One of my plans with this blog is to throw a bit of spotlight on some passionate, amateur photographers. To start I’ve reached out to my local photography community and will begin by featuring some locals, but I do hope to expand beyond that, so if you’re an amateur photographer interested, get in touch. Up first we have Billy Stagner, a prolific photographer and organizer of a photowalks group.

Billy, welcome to the blog. Can you start by giving a brief introduction to the readers?

My name is Billy Stagner. I’m from Denver, Colorado. I’m currently an English teacher in Taiwan. I’ve been teaching in Taiwan for about 8 years now.

How long have you been into photography?

I have been into photography for almost two years.

One of my first tries doing long exposure shots with a ten-stop filter. I love the effect of water seeming to be cloudy and transparent.

One of my first tries doing long exposure shots with a ten-stop filter. I love the effect of water seeming to be cloudy and transparent.

What got you started in photography?

I can’t remember who recommended that I try Instagram, but at first I had no interest. But once I downloaded that app, which was just slightly over two years ago, I was immediately hooked. I was only using my smartphone at first, but when I saw the level of photos being posted, and many of them by professional photographers, I just became obsessed with photography and wanted to pursue it more. I wanted to take my cellphone hobby to the next level, and so I bought my first camera a few months after starting my Instagram account.

What kind of camera equipment do you use?

The first camera I bought was the Samsung nx300. After doing some research about cameras, I decided that the Samsung fit my budget and purposes. Soon afterwards, I bought a Canon 650d (Rebel t4i) from a friend. I really enjoyed using both cameras. But recently I have upgraded those two cameras to the Samsung NX500 and the Canon 70D. I’m very happy with both of these cameras and will continue to build on these two systems.

 I love silhouettes. I saw a father playing with his daughter in a grassy area around sunset and tried to catch the moment.

I love silhouettes. I saw a father playing with his daughter in a grassy area around sunset and tried to catch the moment.

This is where I live, so I feel lucky to have this view quite often. It also happens to be a great place to take photos.

This is where I live, so I feel lucky to have this view quite often. It also happens to be a great place to take photos.

What styles / subjects do you feel most comfortable with?

At first, I was shooting everything I saw everywhere I went with little regard to style and aesthetics. I’m not as concerned with developing my own distinctive style as I am with improving my overall knowledge and skills. So I continue to experiment as much as possible and learn as much as I can. I just like photographing everything.

Where do you see your photography going? Will it always be a hobby, or do you hope to make some money from it one day?

I don’t have a definite plan for my photography as of now. I am starting to take it more seriously though, as far as improving my skills, because I think I would like to eventually turn my hobby into something profitable. So I have taken some workshops recently, which have helped a great deal. I also read photo blogs and watch video tutorials.

 I love catching puddle reflections, and since it rains so much in Taiwan, there's no shortage of puddles.

I love catching puddle reflections, and since it rains so much in Taiwan, there’s no shortage of puddles.

One of my favorite shots of Taiwan. The weather gave such an otherworldly feel to the landscape.

One of my favorite shots of Taiwan. The weather gave such an otherworldly feel to the landscape.

Are there any challenges you face when taking photos?

I certainly have learned that I have a long way to go before I get to the level where I want to be. There are many areas where I need vast improvement. I am still learning to see light and use it properly and creatively. I often finish with a subject and move on only to think of something later that I wish I had done, so I need to learn how to be more creative and think outside the box so to speak. This might be my biggest challenge right now. Another area I need to learn about is post processing.

Is there anything else you wish to add?

I am thoroughly enjoying photography and am very grateful for Instagram. I’ve developed many friendships with likeminded individuals through that app and I’ve also learned quite a lot from other photographers who also use Instagram. I’m looking forward to each lesson learned from here on out and I’ll continue to just have lots of fun shooting.

I can be found on Instagram, @taiwanbilly and @billycstagner and on Facebook at taiwanbillyphoto

The man on the left seemed to pose for me just for this shot. He walked towards me, then just stopped and stood in that spot for a while. That helped make this shot more interesting.

The man on the left seemed to pose for me just for this shot. He walked towards me, then just stopped and stood in that spot for a while. That helped make this shot more interesting.

I'll never get tired of shooting sunsets. This time I just happened to bring along a starfish to play with.

I’ll never get tired of shooting sunsets. This time I just happened to bring along a starfish to play with.

That brings to a close the first posting in The Amateurs Series. Let me know if you are a hobbyist photographer and would like to be featured. Don’t forgot to visit Billy’s links and give him a follow. Here they are again.

Instagram – @taiwanbilly and @billycstagner . Facebook – taiwanbillyphoto