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When one door closes - we all know what happens next. Right?

At least we think we know and we try to figure out what the next step is.

When I tell people how long I’ve been a photographer I always say since 2016.

I think I've been here for 6 years.

But what I left out was those 3-4 months my camera was in the repair shop or that entire year & a half I felt uninspired by my camera in 2018.

And I won’t even begin to talk about the rollercoaster that came in 2020 but I will talk about the shift I entered when I learned what layers looked like.

Literal LAYERS and I cannot make this up.

I’m talking about photographs that could be served as a wedding cake.

Or those crazy gooey layered plates of pasta on Tasty’s TikTok.

Friends let me introduce Karl Ndieli

Instagram handle @ karl_shakur

This man introduced an entirely new way of how I viewed photography.

When I came across him, I had the good old creative block. This discovery was made merely through the simple fact that I was looking for the whys to pick up my camera again while I was stuck.

Before I begin to dive into the process of finding layers I want to give insight to Karl. He is a well-established world traveler, an Instagram feed god, and a charismatic soul on YouTube. His ability to tell through his incredible photography has seriously changed the game. It goes beyond his photography, through his YouTube channel he makes a 3-5 minute video that takes you to the moon and back, in the best way possible. Breaking down his creative process in every adventure he has - his videos are quite literally the greatest experiences.

His focus is the world and the experiences he creates with the people around him. Fearless, ambitious, and pretty damn funny along the way. Karl has created a very distinctive work style for himself. He has the ability to show you a wide range of the same color in one photo.

The awareness of color detail is insane.

I had to learn a few things when reassessing my photography after discovering Karl. This photo above had me wondering what the hell do I need to do to achieve this look. The layered depth makes you believe you can see all of the world in that single focal length. Mind you, I had been a decently experienced photographer - but only ever shot portraits + lifestyle. This style above is a mix of landscape lifestyle? But maybe that’s just adventure photography. I knew I had to get there.

For starters - I was glued to my 35mm lens. And if you are unfamiliar, 35mm will capture a standard length. Not too wide but not that close. I was stuck on it because it truly is such a great lens. It's efficient and it will undoubtedly capture a dream photo. But it was limited in a few different aspects. It simply won’t give you those intense layers.

I had the 70-300mm lens for what felt like forever but I think I may be picked up maybe a handful of times. Practically next to nothing.

It will zoom in on an ant, it used to be useless to me. And I think overall I was just intimidated by it because of how little I used it. When I say it can zoom in, that sucker zooms in.

I wanted depth in my photos. I wanted to go out into the world and just capture. I was on a mission to learn how to step up my photography. I remember during the summer of 2020 I would save Karl’s photographs onto my camera roll so my inspiration was readily handy.

That summer, I used the blocky 70-300mm lens to achieve the layers I had hoped for. And I was hooked.

I had my camera next to me during all of my adventures, the process of achieving layers was such a pivotal moment for me in my photography timeline. In my personal photos below, you can tell how I might’ve zoomed in with my lens. The photo with the palm trees for reference - I was standing across the bay, about a quarter of a mile away from the subjects. Sure enough, I achieved layers. Finally.

I found so much fiery inspiration and a better connection with my photography after discovering Karl Ndieli. His work and technique are constantly evolving and it is such a powerful moving force for photographers like myself who are open and ready to be inspired.

-Isabella June Media


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