Photographer of the Month: Aaron Cooper

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Aug 17, 2019 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

One look at the extraordinary photos from our featured photographer, Aaron Cooper, and you'll do as I did: fall into his landscapes, a bit like Alice. He perfectly captures the essence of place and spirit. 

Portage, Michigan. Boat Dock ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Portage, Michigan. Boat Dock ©ACD&M 2019

Kalamazoo, Michigan. Double Sky ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Kalamazoo, Michigan. Double Sky ©ACD&M 2019

Aaron notes: 

I'm a graphic designer who specializes in aerial media. 

My passion for design started in elementary and middle school with the development of online media. Around the same time, I started dabbling in photography, using my dad's old Nikon FM2 (35mm camera) doing long exposure star track pictures in my front yard, and snapping candid headshots of my friends. In high school, I took a commercial art class for 2 years and decided to pursue design further with web design at Lansing Community College. During that time, I worked as a contractor with a small group of college students making websites for small businesses. 

After an associates degree, I moved on to Western Michigan University, graduating with a BFA focused in graphic design. I moved to Switzerland for 3 months, completeling an internship at ICON World-wide in Switzerland, where I traveled on weekends, exploring the nearby countryside with my camera. It sparked an interest in landscape and adventure photography. 

Once I returned to the states, I secured a job at VMLY&R, a digital ad agency, where I worked for four years as a graphic designer specializing in e-commerce and web design. In that time, I became a certified drone pilot and started consistently posting aerial photography to instagram. I'm now a freelancing designer with a focus on aerial photography and videography.  I'm currently rebranding my website (to be published soon) to focus on design and aerial media.

Portage, Michigan. Inlet ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Portage, Michigan. Inlet ©ACD&M 2019

Portage, Michigan. Fall Reflections ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Portage, Michigan. Fall Reflections ©ACD&M 2019

Ionia, Michigan. Canter ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Ionia, Michigan. Canter ©ACD&M 2019

How did you get interested in photography?
I started taking pictures with a 35mm camera around the age of 15. At Western, I took several classes specializing in digital photography and have used what I've learned in both mobile and aerial photography and videography.

Portage, Michigan. Lake Panorama ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Portage, Michigan. Lake Panorama ©ACD&M 2019

Lindau, Germany. Lindau Pier ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Lindau, Germany. Lindau Pier ©ACD&M 2019

How long have you been a photographer?
That's hard to answer. I suppose I have been off and on my entire career. I've only recently focused on it with any real intensity, so I'll say 3 years. 

Venice, Italy. Rialto ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Venice, Italy. Rialto ©ACD&M 2019

Holland, Michigan. After the Storm ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Holland, Michigan. After the Storm ©ACD&M 2019

Cheboygan, Michigan. Fall ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Cheboygan, Michigan. Fall ©ACD&M 2019

What is your favorite place or thing to photograph?
I really enjoy photographing landscapes, geometry in nature, the juxtaposition of natural and manmade. I suppose more importantly, capturing moments of unexpected beauty. A photograph...a well-composed photograph...can not only preserve those fleeting moments where light falls across a landscape or peeks out behind a tree, it can share a new and unique perspective.

Aubrey, Texas. Elevator at Sunset ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Aubrey, Texas. Elevator at Sunset ©ACD&M 2019

Verona, Italy. Verona ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Verona, Italy. Verona ©ACD&M 2019

Verona, Italy. Roman Theatre ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Verona, Italy. Roman Theatre ©ACD&M 2019

Cheboygan, Michigan. Twin Lakes Shoreline ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Cheboygan, Michigan. Twin Lakes Shoreline ©ACD&M 2019

How can photographers be a part of change in the world?
Photographs tell stories. The old cliché that a photograph is worth a thousand words is an understatement. They can evoke emotion, offer truth or a certain perspective. Most importantly, they can provoke action. 

Venice, Italy. Moonlight Busker ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Venice, Italy. Moonlight Busker ©ACD&M 2019

Grand Rapids, Michigan. Autumn Fields ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Grand Rapids, Michigan. Autumn Fields ©ACD&M 2019

Do you have any trips planned for the future, and if so, what are you looking forward to?
I don't have anything specific planned, though I have plenty of destinations in mind. The pacific northwest is one. The raw beauty in that region is something I'd love to explore and capture. I've done some traveling to countries overseas and showing those cultures through photography is an amazing opportunity. I'd love to have that opportunity again. The challenge is to provide truth without context because photographs don't offer sound or smell. This is why I'm interested in exploring video.

Verona, Italy .Ancient City ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Verona, Italy. Ancient City ©ACD&M 2019

Venice, Italy. Spritz ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Venice, Italy. Spritz ©ACD&M 2019

Cheboygan, Michigan. Wild Shoreline ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Cheboygan, Michigan. Wild Shoreline ©ACD&M 2019

Any photography tips you want to share?
The best photography tip I ever received was to use the camera you have. I don't have a DSLR or a high end camera of any type. Before I purchased my first drone, I almost exclusively used my cell phone's camera. The best camera to use is the one you have. 

The second best photography tip I ever received was, learn how to edit. 
Often times I only post 20% of the photographs I take. Composition, lighting, and focus can often be adjusted or corrected with post processing. Still, nothing beats a well taken photograph, which often means taking more photos than you think is necessary.

Venice, Italy. Canal Bridge ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Venice, Italy. Canal Bridge ©ACD&M 2019

Seealpsea, Switzerland. Perspective ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Seealpsea, Switzerland. Perspective ©ACD&M 2019

Gais, Switzerland. Christkringle Markt ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Gais, Switzerland. Christkringle Markt ©ACD&M 2019

 
I currently have a design portfolio at www.aaroncooperdesign.com. You can view my photography at instagram.com/aaroncooperdesignandmedia. I'm currently working on a design/media portfolio site. 

Kalamazoo, Michigan. Crossroads ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Kalamazoo, Michigan. Crossroads ©ACD&M 2019

Dallas, Texas. Downtown Throughfare ©ACD&M 2019. Photographer Aaron Cooper
Dallas, Texas. Downtown Throughfare ©ACD&M 2019

All photos courtesy and copyright Aaron Cooper, used with permission

 

 

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