dom Piat on 500px.com

How did you stay motivated with your practice when London experienced such strict lockdowns?

When London experienced strict lockdowns my work suddenly dried out, but this gave me the opportunity to finally go through the archive, and revisit some of my old personal photography. And, even though we were really restricted, I’ve also tried to keep practicing.

I couldn’t go far from my flat, so I’ve mainly been trying to photograph birds for fun in my tiny local park. I found it really hard (they move a lot faster than deer), but I ended up with a few images I was happy with.

Another thing I’ve been doing quite a lot during the lockdown is browsing 500px on a regular basis. There are so many incredible photographers on here, and in many different genres. It was always a great source of inspiration while waiting for better days.

Little robin by Dom Piat on 500px.com

Resource hub

Do you have a favorite image on your 500px Profile? If so, which one and why?

There are a lot of wildlife images I really like, but I’m going to pick the photo of the old man with his cool jacket on the beach, feeding the seagulls. It’s not the most striking photo but it was a really nice moment. I like the composition with all the birds filling the frame nicely above him. It was also just a quick shot, and I didn’t expect much of it. I like that it reminds me that there’s always an interesting image around the corner.

Feeding the birds by Dom Piat on 500px.com

What advice would you give to someone creating who is nervous to showcase their work?

I would say not to worry at all. You will never please everyone with your photography, but if you like your photos, there’s a big chance others will. And, like for a lot of things in life, I think the ‘fail often, fail fast’ approach is good advice here. The sooner you showcase your work, the sooner you’ll get some feedback, iterate, and improve.

Murmuration by Dom Piat on 500px.com

Are there any projects you are working on that you would like to share with the 500px community?

I’m mainly shooting wildlife and nature nowadays, but I’d love to do a black and white street photography series at some point. I usually work in color, but I like the added layer of simplification that black and white photography brings. I’ve got one shot that I’m happy with so far, so it’s a start.

Balloon wig  ? by Dom Piat on 500px.com

Check out past 500px Spotlights:
Teddy Tavan
Ash Camas
Aleksandra Lemke
Priscilla Ong

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