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This week, we touch base with Elia Locardi, Florida-based landscape photographer and Skylum Ambassador.
For Elia Locardi, landscape photography is an abstract term. Landscapes can be anything from the Seljalandsfoss in Iceland to the soaring skyscrapers of Singapore. But what Elia really likes to focus on is areas where people have found a way to exist against all odds, where man-made feats of engineering coexist with earth’s natural beauty.
We caught up with Elia to get his take on LuminarAI and what it means for achieving his creative vision.
When acclaimed landscape photographer Elia Locardi first learned how to surf, things didn’t go quite as planned.
“I paddled out in the ocean,” notes Elia. “And I didn't know what I was doing. And as soon as I figured out a few things, I started getting stressed out like I can't do these turns. I don't know how to do this. And I didn't know that they were professional surfers, but I had a few pros looking across the street. And I was watching them do these amazing things. 360s, all this stuff that I couldn't do. And I remember asking them like, 'Man, I'm so frustrated'. I can't do that. And I remember they said, Are you having fun? I'm like, yeah, this is really fun. He's like, Yeah, well, the best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.”
Elia took those words to heart, building a career in landscape photography by having fun along the way. Since launching his full-time photography career in 2009, Elia has visited more than 65 countries, flown nearly 2 million miles, and worked with clients in every corner of the globe.
At the heart of every Elia Locardi masterpiece is a location with a story to tell.
“It starts with the location. I would rather the location do all the work, convey all the emotion and just be something that people want to see, regardless of how it's processed. That's the core of it. I want somebody to look at it and hopefully say, 'Wow, either I've been there', 'that's that location', or 'where is that, I have to go there.'”
To achieve his vision, Elia found himself spending a lot of time working in raw, doing things like pulling back the highlights, bumping the shadows, and tweaking the white balance. His ultimate goal? To get the image back to something that resembled what he saw in person. And all that work didn’t include enhancements like sweetening the colors and fine-tuning the textures.
Elia notes that for new photographers, or even seasoned ones, post-processing can feel incredibly overwhelming, with a million ways to achieve the same result. But it’s important not to stress.
“The first thing that I like to tell people when they're getting into post-processing is don't panic, because it's actually really simple,” notes Elia. “The reason that it can seem complicated is people make it complicated. I hate to see that. There are a lot of ways to do the same thing. And sometimes when you're getting started, that can be overwhelming.”
That’s where AI comes into play.
Elia sees immense opportunity for AI to transform photography and make reaching your creative vision simple. “AI tools have sort of automated some of the things that I've done over the years, but they've also simplified processes that used to be really complex. I don't want to spend two hours on each image removing a palm frond from the foreground over a complex background. I'd rather that be a one button procedure.”
When it comes to things like sky replacement, AI is a dream-come-true — particularly for anyone who has to perform the same tasks over and over again, be it for personal work or to please a client.
“I can tell you that while the manual process is certainly fun and interesting, trying to create clean masks, but I love the one button approach,” says Elia. “Because I just want it to look good, I want the masking to be perfect, and I want the client to be happy. Now, if I can do that, and it's a 100% automatic process, that just made my day.”
When photographers employ AI in their workflow, they don’t just discover powerful tools to cement their style. They recapture an abundance of free time to explore other passions. For Elia, that passion is sleep.
“I've spent the last 12 years traveling the world and every kind of cityscape, landscape or public environment, and most of my time is spent sitting alone in the dark in front of a computer,” says Elia. “I mean, that's just the reality of photography, we're spending equal or more time in front of the computer editing. So, if I can free up some time, automate some processes, and I know that result is going to be seamless and perfect, then I can actually sleep. Chances are, I'm gonna have to get up at 4am the next day and shoot sunrise anyway. So, if I can get a few extra hours of sleep and know that the job is going to be done right. I'm pretty happy.”
“As an artist, I think the ultimate gratification is when somebody can look at an image and identify it as your image,” says Elia. “And I think that's a cool way to know that your style is one, recognizable, but two, also being consumed by people. And it may seem like photography is photography, but subtle differences can make all the difference.”
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