MEET OLIVIER RENCK
Olivier and I met working at Smashbox Studios many years ago. Olivier is a world-class photographer who brings his athleticism, passion and talent to every project. His evocative, human-centric work brings you to the destination!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your photography.
I grew up near Grenoble, in the French Alps. From a very young age, I was drawn to outdoor adventures. After a 17 month ski journey around the world with my best friends, I bought my first camera, a Nikon F100, 35mm film based single-lens-reflex camera (SLR). It was 1999 and I was hooked.
My inspiration has always been to document the relationship between the beauty of nature and the creativity and passion of outdoor sports athletes. It gave me a purpose to wander the world and I rarely photographed something unless I felt it was part of a story. My work has been published in National Geographic, National Geographic Adventure, National Geographic Traveler, Life, Outside Magazine, Men’s Journal.
Do you use your phone for photography when you are traveling VERY light? What are your favorite photography apps?
I do. Today, mobile phone cameras can compete with some top of the line cameras from only 15 years ago. I appreciate their ease of use and I believe they can be the perfect companion of a photo and travel aficionado.
Some of the photos I took with my iPhone on a 2009 trip to Siberia were published in a leading French photography magazine. I appreciate VSCO app for its great preset filters and editing tools and I often use Sun seeker app when I plan for a specific photo with natural light.
When you want higher resolution than your phone, what is your go-to gear when traveling?
I am a big fan of the Canon 5D MK IV, and I am planning on getting the new Canon EOS R5 which offers amazing image quality as well as the possibility to create stunning cinematic video footage.
Any favorite lens? Bags, specific tools, memory cards, hard-drives or accessories?
If I had to recommend one lens to start a still or film career, it would hands-down be a 24-70mm with wide aperture for creative control, like the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM. It’s very versatile and pushes you to really connect with your subject. As far as specific tools, the remote flash and camera trigger from PocketWizard allowed me to get some
amazing shots in the past. Memory card and hard-drives have gone a long way and they are now very reliable and efficient. Buy the best you can afford and you’ll be just fine. I personally like the SanDisk ExtremePro compact flash card and the G-Technology or LaCie Rugged portable drives.
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What type of editing software do you like to use and what do you like about it? Please explain your workflow.
For travel photography I work with Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop. Lightroom has a more basic interface in comparison to Photoshop and I use it first to focus mainly around my workflow, creating databases of my photographs and highlight, star or flag particular images. Thanks to its strong editing capabilities I can quickly adjust contrast, exposure, saturation, clarity and warmth. I then switch to Photoshop to work only on my very best images because the process is much longer as each image needs to be precisely edited individually. But the deeper control over the final look of an image guarantee stunning results every time.
Are there any specific travel photographers that inspire you?
Frederic Lagrange for its timeless style and elegance: www.fredericlagrange.com/site_v2/category/travel/
My friend Julien Capmeil embodies to me the perfect idea of a travel photographer. His pictures feel genuine, vibrant and inviting: www.juliencapmeil.com
Although he is more of a commercial photographer, I really admire Nadav Kander for his unique aesthetic and his original travel photography projects: www.nadavkander.com/works-in-series/yangtze-the-long-river/single
Where are your favorite travel destinations for your photography? Please share a favorite photo(s) from there.
One place that I really enjoyed is Rio the Jainero, which is in my opinion the best urban location in the world for outdoor sports. Within the city limit you can rock climb, Paraglide, mountain bike, surf, hike and get some amazing pictures (see photo below) while getting some amazing photographs. Destinations that I visited prior to become a photographer and that I’d like to revisit are Alaska, Japan and the magical French Island of Corsica.
Currently I’d like also to explore the surf culture in exotic locations like the Mentawai islands in Indonesia, The Philippines or Bali. I also started to work on a project with young female long boarders.
Please share anything else that your feel travel photographers may be interested in knowing. Websites that you like? Your website?
Document your travels like it’s a photo story; think about the double page opening, the portraits, the details shots, the architecture and landscape shots, the lifestyle shots. Make sure you hunt for everything but also take the first few days to feel out the place, to get intimate with the location before taking your camera out. My site: www.orenck.com
Regarding any photography gadgets that you own, are there somethings that you wish you hadn’t bought?
Are there gadgets that you love that you would recommend to others?
I’m not too much of a gadget person and over time I realized that less is more when it comes to travel photography. One thing that came in handy twice in my career was some simple kitchen plastic wrap. It literally saved my camera equipment while shooting in heavy winds in a Peruvian desert as well as in some rainy and muddy conditions in the Altai, Russia. I also recently started to capture videos with me the new GoPro Hero 8 and I’ve been quite happy with the result.
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A few more photos!
Read more about photography with the interview with photographer John Decker.