Take Better Outdoor Photos: Tips from Tobias MacPhee


A good photo can bring back all the passion and joy of a perfect moment. The feeling of a face full of powder on a bluebird day, the victory of sending a route you’ve worked on for months, the rush of riding down a mountain road mid-fall. Tobias MacPhee (one of our OPL pros)  is a master at capturing these moments with his camera. He has shot countless professional athletes in action and his photos remind us why being outside drives us, defines us and purifies our souls. With an impressive client list that includes Patagonia, The New York Times and Climbing Magazine, we thought it wise to hit up MacPhee for some tips on how to turn ‘meh’ photos into a great ones. He also gave us the inside scoop on life as a professional outdoor photographer.


Image: MacPhee and his camera

OPL: How did your passion for photography develop?

TM: I developed a passion for photography at a very young age. I can remember looking at old black and white images and trying to imagine myself in the images and what life must have been like at that moment. Over time my curiosity developed into a
creative outlet, which eventually took over and transformed into an obsession.

OPL: You’ve taken pictures for Patagonia, Black Diamond and Climbing Magazine. What are some of the most exciting shoots you’ve ever done?

TM: My most exciting shoots usually involve the unpredictability of the mountains. I recently spent two weeks in the Bugaboo Provincial Park shooting on huge beautiful alpine granite spires. That was one of my favorite trips to date.

OPL: What are your favorite things to shoot?

TM: I love to shoot adventure/action sport athletes in their element, whether that is climbing, skiing, mountain biking; it’s the athletes that make it fun.

OPL: What are the elements of a good photograph?

TM: Vision and Light.

OPL: Do you have some tips for us on how to make an average photograph into a great one?

TM: The difference between an average photo and a great photo is often a fraction of a second. A great photo has the ability to send a message, express emotion, inspire, motivate and tell a story. A split second too early or late and you can lose that message or emotion. As a photographer you must have the vision of what you want to express and the patience to let that moment present itself.

OPL: What advice do you have for people who want to be better photographers?

TM: Photograph subjects that you’re passionate about, and above all else push the button more!

Visit MacPhee’s website: www.tobiasmacphee.com

Follow him on Facebook here. 


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