In Discussion with Cooper Franklin

In Discussion with Cooper Franklin

What sparked your passion for waterfall and creek photography, in particular?

Before I knew anything about photography, I’d always had a love for the Pacific Northwest, without ever being there. I remember as a kid, I was probably around 5 or 6 and my oldest sister was making some project thing for bible school at our church and she had cut out some photos from my dads old National Geographic magazines and pasted them to construction paper that she had fashioned into a photo book., and I remember this one photo of the most vibrant and lush green landscape I’d ever seen compared to what I had grown up with in southern Arkansas, and there was water cascading over these very mossy green rocks and I just remember feeling very calm and peaceful looking at it, and the caption of the photo said Olympic National Park, Washington. Since then I had been in love with that kind of landscape, but at that time I had no idea I’d ever be able to take pictures of it. At that point in my life it was only fantasy, now it’s reality.

How is living and shooting in Oregon unique?

I’ve lived in Oregon off and on for 12 years, but only in the last 5 years have I really become serious about my photography, and to me, Oregon is one of the most versatile states I’ve ever lived in. Not only does Oregon have one of the most beautiful, if not THE most beautiful coastline in the United States, it’s got high desert, lush rainforests, mountains, and waterfalls for days! I will never tire of the waterfalls and coastal sunrises and sunsets here.

To what extent are long exposure techniques a hallmark of your personal style?

They’re pretty much key to all of my photography. I love anything with movement, be it flowing water or crashing waves. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t really know how to shoot anything else or what, but I’d say about 80% of my photography are long exposures, if not more.

Given the nature of your chosen subjects, are there heightened safety considerations when planning a shoot?

Definitely, but not when I plan my trips. No telling how many great shots or compositions I’ve missed due to my disdain for heights. Most of the waterfalls I like to shoot are off trail and require steep scrambles, both down and up,and I’m not the most sure-footed of people. There have been two waterfalls that required steep scrambles to get to that I had to make 3 different trips to just to finally convince myself to buck up and do it, and I’m always glad after taking the risks. But I definitely recommend not doing these types of adventures alone. There is always the concern too of coming across a bear or mountain lion, which I’ve been lucky enough to avoid in my life thus far, but I know it’s going to happen at some point in my life if I keep going off trail.

What do you typically carry in your camera bag?

My trusty Nikon D750 and Tokina 17-35mm that I absolutely love and couldn’t shoot without, plus multiple polarizers, a Sigma 28-300mm, headlight, multiple microfiber cloths, remote shutter release, extra battery, and bear spray.

Do you favour a particular software and post-processing technique, such as luminosity masking or HDR?

I pretty much solely use Lightroom with NIK plugins. I’ll take my photos in to Photoshop for a few things, but I’m still a novice with that software.

How important has training, mentorship & critical feedback been for your personal photographic development?
I’d say it’s been Very important, but most of my training has been self taught.   I’ve never taken any professional classes or workshops.  Most of what I’ve learned has been through trial and error, you know, looking at other photographers’ work, picking up different techniques here and here, and gaining inspiration from them, but also turning it into your own style, making it your own.   You don’t want to carbon copy another photographer’s work.  I’ve done a couple of lessons on editing that really helped me a lot, especially when it comes to masking.  

I think feed back is key to any photographer when it comes to self improvement, I know it is for me.   Especially when it comes to constructive criticism, but the thing about photography is it’s so subjective, so one person may say you’ve got too much contrast and another may think you need more, just depends on the viewer.  I try to be open when someone critiques my work, you can’t take it too personal.

What advice would be your number 1 piece of advice to others aspiring to your level and style of photography?

Take classes, watch tutorials and just get out and play with your camera and just have fun.   If you’re serious about your photography, spend the money, go to workshops, do some Skype sessions with a pro if you can. you’ll really gain a lot of ideas and techniques.    But the main thing I’d say is to not compare yourself to other photographers, everyone has a different eye, everyone has a different technique.      Don’t try to copy anyone’s work, instead, use it for an idea of how to tweak it and make it your own style.

What are your plans for the future of your photography?

I don’t know , never really thought about it much. I guess   at some point I’d like to be good enough to where I can market myself better, maybe have a few galleries who would like to show my work. I’d also like to be able to put together a photo safari to take people on to share some of the places I love to shoot.  I just love taking pictures and sharing what I see.   I only I hope I do the beautiful landscapes I photograph justice. I want to take photos that people like looking at and would like to hang in their living rooms.

I'm an Arkansas native living in the Pacific Northwest and a photography buff with an affinity for waterfalls and anything flowing.  I’m a surgical technologist by trade currently living and working in Grants Pass, Oregon. I’d have to say my love for photography started when I got into travel nursing 16 years ago, working at various hospitals across the US. I started with a little Olympus digital point and shoot, taking snapshots of my travels and sharing them with people back home. Then I discovered the outdoors more and hiking and a friend suggested since I like taking pictures so much I should invest in a DSLR, which I had no idea what that was or what It even did. So I bought a Nikon D40, for $350, which at the time I thought was a lot of money for a camera, boy was I in for a surprise And the rest, as they say, is history. In my spare, spare time, when I’m not out getting lost in the woods shooting waterfalls, or not inconvenienced by work, I like to listen to music, (anything Led Zeppelin), enjoy craft beers, running trying to stay in shape during my ageing years and for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

Cooper's 500px Portfolio