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An Alpha on The Move – Sony Alpha Ambassador Pat Kay

As an award-winning travel photographer, Pat Kay’s mission is to document the unique encounters that spontaneously occur. Pat simply thrives in these unpredictable moments, keeping his eyes open and Sony Alpha mirrorless camera ready for action. We speak to Pat and find out the secrets of his success.

What does travel photography mean to you?

To me, photography is a means to tell visual stories. It is an opportunity to share a perspective, to evoke emotion, or spark a thought. It allows me to document my life, so I can look back on it in the future and share it with anyone who wants to be a part of that journey. I chose to specialize in travel photography as it mirrors real life in its unpredictability and spontaneity—it’s also a great opportunity to discover what’s out there in the world.

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Alpha 7R IV | FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM | 35mm | 1/400s | F2.8 | ISO640

What is in your camera bag?

I aim to be as nimble as possible in the field, so I use the Alpha 7R IV with a mix of Sony G Master zoom and prime lenses. 

The FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM and FE 85mm F1.4 GM lenses are always in my bag. I rely on these two G Master lenses, as they offer fast autofocus speed, incredible resolution across the frame and true-to-life colours.

Most travel photographers travel with a 24-70mm zoom, however I believe that using unconventional focal lengths introduces healthy creative tension. It forces a fresh perspective and helps me tell a unique travel story. So, it’s not uncommon to see me shooting landscapes on the FE 85mm F1.4 GM, and portraits on FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM, for example. 

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Alpha 7R IV | FE 24mm F1.4 GM | 24mm | 1/640s | 1.4 | ISO1600

Speaking of portraits, I just love the Real-time Eye AF of the Alpha 7R IV. It locates and gains focus on the eye instantaneously, so I can concentrate on being creative with the framing without worrying about failing to nail focus.

What are you looking for when you are out on shoot?

I’m looking for ways to tell unique stories in the simplest, clearest way possible, and always with a strong subject and high visual contrast. Usually, that manifests itself in a minimal aesthetic style.

My images from a recent trip to Uluru are a good example of this approach. Rather than filling the frame with the famous Ayers Rock, I chose to unconventionally compose for a wider frame taking in more of the sky. Doing so provides clarity of subject and also allows me to accentuate just how grand and unique this destination is—the never-ending, star-spangled night sky against leviathan of Ayers Rock in the vast Australian outback.

Colour is also an important theme to explore in my work as well. The warm, orange hue of Ayers Rock in constant contrast with the ever-changing cool blue hues of the skies above were visually interesting to me, and were beautifully captured by the Alpha 7R IV and Sony G Master lenses. 

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Alpha 7R IV | FE 85mm F1.4 GM | 85mm | 1/160s | F4 | ISO100

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Alpha 7R IV | FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM | 12mm | 1/1250s | F18 | ISO500

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Alpha 7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | 20mm | 1/1250s | F18 | ISO100

How does Sony’s mirrorless system benefit you for your work?

I choose the Sony Alpha 7R IV because it’s compact and light – simply the perfect travel camera. The NP-FZ100 type battery has incredible long battery life so I can shoot all day and not worry about running out of power. The fast autofocus and the intelligence of the camera’s Real-time Eye AF is confidence-inspiring, helping me capture tack sharp images.  Most importantly, the 61-megapixel sensor produces the best image quality you can get in a mirrorless camera, period.

How can you sum up your experience with Sony?

Travel photography is unpredictable, so I need a system that has solid fundamentals. Sony Alpha system’s 5 fundamentals of image quality, speed, extensive lens line-up, long battery life, and ergonomics takes care of all the technical details so I can focus on being creative. 

Unique moments in travel photography are fleeting but with Sony, I have every confidence of spotting and capturing them – beautifully.