Pro Team Mandy Lea - nomadic photographer and 3 Legged Thing Pro Team member

Published on August 1st, 2018 | by Alison Barclay

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Pro Team: Mandy Lea

Our Pro Team are a fantastic group of talented photographers, many of whom have used 3 Legged Thing tripods and accessories for several years. In this series of interviews, we are introducing you to the different members of the team, using short Q&As to give you some insight into how they work, what equipment they use, and how they became professional photographers.

Next in the series is Mandy Lea, a nomadic landscape photographer who lives in her teardrop camper.

Tell us about your first or favourite camera.

“My first camera was the classic Pentax K1000. My mom gave it to me and let me take it on a camping trip. I was so excited to get my many rolls of film developed when I returned home, only to find in disappointment that I had been loading the film incorrectly the entire trip and didn’t come away with a single image. But you can be sure I never made that mistake again. After the first roll of very mediocrely exposed images I produced, I was hooked for life.”

How did you choose the genre of photography that you currently work in?

“I made a living shooting events, headshots and live performances. While the income was steady I was becoming burnt out on my dream job – photography. In an effort to revitalize the passion, I turned to my other love, the mountains. From then on I knew this is what I was meant to be doing. Capturing the beauty for others just as much as for myself.”

Mountain reflection image. Photo by Mandy Lea

Who are the photographers who have inspired you, and why?

“The photographers who inspired me were not from books or movies, but the real life people who showed me the beauty and possibilities of landscape photography. Ed Heaton was one of the first I met, and subsequently took workshops from. He showed me beautiful places and taught me to look for magic. David Brookover also taught me that you can reimagine the beauty of the landscape in artistic ways.”

Tree image. Photo by Mandy Lea

Is there a defining photographic image from the last decade, one you could live with on your wall permanently?

“Yes. When I first photographed the Grand Tetons, I woke for sunrise. This sunrise was the most beautiful sunrise I have seen to date. This is the sunrise that made me change my life. This sunrise made me quit my job and move to the road. This sunrise saved my life.”

Take us through your process when shooting.

“When I arrive at a scene to shoot, I am immediately drawn to a vantage point. I will stand there and breathe deeply for awhile, but then I will spend some time exploring the area and experiencing every angle. After I’ve chosen my first spot to shoot I will set my tripod. This is probably the most important step of my process. Not only is the tripod for stability, but it forces me to slow my mind, and to intentionally set my composition in the most perfect way. I will photograph the scene, and then when I have finished I will sit with the purpose of not shooting it.”

Waterfall image. Photo by Mandy Lea

What’s always in your bag(s)?

“The obvious – Camera, variety of lenses, tripod. The not as obvious – intervalometer, lens cloth, hand warmers (for batteries), bear spray.”

Dream project or story you’d like to tell through images?

“I would love to tell the story of a mountain. To document the history of it, the hows and whys of all of the rivers, streams, and trees that exist on it. To show people the natural wonders of the earth, no matter how small, so that they may have a greater appreciation for them.”

Starry sky image. Photo by Mandy Lea.

One piece of advice you give to someone thinking of taking up photography.

“Listen to your gut above the voices of all others.”

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be doing?

“I used to think about this often… “what if I hadn’t chosen this path”. Until I came to the conclusion that any thoughts that begin with “what if” are an unhealthy waste of time. I relish in living the present of my current being.”

Sunbeam image. Photo by Mandy Lea.

Why do you use a tripod?

“The stability a tripod provides, while important, is only part of why I use it. The use of a tripod is a fundamental element in putting one’s mind in the state of being it needs to see the true beauty in front of them. When you use a tripod it forces your mind to slow down. It forces you to intentionally set your camera in the perfect composition. You begin to be present in your own photograph rather than running through it. The tripod forces an awareness and intent you could not otherwise achieve.”

All photos: ©Mandy Lea

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