In this month’s Featured Photographer, we hear from climber and photographer, John Dickey. John’s photos capture the essence of why we love climbing: for the intimate, raw moments it provides, for the connection it gives us to nature and other people, and of course, for the beautiful places it takes us.
How did you get into photography? Did climbing or photography come first?
My father introduced me to photography when I was 4. My parents were simply entertained by my taking of photos and I fell in love with the camera and photographs at a very early age. Photography and exploration developed together. My parents moved from Indiana to northern Italy when I was 14 months and returned to the states when I was 6.
During those years my parents traveled Europe extensively, taking the family to the mediterranean and the Alps. Photography and exploration were embedded as key elements of my identity.
What do you hope to portray or inspire with your photos?
The purpose of my work is to instigate others to consider the world outside of themselves and maybe even take a taste. The more we understand the world we live in and the people we share it with the better off we all are.
Describe one of your proudest moments in photography.
There is a photo in my portfolio of a man cleaning fish, it’s a bloody mess. That image represents the execution of a specific skill in photography. The ability to share a space with someone in a way that they allow you as an outsider to be there and not react to you and your camera.
The way you carry yourself and interact with your subjects is one of the most important skills in the craft of photography. Getting that image was a great realization that I was capable of a skill level that I had previously found to be out of reach.
What do you think sets you apart from other outdoor photographers?
Intimacy. It is far easier to reproduce moments and photograph them than to capture them as they occur. Each style has its benefits. When you reproduce an image you have almost infinite control over lighting and composition. That is why it is so much more common.
Capturing moments as they occur is far more difficult and you get far less material; however, you get people’s raw emotion, you get their true human experience, and that is what I want to bring home to an audience. Saturated perfect lighting is amazing but the look of fear or digging deep is what attracts my eye more.
What about photography do you love most?
I love it when an audience can feel an image. I love that photography can capture a moment that the world would not get to experience otherwise.