Longtime Juneau resident Frank Lynn Pierce is an accomplished photographer, featuring landscapes, animals and bits of history. He won Alaska Magazine’s 2015 photo contest with the image of a lynx taking a drink from a stream 10 feet away from him, and his work also made the magazine’s cover. His work can be found locally at Annie Kaill’s, the Aurora Projekt, the Mount Roberts Tramway and online at: franklynnphoto.com. I was able to catch up with Pierce to learn about his work.
CM: How did you get started in photography?
FLP: I’ve always been interested in light. I would play with a magnifying glass as a kid while starting my campfire with that pin point of focused light. I became aware of the physics of light and the lens and was amazed by it. The word focus is actually Latin for fireplace (just like that pinpoint of light). I picked up my first camera around 10 at a garage sale. It was an 8mm movie camera with stop action where I could take individual frames over time and make animation. I was so fascinated with how the lenses worked and how the whole process of capturing a moment in time worked. I could see the beauty behind it and the adjustable variables that could be altered to make the image. It was science, it was art, it was exciting. I was obsessed with the beauty of that magical machinery. How it worked to capture what I could see was so fascinating. Later in high school I took a film photography class, got my first real film camera, a Canon SLR with interchangeable lenses. I loved working in the dark room and trying to make the best of the assignments given. Later in 2002 I purchased my first digital camera to capture images for a reference for my painting, but soon found that photography was it and never returned to the canvas.
CM: How would you describe your photography style?
FLP: I tend to focus on evening and night sky and low light environments and wildlife. Often moody scenes with feeling. High contrast, subtle gradients with a well thought out composition. Often just shooting what feels right. Trying to shoot the hidden beauty that often goes unseen. I often try to have a strong foreground leading to my subject.
CM: Can you walk us through what a typical photography session looks like for you?
FLP: I love relaxing and getting into the moment and letting it happen. It incorporates a lot of what I like and have learned. The art: composition special awareness, color theory and so on. Then there is the technical mechanical side which I love to geek out on. Then there is the physics of light, which is an amazing topic, and science. Then there’s the computer side which I love learning and creating. Then there’s the software side which I can get lost in for hours perfecting the image — just lost in the moment. Then there’s the spiritual side of creating and capturing a moment in time of God’s glorious creation to share with the world. An event of subtle beauty possibly unseen by anyone else, yet it happened or exists. I like sharing those often unseen things that elude most men in their busy lives or go unseen as they are lost in silent slumber awaiting the next working day. It’s how I share God’s creation and endless wonder with the world.
CM: How do you get these incredible images of wildlife?
FLP: Patience, being ready, just being in the moment without fear or aggression toward them. Becoming a part of the environment.
CM: Any moments that you found particularly memorable when you were out shooting?
FLP: I made several woodland friends on my 4,000 mile road trip while traveling and hiking through the interior of Alaska. However, this was by far the rarest and most unique. In early September 2014, I found myself in the woods on a perfect sunny day with a warm wind blowing through the trees, just outside the entrance to Denali National Park. After calmly sitting for a while and taking a moment, I noticed something very close to me moving. It had been there all along, very still and unseen. It was a beautiful wild lynx. He slowly sat up and watched me for the longest time. I didn’t feel any fear and I sat and watched as he gazed at me with a look of wonder and curiosity, much like me. After a time together, this beautiful wild lynx became comfortable enough to lie down and relax, drink, and even hunt up a tree after a ptarmigan. We walked together up the mountainside and through the rich fall colors for around half an hour, just 10-20 feet apart. A treasured moment forever and such a beautiful day.
CM: What camera, equipment and software do you use?
FLP: I’m a Canon guy and love my 5D Mark IV full frame with an assortment of lenses. However, I find myself falling back on my 14mm and 35mm prime lenses the most. For post processing I use Lightroom by Adobe. It’s a very powerful and intuitive piece of software that suits my needs very well.
CM: Do you have any advice for a beginning photographer?
FLP: The more you shoot the more you learn. Always keep your camera with you for that unexpected moment that will never come again.
CM: Anything you’d like to say to people about you and your work?
FLP: My best work comes when I relax and get lost in the moment. This is my most creative and productive place for my art. When I relax, let go and let it almost create itself. I become a conduit for the divine. It holds true for all things in my life from my experience. My art, relationships, work, learning … even when I get into life threatening situations, driving on ice or climbing a mountain. If I remain relaxed (free of fear, insecurity, or anger, and full of love) the best outcome is assured as I easily navigate the situation calm and sure of the outcome. The best possible outcome always seems to happen. It’s faith. Relaxing, letting go, and believing in what will be. Letting it just happen unobstructed by any negativity. Love and it’s many positive attributes are always the way.