10 Questions with...Elia Locardi

I am so excited to share this post with you today. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Elia Locardi is a fantastic photographer that I was first exposed to on Google+. I saw his work (specifically, I saw those escalator photos – aren’t they awesome?!) and immediately his color, composition and the humor in his posts really struck me as being unique. I think we all have a bit of an online persona, but in my dealings with Elia throughout this interview process, I can tell you that he is above all, real. It’s the real him that he displays, and I for one sure appreciate that. Plus, I love his photography. He is unquestionably very talented! So, thank you for stopping by today – and enjoy these 10 questions with…Elia Locardi!!

And just so you can stay in touch with him and follow his photographic awesomeness, here are his website and social media details:

Blog:  http://www.blamethemonkey.com

Google+ : https://plus.google.com/u/0/112957708071337353347/posts 

Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/blamethemonkey 

Twitter : https://twitter.com/#!/EliaLocardi 

500px : http://500px.com/EliaLocardi 

Flickr : http://www.flickr.com/photos/blamethemonkey 

Please visit and share his website via your social media outlet of choice – more people need to see the beauty of his photographs! Help him live the dream!

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1.) Why did you name your blog Blame the Monkey?

Initially it was the simple fact that in Chinese Astrology, I’m a monkey. I was always the monkey of the family until my nephew, Emrys came along. Now I’m a monkey’s uncle!

I had also been reading about eastern folklore, specifically the monkey god. I was fascinated to discover that Monkey plays a significant role in eastern beliefs. Though, simply put, an asshole, Monkey also embodies the inner child and no matter what kind of trouble he gets into (or causes), he always does it with a passionate sense of adventure and ego. He follows his bliss no matter what the consequences are. It’s more than that too. Even though he is just a irritating prankster in the beginning, Monkey is able to learn from his mistakes and grow as a person and as a leader. So for me, he not only represents my inner child, but he also represents my quest for knowledge, growth, and discovery.

Blame The Monkey is also a play on words. The Chinese believe that you should never blame monkey for how he acts because that is only his nature. I remember standing in the Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai where I met a fellow photographer and the entire wall of the shrine was this beautifully carved sculpture of various monkeys in various poses. I thought that was a good opportunity to talk about the name of my website. As soon as the words left my mouth, he looked at me and said very seriously, “But one must never blame the monkey.”  I do blame him though. I blame him for following my bliss, for taking risks, for learning from my mistakes, and for growing as a person and as a human primate. I blame him for everything good in my life. That bastard!

"Belly of the Best" - Stockholm, Sweden

2.) Can you tell us about how you got started in photography?

You may be a bit surprised to hear that it was unintentional at first. I had a long career in post production ranging from Motion Design for television to Visual Effects for film. I even spent 4 years developing and teaching a Bachelor's degree program called, Visual Effects and Motion Graphics for an accredited university.

After 10 long years of 40 - 60 hour work weeks in a client based world with almost no vacation time, I was completely burnt out. At the peak of the housing crisis, completely overwhelmed by debt, my wife and I sold our house and moved to a small town in Central Florida called Melbourne Beach. I spent the next 2 years learning to surf and healing my soul.

The original plan was to quit the digital world forever. For a time, it worked and I hardly touched a computer at all. But once we started traveling, I picked up a DSLR and was able to re-spark my artistic passion and creativity. It seemed like overnight, creating photographs consumed me 100% and seamlessly linked my past working experience with something new and exciting.

"The Beautiful Vernazza" - Cinque Terre, Italy


3.) You recently finished selling all your earthly possessions (unless they say Apple or Nikon on them, I assume!) and began a fully nomadic, photographic life. How did you make the decision to do this? And most importantly, do you need an assistant? ;)

I get that question a lot. I honestly wish I could share this experience with everyone. Real Estate in my suitcase is rather limited though. ;) 

Like I said, photography consumed me 100% and blamethemonkey.com became my highest priority. So much so that my wife and I were extending as many trips as possible and maxing out the limits of our humble finances. We lived on ramen and peanut butter and jelly, always looking for ways to eat, live, and travel as cheap as possible. We soon realized if we could become fully mobile, without the burden of a normal life and regular rent and bills, we could put everything we had into photography and travel. Since my wife and I both have jobs that don't require a specific location -- me being a travel photographer and she a graphic designer -- we knew we could make it work. 

We spent about 6 months planning and finally executing our location independence. Letting go of our possessions was surprisingly easy. In our eyes cars, electronics, and furniture just translated into more money for travel and gear. With a lot of careful research, we were able to convert our entire lives into a few small and optimized pieces of luggage.

"The Blue Mosque" - Istanbul, Turkey

4.) What does your next year look like in terms of places you are planning to go, and why have you picked those as the first destinations?

This year we have a mix of repeats and new destinations. The first stops starting March 15th were Sydney, Singapore, China, and Hong Kong. Right now, April 30th, I'm on a plane headed to Vancouver. With this year completed in full, I hope to have visited 20 - 25 different Countries.

There's a little bit of spontaneity involved in our selection process. I have a skeleton calendar with some bits fleshed and some bits open. I try to at least figure out the region of the world before I fill in the details.  A few months out, I try to solidify the plans and dates. It's probably similar to how a mad scientist mixes his chemicals together. Some sort of crazy scheme followed by a little bit of this, a little of that, and oh shit I just burnt my finger off.

"Marina Bay Sands and The Helix Bridge" - Singapore

5.) What places are on your photographic bucket list? 

That's a hard question to answer because every time I scratch one off the list, I add at least 2 in its place.  If I had to choose one to rule them all though, it would be to shoot the earth from space. Set your goals high, right? ;)

"Going Home" - London, England


6.) Which of your photographs is your personal favorite and why?

Probably The Valley of Fog because it was such a perfect and unlikely event. I had written off the whole day to shitty weather and then the fog lifted and revealed the most breathtaking view I have ever seen.  I must have had good weather karma that day. Or maybe it was my reverse naked rain dance? I guess we’ll never know.

"The Valley of Fog" - Meteora, Greece

7.) What is your normal workflow and processing approach to a photo?

I'm fascinated by color and composition and I try to make that the staple of my photography. As far as what I shoot, I try to rely on my intuition to tell me what to do. In a way, I feel things out rather than think them out. Certain scenes just sort of click for me and certain color values just pop. After I see something worth shooting, I worry about figuring out the technical side of how to correctly capture it.

From there, I'll typically shoot 5 bracketed exposures covering the EV range of -2 to +2. If I'm shooting into the sun -- which I love to do -- I may shoot 9 exposures to capture all the light. All in camera filters and effects are disabled.

In post, I try to keep things as clean as possible using simple masking and color correction. Above all, I try to bring back and enhance the beauty that's already there. Sometimes though, the colors just need a little bit of extra encouragement. ^_^

"Falling Tide" - Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy


8.) What advice would you give someone who wants to make a go at being a full-time, working photographer?

Things can sometimes become stressful so above all, just have fun with it and try not to take yourself too seriously. Always remember that it's more about the journey then the destination.

Oh, and it also helps to know that the ultimate answer to the ultimate question is: 42. :)

"The Future is Now" - Dubai, UAE

9.) When did you see your photographic popularity take off, and was there a major event at the heart of it (apart from the beautiful photos, of course!)?

I still wouldn’t consider myself very popular but if I had to pinpoint an event that (at least) helped my name get out there it would be Google+. I’ve made some really great connections (including yourself) through being social on Google+. Overall, it’s been a great way to make new friends and have meaningful interaction which I value much more than popularity.

"Under Ponte Sant'Angelo" - Rome, Italy

10.) What is your philosophy on social media, and how do you use it in your business?

On a personal level and as a constant traveler, I like it. It gives me the ability to keep in touch with the people I care about no matter where (or when) I am. It’s a powerful communication tool.

From a business standpoint, I’m not sure how I feel about it. I can certainly see the potential in social media marketing, but I’m not sure how that’s going to play out in the long run. I feel like there are so many big egos out there that are just pushing their brands in a self serving manner. I hate to sound cynical but my feeling is that too much self promotion can water down any meaningfulness that can be found in social media. It quickly just turns into, buy this thing or like this page. Here’s my latest photo now sign up for my newsletter, visit my sponsors, buy my book, and subscribe to my twitface account. Not only is it an unfortunate paradigm but it’s also seriously annoying.

So the question is, how do we share our photography and sell our business without bombarding people with a cloud of marketing bullshit? I don’t know the whole answer but part of it is: simple honesty.  Essentially, the most important thing that you’re selling is yourself, so be honest about who you are and if people like it, then they’ll start responding to it. When that starts happening, establish connections by engaging with your audience before you start blasting out too much self promotion. If you play the ego card first, you’ll turn many more people off than on.

For me, it’s all about being honest and honestly, I’m always trying to strike the right balance. I want people to be able to learn from my experiences with photography but it’s totally optional. If you like it, cool but if not, that’s cool too. I’ll certainly never be in your face about it. I’d rather spend time connecting with people and having real interactions. For me, that builds more than just business. It builds community.

"The Hive Mind" - Dubai, UAE 

"Twilight Monastery" - Meteora, Greece

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Thanks for stopping by today everyone, and please visit and share http://www.blamethemonkey.com/ so that more folks can see Elia's beautiful work!  Thanks to Elia Locardi for taking the time to do this!