What turns you on creatively?
Being dropped “behind the lines” in a foreign culture to try to understand and interpret it through photography. I find both the differences between cultures and the points of intersection to make for fascinating subject matter.
What turns you off creatively?
Shooting “by committee”—that is, with art directors, product managers, etc., looking over my shoulder. I prefer to work by myself or with just a guide or a fixer in a foreign country.
What’s your dream photo assignment?
Getting three or four months to do a coffee-table book about a beautiful region of the world. It’s happened to me once, doing Tuscany, Italy, with Frances Mayes, the famous author. I’m hoping it happens again.
If you could have dinner with an artist from any era, who would it be?
William Shakespeare. He’s not known for his visuals, but the beautiful language, the amazing scope of his plays, from tragedy to history to comedy, his sonnets—it’s unbelievable for one person to be that prolific and profound.
What’s your favorite photograph not taken by you?
Most of my favorite photographs aren’t taken by me! It’s hard to point to one specific photograph, but I love Burton Holmes’ body of work. He was the original travel photographer working in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
What profession other than photographer would you like to attempt?
A writer for The Simpsons. Those guys are the sharpest, funniest satirists around.
What’s your favorite camera feature?
I’m always on the go, so I need my camera to perform is some key areas: snappy autofocus, a big, bright viewfinder and LCD, a top-notch sensor and a rugged build to put up with heavy-duty travel work. The D300 hits a bull’s eye on all of these features. The AF system is fast and completely accurate, the new LCD is the biggest, brightest and best I’ve seen, the 12.3-megapixel sensor gives me plenty of resolution, and the body is rock-solid.
What’s your favorite Nikon product, and how does it help you create better pictures or help you compete as a professional photographer?
The D300. It has everything I need, and nothing I don’t, in a compact and rugged package. The files from this camera are fantastic, and it’s a dream to handle in the field. The high ISO performance is superb and it doesn’t weigh a ton or cost a mint. This camera allows me to make top-notch pictures without weighing as much as a small car—an important consideration to someone who spends six months a year on the road! As a travel photographer, I’m always moving fast, and I often don’t have the luxury of having the camera planted firmly on a tripod. The ability to boost the ISO to 3200 and beyond gives me a lot of handheld flexibility, even in fading light.