Interview with Photojournalist Bobby Earle

August 31, 2010

in Guest Photographer Judge

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We have been wanting to feature Bobby Earle as our Guest Photographer Judge for quite some time. His photography is moving, poignant and definitely tells a story. He was the perfect fit for our Photojournalism theme this week!  While he is also a wedding photographer, photojournalism is a strong part of his career as well.

He writes: I enjoy life on an insane level. Married to a rad chick. About to have a son. Travel the world. Shoot weddings. Blog too much about nothing. I believe in being kind to all people you interact with and interacting with people who think opposite of you.

Bobby’s Photography Journey:

I found photography by accident. Lindsay and I went all over the world for non-profit work (which is how we met) — so we always loved traveling. Our first year anniversary, (after setting money aside from donating plasma twice a week for a solid year) I surprised Lindsay with a two and a half month trip all over Europe. I told her Christmas morning and we left two days later. Having some Christmas gift money, we bought a little film rebel. I was shown how to load film and figured the rest out while backpacking. It just all fell into place from there 🙂 If you want a much more detailed story, you can check out my interview with Totally Rad Actions — I blab on and on and on and on about it.

Bobby’s Favorite Face Photos:

I love this image so much. The lake village at Tonle Sap (near Siem Reap, Cambodia) was pretty dried out so we were able to walk around. I’ve been to this village several times and love it. It’s just a lifestyle of such simplicity — I can’t help but love it. This little girl was just sitting here. I clearly involved myself in the image by having her notice me — but her reaction is so genuine. I love it.

It’s hard to beat a portrait of a man hours out of town — in the middle of the Chinese countryside — who lives on the Simatai section of the Great Wall (the unrestored section) and rolls his own cigarettes.

Sometimes faces can be seen without faces. I love this image because if you know these two — you know Dug, their bulldog, is their life. It’s a different kind of portrait that I enjoy 🙂

The orphanage that Lindsay and I worked at years ago — and now visit as often as we can — is a little slice of heaven. This boy’s portrait is a perfect example of that.

I like how obvious this image is. Just a girl in a foreign country (that happens to be my wife :).

Another out in the Tonle Sap (Cambodia). These two had no clue I even existed. One completely naked. Fishing in the shallows for little shrimp — just everyday life for them. I love it.

Frank Black. That is all.

I love these guys. I mean that in the most literal sense. I love and care about these guys so much. They’ve taught me so much about life. I did an entire blog post dedicated to them 🙂

Do I even need to say anything? Katie’s expression just shows how amazing life is when you’re washing elephants in a river out in Thai countryside.

Fun Q&A with Bobby:

  • What do you love most about capturing faces?

It might sound incredibly narcissistic, and it just might be, but I love shooting people with the idea in mind that when they see their image later they’ll think “freaking awesome!!!!!!” I also have a goal that after the person I’m shooting has past on, that people will look at the photo I shot with fondness. Pictures can remind us how incredible life was — and still is — so I love that fact when shooting faces 🙂

  • What do you find most difficult about capturing faces?

The goal is to do a screen grab of the person’s soul, you know? And sort of paste that screen grab into my memory card. I know… deep, isn’t it? 😛 Sometimes that process can get a little challenging. Some people are harder to break — harder to get them to drop the wall. But those people can end up being some of the most rewarding to shoot.

  • What is your favorite photo shoot?

It was in the jungles of Cambodia during monsoon season — absolutely pouring down rain. Some local kids were out playing in a pond in front of Angkor Wat — having a total blast. I set up my tripod and let them take photos of me and Lindsay — their first time ever using a camera so they had a blast — and then I got some awesome images of them living it up. Every trip to Cambodia, I’m reminded of how simplicity makes for the best childhood.

  • What was your most stressful, most embarrassing or most fun photography moment?

I’m never stressed or embarrassed — and I’ve had plenty of reason to be embarrassed! I just lack the ability to feel that way, I suppose 🙂 The funnest photography moment… oh, that’s SO hard! One that comes to mind is being out in China and shooting Stephen and Shelby’s Beijing engagement photos. Shelby is my translator for my trips out in China — and a great friend. Having gone to China regularly over the last ten years (and her living there for many years now) we both LOVE the culture — so trying to squeeze “China” into their images was such an incredibly fun experience 🙂

Bobby’s Helpful Hints:

For starters, I think it’s so important for photographers to be lovers of life first — and photographers second. I get nearly every ounce of my inspiration for photography from my love for life, my family, friends, the outdoors, different cultures, and so on. That, in my opinion, is so much more inspiring than checking 15 photographers’ blogs every day.

Second, I think it’s equally important for photographers to be genuine first and original last. To put it bluntly, not to even bother with being original. I wrote an entire post about that here if you care to hear me babble on and on about it 😉

Aside from that, I love helping photographers however I can! I know that’s cliche to say, but I genuinely do — as I was helped so much when I was getting my feet wet. Whether it’s on my FAQ posts, my Before and After Wednesdays, if you join me on the Raddest Photo Trip Ever in Thailand and Cambodia this December, or if you’re in the neighborhood and want to grab Chick-fil-a with me (our FAVORITE place!)… I genuinely enjoy being around people — and photographers are people, so they count 🙂 I’m never sure how much I actually help but I sure do love trying 🙂

Bobby’s Camera Gear:

I shoot with 5D Mark II’s and lots of primes and tilt shifts. I am a total lover of Totally Rad Actions & Presets! I’m surprised everyone isn’t using Showit Sites — the best web design software alive! I use the living daylights out of my Shootsac (even more for travel than weddings!). And Smugmug keeps me afloat with the best value around for online back up and image sharing/selling. And none of those people pay me to say that… not yet 😉

Find Bobby Here:

Was that not the most amazing and interesting interview ever?!  We are thrilled to have you here with us this week Bobby!

Please feel free to write Bobby a note or to ask him a photography-related question in the comments section below.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Theodore (Ted) Stark September 2, 2010

RT @ibarionex: Interview with Photojournalist Bobby Earle | I Heart Faces – A Weekly Photography Challenge & Tutorial


Ibarionex Perello September 2, 2010

Interview with Photojournalist Bobby Earle | I Heart Faces – A Weekly Photography Challenge & Photo Tutorials


tonya September 2, 2010

Yay! Bobby is my very fave photog and it’s probably only 50% because of his photography. Love his take on life, his obvious deep love for his wife, his attitude and love of nature and animals. I was tickled that my photo is the one that showed up on the header above his post (the girl in sunglasses with the flare), not that it means anything, LOL, but it just made me happy! Can’t wait to see all the awesome IHF entries for this one!


Tori September 2, 2010

What an inspiring interview!


David Ryan September 2, 2010

Interview with Photojournalist Bobby Earle | I Heart Faces – A …


Amanda Pfeifer September 1, 2010

I love your photos. And I love that you are not a “photojournalist” .. but you are!
The pictures you take tell a story, and capture a moment. Your answers for the first two questions are exactly how I feel about photography as well. My subjects are my family, and I am journalling our story..
I’m not a photojournalist.. I’m still working on “photographer”

I’d love to get tips, or a few ideas on how to get people to loosen up during a photoshoot to get those natural expressions of emotion, instead of a “cheese” smile.


Dana-from chaos to Grace September 1, 2010

THIS is the photography that I love the VERY best! Senior portraits, and newborn shoots… stuff…..all great, and I LOVE doing it….

But THIS is what I truly, deep down in my heart WANT to do! I want to shoot Mission trips! I want to go with our Youth minister when he goes to Cambodia or Burma (usually 2-3 times a year), or back to Mexico, or China….oh how I want to go to China! I want to shoot the everyday stuff….those FACES!

Gosh, your photos make me all weepy.


Katie Lewis September 1, 2010

I’m the one on the elephant!!! Bobby and Lindsay really are amazing and so much fun to travel with! I HIGHLY recommend everyone go on the Thailand/Cambodia trip in December. It’s the most amazing experience and really, when will you ever get there if you just don’t go for it. What a perfect reason to go! I made amazing friends on that trip, had amazing experiences and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Just my little endorsement!! 🙂 Love you two!!


Bobby Earle August 31, 2010

Are you serious?! Awe! That’s so sweet!

And the only thing that’s stopping me from such a trip is… NOTHING! Let’s do it! Jan and Feb are still dry season in Thailand and Cambodia… wink, wink 😉


Angie from I Heart Faces August 31, 2010

I was so excited when you agreed to be a Guest Judge for us Bobby…you were one of the first photographers I stumbled upon when I became interested in photography and you were such an inspiration! Thanks for hanging out with us this week. 🙂

P.S. We should totally have a Bobby Earle/I Heart Faces Cambodia trip. How fun would that be?!


Bobby Earle August 31, 2010

Wow! Thanks so much to everyone for the kind words! Means so much to me 😉 Now, let me see if I can get everyone back in this one…

@Hannah — Wow. Thanks so much for that! I feel like what you describe is my approach so it’s nice to see when someone else feels that way about my images 😉

@Raven Mathis @ LMMP — Thanks for the welcome! If you follow my blog for any reasonable amount of time, you’ll find out quickly that I may be white on the outside, but I’m all Chinese on the inside! My Chinese friends all consider Lindsay and myself more Chinese than they are 😛 That country is just so, so easy to photograph. I’m extremely pleased that you liked the images from there 😉

@Helen — Always surprised that I can inspire some out there but so thrilled at the same time 🙂

@Life with Kaishon — We actually don’t really have any photos hanging up in our house! But I get my prints through Smugmug (using Bay Photo) or WHCC — or if I’m short on time I have no problem going to Wal-mart and using their hour photo (matte with NO color correction). I think I’m the only pro who will admit that 😛

@Nama — Thanks a ton for that! I think traveling has been the motivation for so many of us to start up with photography. And I’m so happy my post on originality sat well with you. It’s freeing, isn’t it? Screw being original. Be honest. Be sincere. That might not get you cool points with other photographers — but not many amazing artists in history were amazing because they got cool points from their peers.

@Diandra — Awe! Thanks! And long time, no see!!! Forget “someday” — come this December!!!

@laura — Believe me, I know how many amazing photographers there are out there (so many are WAY better than I am) so I’m always so touched when I’m on people’s fav list. Hope I can keep it up! 😛

@gail — Ha! And if I was a drinking kind of guy (love that you specified that 😉 I’d toast you right back!!!

@Jason Davis — For starters, let me just tell you that we almost invariably do what we want. When I had little money and still made it a point to travel with my wife once a year (before I was a pro photographer), I was told by so many friends how lucky we were and how they’d kill to travel as much as we did. But the fact was, they wanted it the way one wants a golden toilet seat — it’s just a nice idea. Many of them made more money than I did. But in the end, what they REALLY wanted was to be able to get Starbucks every other day, eat out a few times a month, go to movies on the weekend, hit up the local theme park, go shopping for fun clothes every so often, and on and on… So first, my advice would be to have you ask yourself if you are acting in accordance with these wants that you have.

From there… man, it’s really a huge conversation. I don’t even know where to start in a comment section of a blog post, to be honest! These are the types of conversations that are perfect for my RPTE trips — and I’ve got a few spots left for December so you should come!!!

@Susan — That’s so great that your son was able to do that. I’m so convinced that traveling outside the west as a younger adult is so much more maturing than college (NOTE: I specified outside the west so kids going to Europe for a few weeks on a backpacking trip is NOT the maturation process I’m speaking of ;). I can only imagine the life perspective he came back with!

I would add that I don’t intend to show sadness with my Cambodia images. In fact, it’s the exact opposite! So many of us in the west know how poor Cambodia is compared to our own nation (be it the States, Canada, somewhere in Europe, etc) — but Cambodia is one of the poor nations that still smiles. They still laugh. The kids make insanely small amounts of money, go to school in the morning, walk 10 miles to sell trinkets, walk home, have tons of responsibility — but they’ve figured it out. They’ve figured out a simple joy that we in the west have lost. Read my blog post that is linked to underneath the photo above of my Cambodian tuk-tuk driver friends and it’ll go into more detail 🙂

@kathy — You’re VERY welcome! So glad you enjoyed it 😉

@amy — Thank you so much for having me! I’m honored that you even thought to ask me to be a guest 🙂 About Italy… I’m actually thinking about putting Italy on hold for a while. I believe so strongly in my Thailand and Cambodia trips — that people come back with a whole new perspective on ON TOP of the amazing holiday we have — and it’s making me drop the Italy trip for a while. Don’t get me wrong, Italy is amazing! We’ve been like 10+ times. But there’s a sense of “life is so beautiful — so good” that you get when you leave Cambodia that makes it so much more rewarding for me as a trip leader 🙂 So come on that one!!!

@Tracy — You get me 😉 I suck terribly at phone calls, emails, facebook messages, and the like. I love and live for conversation. I’m sure we could talk for hours and hours 🙂 I so appreciate your kind words.

@Shannon Gray — Yay! So glad you enjoy the images!

@Alexandra — Man. That might be the best compliment a photographer can ever get. You made my day with that one 😉


Alexandra August 31, 2010

This was a really amazing interview. Thank you so much Bobby. You’ve definitely changed my outlook 🙂


Shannon Gray August 31, 2010

Amazing photos! Very inspiring stuff! I love when photographers capture people in their real environment!! Love all the photos!


Tracy August 31, 2010

There are photographs which capture moments, emotions, and minds… that simply make us take a moment to pause and drink them in. Then there are people that draw us in and make us want to sit down and converse with them for hours… This interview struck a cord, captured my attention and left me wanting more. How interesting you are… it’s clear why your photography is so captivating.


amy August 31, 2010

Bobby- We want to go on a trip with you!!! WOW! Italy? Sign us up:-) For real.

Thanks for being our judge and such an awesome inspiration!

Co-Founder, IHF


kathy August 31, 2010

Wow! Love the photos and all the really great advice! Thank you for a reeaally great interview!


Susan August 31, 2010

Welcome Bobby and thank you! Your photos are extrodinaray. And so interesting to me.

My 25 year old returned home from a 2 year world tour. Started out in Tawian, ending in Spain. He lost his camera and had to borrow anything he could get his hands on. His pictures in Cambodia, looked so much like yours. (well, same saddness). Can’t wait to read your blog and learn more about what you are doing.


Jason Davis August 31, 2010

Bobby, as someone who has stumbled upon photography and then made the transition to being photojournalist, how do you find work or stay afloat? That must b a truly rewarding career and I admit to being envious. In fact, it’s what I want to do more than anything…

– Jason


gail August 31, 2010

Wow, one of my all time photographers featured! If I was a drinking kind of girl I would toast to Bobby Earle.


laura August 31, 2010

yep, you are now on the favorite list, which is short. thanks for being an inspiration and for becoming a photographer.


Diandra August 31, 2010

PS… Bobby I’m totally going on one of your trips someday.


Diandra August 31, 2010

Okay so I am totally admitting that I rarely read the interviews with photographers on here but Bobby and Lindsay are two of my favorite people that I barely know 🙂

Love this interview!


Nama August 31, 2010

Bobby, you have truly inspired me. I got into photography heavily once I started to travel, and my husband and I try to travel as much as we can now! And my camera never leaves my side.

And I loved your post on originality. Yes, taking sincere and honest photos is what I strive to do in the hopes that others will see that, too! I wrote a post on the idea of creating art through my photography by photographing other “works” of “art”. That while it wasn’t original, it’s my point of view, my focus, my new creation. Seriously, love your thoughts and your blog.


Life with Kaishon August 31, 2010

Do you have pictures hung up all around your home? Where do you get those prints made? Loved your interview! Your style is fabulous.


Helen August 31, 2010

What an amazing interview, amazing pictures and amazing life he’s lead already! Very inspiring – thank you for sharing!


Raven Mathis @ LMMP August 31, 2010

Great guest judge you guy!

Welcome Bobby and I love your China photos. 🙂


Hannah August 31, 2010

I love his images! This is the type of photography that is genuine, and that’s hard to find in a world so full of rules and regulations. We should try to remember that photography is an art, and usually, its okay to break out of the bounds and be free to soar. His photos show the soul, when so many other photographers have shots that have been set up in order to achieve the perfect image–lighting, props, placement, etc. Love him.


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