Interview with Stephen Bartkus | GBPW Episode 179

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Quick summary

In this episode of Great Big Photography World podcast, Stephen Bartkus shares a compelling journey of rediscovering his passion for photography, delving into overcoming creative blocks with the support of a vibrant community, and much more.

portrait photo of Stephen Bartkus

I push myself now to do better than I used to.

Stephen Bartkus

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winter landscape photo by Stephen Bartkus

In this episode, I speak with one of our Community members and ambassadors, Stephen Bartkus. After suffering a stroke three years ago, Stephen used photography as a means to exercise his brain and reignite his passion for photography.

We talk about:

  • How he discovered his love for photography back in the days of film
  • Overcoming photography slump with community support
  • Photography techniques and editing

& much more!

Stephen generously shares his personal shooting and editing tips that will motivate and inspire you.

Here is a preview of our conversation with Stephen Bartkus.

black and white photo by Stephen Bartkus

Q: When you first got into photography back in the days of film, how did you discover your passion for it?

Stephen Bartkus: My father had a Voightlander, which is a two-and-a-quarter camera film, and you had to look down at the camera because the screen would open up. I use black and white, and I would cut lines to get film to use it.Then I would have to wait to send it out. And so he built me a dark room. He used the camera when he was in the war. I have a bunch of his pictures. So I got to a point to develop the pictures, and I’d set it up where I could to the baths to process the different photographs. And what was great about it is you could get to see it as it came alive. And you see the pictures and, like, oh, cool. This came up pretty good. And that’s kind of where I got hooked on it.

macro photo of a sunflower

Q: What are the biggest changes that you’ve noticed yourself after joining the community?

Stephen Bartkus: After I joined, I started to look forward to being a photographer again. And I think that the 52-week course is what got me going. I was learning how to do stuff I had never been taught to do, like still live panorama, other types of lessons that you get you to understand what your camera can do, what you can do with editing and create these pictures that you see other people do in magazines, and having new assignments in the challenge of the course. I never did or haven’t done in a while. Kind of brought up stuff I used to do as a kid, and that kind of been starting to get my creativity going again.

b&w landscape by Stephen Bartkus

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring nature photographers who want to get better at compositions?

Stephen Bartkus: I really don’t have a set system. I used the rule of thirds, and I tried to have leading lines. Basically, I look at my viewfinder. What is Steve like? What looks cool? And tests my composition. And maybe I have past experiences that are just in my head from my other jobs. But I just looked at a lot of compositions of famous photographers and landscaping. And I tried to see what made the photos stand out more than others. And then I look at my photos. Does it have emotions? Does it project something that people may like? But I tried to take photos now, just what Stephen likes. Not like, will this make it into a contest, or maybe this will make a magazine. I started doing that, and I think it helps me have a better composition.

Stephen’s community profile

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Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.

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  1. @Dadmeister nice to put a voice to your face, i enjoyed your podcast sorry about your stroke you had your doing great my friend, thank you so much for the mention and the kind words you said i think we all inspire each other
    your photography is getting better, each week you push yourself harder nice one my friend

  2. @Dadmeister Stephen, I’m sorry it took a while to get to your podcast. You’ll be happy to know that your voice kept me company while I cooked steak tacos in the middle of the woods.

    You are one of the most genuine human beings I have ever met. Thank-you for sharing your story. It was really nice to hear about your childhood through to your switch to digital photography.

    I had no idea about the obstacles you’ve encountered in your life. Knowing this really adds an additional impact to your photos. You’re also very passionate about the community and I can hear the light in your voice as you speak about it. I’m very lucky yo have you here with us.

    Your photography journey is far from over and it’s an honour to join you on it my friend.

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