We are so excited to introduce Mado to the AOV community. He shared his advice with us along with the new editing tools he created.
My name is Mado El Khouly, and I’m a photographer and visual artist based in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
How did you become a photographer?
It feels strange sometimes calling myself a photographer since my photography journey only started in April 2016 after picking up my girlfriend’s Nikon D3100. My life at the time was stressful, and photography became my escape.
It didn’t take me long to fall in love with photography. The concept of expressing my thoughts and emotions through an image is amazing. It’s addicting! I always have this urge to constantly go out and create new content. There were times that I declined offers to see friends and instead sat at home and taught myself Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.
Tell me about your favorite recent image, what went into capturing that image?
My favorite recent photo would have to be the foggy night at Vancouver. I’ve always wanted to capture the Vancouver skyline below the fog from above. Vancouver had a long foggy week, so I rented a 70-200mm lens and went up the local mountains to shoot that skyline. It wasn’t as I expected it. The entire city was below the fog, so I struggled capturing the “perfect” composite. I didn’t give up though. It was foggy in the city, and I was outside already. I spent 5 hours driving around chasing traffic lights in the fog. Finally, on the way back home, after I had given up hope, I came across this intersection. I was like a little kid coming down the stairs on Christmas day to unwrap my Christmas gift. That’s how I felt when I saw the shadows the trees were creating. That’s what I love about Photography.
Do you have tips & tricks you have used in your creative pursuits that you would like to share with the AOV photography community?
If you’re a beginner photographer, aperture priority is your best friend! You’ll find a lot of photographers that tell you to use manual mode (which you eventually should), but it’s overwhelming at first. Aperture priority helped me understand how the camera works when I first started.
If you’re a photographer that has been shooting for some time now, don’t be afraid to experiment with new different types of photography. I’ve been known to do a lot of Photoshop and visual art work with my photos, but recently I’ve been drawn to urban and street photography.
Finally, regardless of what level of photographer you are, I would advise you to go out and shoot with different photographers from time to time. It really does help with the inspiration flow, and you will end up learning new tips and tricks from each other. Most importantly though, HAVE FUN! It’s not a competition. Don’t be afraid to express yourself.
On the editing front there are a few things that I consistently do.
1. Shoot in RAW. I’ve played around with Lightroom and Photoshop enough times to know that JPEG can’t be manipulated as RAW.
2. Be patient! Don’t force yourself to stay up to perfect a photo. Save your progress, get some rest, and get back to it. I promise you’ll see things from a new perspective and will be able to fix things up in the end.
3. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Don’t get caught up editing a photo in a certain way because it matches your “theme.” Try something different. You may end up loving it more.
4. Music, snacks, and a drink. Most of my presets are named after song titles. In all seriousness though, you can easily get caught up in the editing process, so it’s important to take care of your body too.
What is your favorite photography and outdoor gear?
I used a Nikon D7200 as a body for about a year. I had a Sigma F3.5 10-20mm. That was my go to lens. Once you go wide, you can’t go back. It really is a different perspective. My second go to lens was my 50mm F1.8. This lens is cheap but sharp! I’ve just ordered a Sony A7Riii, that I’ll be receiving in the New Year, so I’m super stoked for that.
I have a SLIK PRO 700DX tripod that I use. It’s heavy but sturdy. I’ll be upgrading that once I pick up the Sony for a lighter tripod.
I do a lot of hiking and walking around the city for long periods of time, I just a Peak Design Capture clip to mount my gear on either my belt or bag strap.
Why did you create this set of presets?
I created my first preset when I noticed that I’ve started editing most of my photos in a same way. It was an unnamed daytime preset. I then altered it to create a nighttime version of it. That was it. I only had two presets that I constantly used.
I never thought I’d be selling my presets because I didn’t know how I felt about others having similar looks to their images as mine. However, recently, I’ve witnessed a few people on Instagram that were bullied for creating content that were similar to other photographers. There was a lot of negativity and hatred that was passed around, and that got to me.
I thought about it. If someone was creating content that was similar to mine, I’d be honoured and humbled for inspiring them to do so. As a result, I’ve created this preset pack for the photographers out there that are inspired to have the same look and feel as I do on most of my photography work.
What do we get with your preset pack?
Lotus – My signature daytime preset. Very warm and moody vibes that works amazing on daytime, sunrise and sunset atmospheres. It’ll bring up the blues and oranges.
Opus – The dark side of Lotus. If you enjoy the colours that come out in Lotus but wish you had it darker and moodier, this is your guy! It’ll darken those urban rainy shots you took during rush-hour.
Atlas – The Magenta of my presets. If you enjoy Magenta sunrises and sunsets, this is for you. It’s subtle but packs a punch.
Gastown – My signature nighttime preset. When the city is glowing with lights, but you want to dim it down just a wee bit, this this your go to preset. It’s vibrant yet dark. Quiets down the yellows and focuses on the blues.
Gravity – The responsible student. This preset fixes your nighttime exposure problems.It produces subtle colours but keeps the photo sharp. Has a subtle moody feel to it that compliments the final result.