I have a ‘short list’ of my favourite nature/wildlife/conservation photographers – people who’s work dazzles me and who I admire for their creativity, their dedication to the field, and their productivity. One of the names on the top of my list is Jim Brandenburg. Anyone who has followed National Geographic over the years and read their magazine will know his name. He’s had a long, productive and very impressive career with Nat Geo.
I recently began tuning into Jim’s blog and have spent hours going through his galleries, admiring his images, and taking mental notes – subject matter, angle of approach, depth of field, quality of light, and other aspects. One always wants to learn how the masters do it.
In perusing Jim’s website and blog, I came across his Chased By The Light app. It was the first I’d heard of the app version of it. Jim had originally published these images in a 1997 issue of National Geographic magazine. It was the first time National Geographic had published so many images in one feature in its entire history. So, the images aren’t new. But their presentation as an iPad app is. And it is well worth seeing!
The Chased By The Light app instantly appealed to me for two reasons. Firstly, Jim’s images have so much appeal. I really relate to his style and his motivation for image making and what it is he is trying to communicate with his images. His images are ‘brain candy’ for me; they tickle my grey matter. His images are to me, as chocolate is to a chocolate-lover. 🙂 They get those ‘feel good’ chemicals going.
The second thing that appealed to me about Jim’s Chased By The Light app is the fact that he’s developed this medium not just to showcase his images, but to provide a full photographic experience. I think I was pre-disposed to like Jim’s app because I’m a big fan of e-books and apps. But Jim’s app is nothing short of masterful! It isn’t just a collection of great images. It is truly, an experience. In it, Jim explains the goal of his 90- day, image-a-day, self assignment. He explains what motivated him to do it. And then he presents each of his 90, stunning images. For me, the icing on the cake is his presentation – the extra bits that make his app a photographic experience rather than just a collection of beautiful images. On many of his image pages, he has embedded additional information and videos. On pages that have an ‘i’ icon, you press on the icon and up pops a block of text that provides more information about the image – where and why he took it, the challenges he faced in making the image, the ‘story’ behind the image. It’s an extra little window into the world of Jim Brandenburg. But it gets even better! On pages that have a ‘v’ icon, you press on the v and up pops a video clip. It may be Jim explaining how he came to choose the subject of his image for that day or the significance that particular image has for him.
The embedded info and videos makes Jim’s app just that much more of a personal experience. You get to know something about the photographer behind the camera – what makes him tick. As Jim explains, when he first conceived the idea for the project, he didn’t plan to share it widely. It was a personal journey for himself, a challenge to bring some balance and meaning back into his life. For me, his choice of medium – the app with embedded info and videos – makes the presentation of his 90 day journey far more personal than one would get out of a coffee table book.
Is this kind of app the new coffee table book of the future? I think so. I hope so! I love books. I’ve spent a lot of money on books, over the years. And I’ve always been a fan and collector of coffee table books. But to me, this app beats a coffee table book hands down. It truly is an experience. It’s at your finger tips in bright, vibrant colours. You can look at it again and again, but you don’t have to dust it once a week or worry about spilling your coffee on it. The embedded video makes it a living book. It tweaks both your visual and auditory senses, which is what I think makes this more of an experience than a read.
Another absolute bonus is the price. You can download Jim’s Chased By The Light app from the Apple App Store for $9.99. That’s a bargain for what you get in return! His app is truly a photographic experience well worth the price. I hope we see more of this from Jim and from other great photographers.