Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of a professional photographer is like? Wonder no more! As often as we can, we ask a top-notch 500px photographer to document a day at work — be that in the field, in the studio, or both.

From paragliding madmen photographers to incredible portraitists, they share an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at their shooting schedule and techniques in the field.

This week, we’re taking a trip to the photography Mecca known as Patagonia with talented photographer and 500px co-founder Evgeny Tchebotarev. Hope you’re ready for an early wake-up call though… his alarm goes off at 3:40am.


Who I Am, What I Do, and What I Shoot With

Name: Evgeny Tchebotarev, or “ET” for short.

Occupation: Entrepreneur and amateur photographer

Where I Live: The freezing cold Toronto, Canada

What I Shoot With: I try to keep my photo set pretty simple, but I still ended up owning a few cameras. My go-to set fits nicely in a Mindshift rotation180° Panorama backpack:

When I don’t need 36 megapixels or I want to achieve beautiful bokeh, I’ll switch to this set:

However, I’m very equipment agnostic. I also own Sony NEX-6, and have a mouth-watering wish list that includes a Sony A7s and a nice little Pentax 645Z, for the time when I will be able to afford dropping 9 grand on a body.

Subjects I Enjoy Shooting The Most: I’m fascinated by two subjects at the moment: landscapes and female portraits. I’ve got my best works up at my 500px portfolio.

However, there are two more things that I’d love to do but haven’t had a good enough chance to explore and push myself in yet: a) classical black and white photography, where I need to learn from scratch about tones, composition, structure and b) street/journalism photography. I traveled to Cuba and Tibet where I had a chance to explore the lives of regular people, but I feel that I haven’t touched more than 1%, and a whole world is there to explore.

A Day in the Life of Evgeny Tchebotarev

I’m not a morning person, but I make an effort to wake up at before 8am every day, even on weekends. I think there are no “night owls” or “morning larks”, but simply a power of habit or a will. However, when I’m shooting landscapes, my day usually starts at 4am, and ends around midnight. Sometimes, doing that for a week will cause hallucinations and weird sleep patterns.

Here’s what my day looked like in Patagonia when I arrived to shoot Torres del Paine National Park for a few days this past December.

3:40 A.M. The alarm jerks me out of a light and uneasy sleep. It’s hard to fall asleep knowing that your wake up call is just a few hours away. I roll over to the other side of the bed and try to wake up. My head is buzzing. I packed up all my equipment yesterday, so I just need to splash some cold water on my face and pretend to function.

4 A.M. We are gathering at the small bus that will take us to a sunrise spot. It’s a grumpy tight group of people who haven’t even had a chance to drink coffee yet. We drive to the spot, and leave the car. I take a step… then another. The wind is so strong that, after a couple of minutes walking to the spot, I’m probably only 4-5 meters away from the car.

Around 10 minutes later we make maybe 50 more meters, with about 400 meters left to cover. With no wind this would take maybe 5 minutes, but with strong powerful winds we can’t move faster than a few steps a minute. We turn back, getting almost thrown back into the car by winds. We’ll drive to a different location.

5 A.M. We make it to the second spot. It’s windy, but at least we settle. The sunrise should begin in just a few moments. It’s raining, even though there are no clouds above us. There are some dark clouds in the distance, maybe 4-5 kilometers away, but the wind brings that rain to us. It’s cold, so I’m dressed similarly to how I would dress for -20°C back in Toronto. It’s the wind that gets you. My hands get red and dry as soon as I take off my mittens.

6 A.M. Finally, after an hour of waiting, we get the sun. It’s arriving late, delayed by the storm clouds, but the image we get is worth it. It’s amazing to see it with my own eyes, and the camera captures it quite nicely too. It was worth it… well-worth it. I’m struggling to clean the raindrops off the lens and keep shooting, basically repeating the same frame over and over again, capturing the changing light.

7 A.M. We pack and move to the new spot. The light is less impressive now, so we just finish with a few more shots and I challenge myself to shoot a 25-minute time-lapse that is compressed into 12 seconds of video.

8 A.M. We are back at the hotel. Breakfast, repacking, cleaning, charging. We’ll move out again around 10 am.

10 A.M. We pack and move out. We have a 2-hour drive ahead of us, so I take a nap.

12 P.M. The bus arrives outside of the park, where we have few items on the agenda — photograph semi-wild horses running through the fields with magnificent backdrop of Torres del Paine in the back. Whenever you see some amazing surreal photos — with horses, or with old man, or with an old woman in Cuba — it’s all staged. You have to pay to get the shot, so this is similar to cheating. I’m not proud of that, and I never hide that information.

We also get to pick the horses, so we decide to make it look more natural, by picking 2 white, 2 brown and 1 black horse. They will run for us half a dozen times to help us capture a perfect shot.

1 P.M. We haven’t scouted the location yet, so a few guys leave to drive around for the best spot.

2 P.M. While we are waiting for the arrangement, my friend and I hop on the horse, so that we can get to the location on a horse. It’s more challenging than it looks, but I like using any opportunity to learn something new.

3 P.M. Finally we move on to location and then spend an hour shooting. I use telephoto 70-200 to get the tight shot above, but first few tries are not good. Horses move erratically, and tend to venture off on their own. Getting them back on track takes time. I get tired of holding heavy camera with the lens, so I shoot with one knee on the ground. Finally, near the end, we all got a frame or two that we are satisfied with. We wrap it up and head for a dinner.

4 P.M. The family that owns the farm is finishing up cooking a full lamb on the open flame, so I venture around the farm and shoot simple arrangements — cat, house, furniture in the rooms, old car, and the farm itself.

5 P.M. We are heading back. Everyone is feeling refreshed, but we exhausted a lot of energy. We have a sunset to shoot ahead of us. It’s around 9-10pm, but since we are in the mountainous area, the sun will set a bit earlier.

7 P.M. We are back to the hotel. Some are having a light snack and getting ready to move to a different location. I’m feeling a bit tired, so I repack everything again, drop a few heavy lenses that I think I won’t need, and decide that in an hour or so I’ll head out on a little island that the hotel is on, in search of good sunset spot.

8 P.M. The hotel has Internet, but being so remote means the channel is very weak, so you can barely check email. No question on even trying to upload any of the photos. I still manage to post one on Instagram after trying for about half an hour, and, after checking the watch, head out.

9 P.M. The clouds have moved over the mountains. The winds are still strong, so everything is moving quickly; making a perfect setting for a time-lapse. But the light is not the greatest, so I experiment with Big Stopper and some longer exposures instead. It’s windy and the image I get is a bit blurry. I finish up with a few photos that have soft blue-hour tonality, and call it a day.

10 P.M. Back to my room. Chatting with my friend, we are downloading all the photos to laptops and try to sift through gigabytes of similar looking photos. However, if I don’t do it right on the spot, it’s incredibly hard to find patience or time to go through them at a later time. I flag, star, and reject as many photos as I can.

11 P.M. Before I go to bed, I set up the alarm on my iPhone for 4 am. We are lucky to get 30 min of sleep, because we are leaving at 4:30 am tomorrow. We have a 6-hour drive ahead of us, so we might get some sleep on the bus. It’s going to be a long day.

To see more of Evgeny’s work, check out his 500px, visit his portfolio website, or give him a follow on Facebook and Twitter.