I’m 35, I’m born and raised in Newcastle upon Tyne, England and came late to the photography business. I’m currently part time photographer and still doing another full time job. I live a busy old life, as most of us do these days, I have a hugely understanding wife, nearly 2 kids (April for the second arrival). I love to be busy so I suppose this is the way it goes.
For me art has never been my strong point and I’ve been repeated been told that. I remember at the age of 14 getting my brother to do my art homework as I just couldn’t get my ideas down in to what I wanted. So while the imagination was there, the skills were not. It wasn’t until I started travelling and carrying my camera with me did I find an outlet for that and a love for scenic settings.
Seeing your remarkable work, I am curious where your creativity comes from?
I love the word creativity, it means so many things to so many people, in my other line of work I use my creativity to design and work out how to do things better. However, I have always loved the way light fell through windows and how people can portray different personalities. Most of all I love capturing the emotion of a moment, seeing into their eyes and capturing just a little bit of their soul.
Could you share with us how you first became interested in photography?
Well, years ago, I travelled a crazy amount, and unfortunately during my early days I never took a camera with me. Then as I got a little older I started taking one round the globe with me. From there, it gradually intensified and I started being asked to cover sporting photography (having a love for basketball this was easy to get an invite). Then into American football. From there it was onto the first DSLR (when all I wanted was a faster camera). Which then lead to me getting my first nifty 50 lens and wow, what a difference that made in terms of me wanting to move in this direction. After a while multiple friends encouraged me to take myself a little more seriously (not that I ever need an excuse) and it moved on from there and I started a longer term plan. .
What equipment are you using now and with what did you get started? what is your favorite lens?
Well the first camera I had was a Fujifilm 1.3Mp point and shoot with a 10x optical zoom, with 4*AA batteries that might have lasted 20 shots. Years later after a good few bridge cameras and as I wanted originally to shoot sport when I first bought a DSLR I went to a sony set up and have stuck with that ever since. Currently I’m shooting with an Sony A77 and newly acquired A99. Favourite lens is a tough one, My work horse has been for the last year has been my 24-70 F2.8. I’ve also recently got a new addition to the family of the 70-200 F2.8, but for favourite lens would have to be my 50mm 1.8, it was impulse buy, but create such beautiful portraits, even if it was very cheap.
Can you tell us about your work flow from the point you first step onto the street until you showcase the developed picture?
My work starts way before I hit the street, The routes are walked, the light is watched to see which direction it will fall, then from there pinterest boards are shared to create an impression of a similar look so then I can improvise from there. The shoot itself starts with getting to know the person a little more, as there is no point going into a cold shoot, spend 5 mins shooting and talking through a few things then shoot, watch it adapt the shoot and then once I get home, it’s a case of getting a backup, cleaning, checking gear, packing it all away then into the processing. The reason I do this then, is so that if something comes up last minute. I can grab my bag and go, no need to check anything. The next step is short listing the photos. A first cut, then second, then third. Then move onto a basic edit, before moving into the really detailed work. Once I’ve done the colour edit, then look to see a black and white or tonal ranges should be changed. I prefer not to over edit and do as much as I can in camera. So while everyone loves a brilliant blue sky I prefer the giant softbox of continuous white skies teamed up with one big reflector for best effect.
Do you see a particular influence, be it a photographer or school on your work? Any subject that attracts you?
Being new to this game, I’ve gone from knowing nothing to knowing just a little more than nothing. I would say from an influence I love Dani Diamonds (his editing is truly breath taking), the way Peter Coulson uses just one light on a lot of shots, and I love some of the dance photography from Henry Leutwyler and a relatively unknown photographer called Sibo Sibomana (his street photography is just something amazing). However I must admit, I gain a lot of inspiration from Instagram, its just there all the time, you just need to cut through the junk. One of my photography bucket lists was to do a shoot with a ballerina, I’ve done that once now and I loved the results, so we’re working on another shoot soon.
What would you say characterizes your work in comparison to other photographers?
This is probably the hardest question to answer, I would have to say, it comes down to the personal rapport that works on behind the camera and then that transpires to the photo. Its all about the moment and style, while conveying the emotion or the “look”. When the chemistry works between the model and the photographer something extraordinary can be produced, instead of just another great technical photo.
I’ve got a handful of photos that are all up there in my favourites, I think one of my earliest, and longest standing would be a Rock the Frock in a cornfield, I’d had this idea after watching gladiator when Russell Crowe is walking through the field with his fingers touching the grass. “wouldn’t it be cool to get a bride doing that?” well I was on the shoot and the girl went “I’ve always loved cornfields”. So we drove about five mins up the road and after a little walk through the field there we go. It was shot on my stock lens when I was just starting out. The next is one of the first images I ever took with my nifty fifty, and is of a death stare. I swapped lenses to my newly bought fixed 50mm at an American football game to capture a huddle.
Two of my favourite recent sets have been of a hopeful in Miss GB and My first set of Ballerina photos. For miss GB Hopeful the one of her in a hat in the middle of the street, the lighting was so perfect and her mother was standing just off camera holding the reflector, it just gives such a perfect light in her eyes. This is one of those photos that has so minimal editing on, I could have almost have published without a tweak. My ballerina set was the first time in a studio, so not technically street fashion, but hey you asked on the favourite photos. I was constantly playing with the lights but loved every minute, the goal was to capture three words, strength, beauty and peace, all three were accomplished and then move on.
I also have a passion for shooting headshots as it gets in close and really picks up the eyes in shots, without any other distractions.
Well I’ve nearly fell off a pier (that taught me to always check what is behind me when stepping backward or get a backstop). I was walking backward down a pier with a bride walking towards me. Until I nearly lost my footing and went over the edge.
The first time I had the question from my wife of “where did she get changed?”. I was standing in a field with barley at waist height with the model ducking down hiding in the barely to get changed. After that you kind of get used to it. So you know what to expect.
What would you tell a newcomer who asks for your advice on how to start?
However hard you think you need to work, you’re probably underestimating it by 5 fold. It’s not an 9-5, yes it might be a more flexible career (but read 24/7). I’d also say you don’t need to go out and spend a fortune on gear. Shoot and maximise the camera you can afford, only buy something new when you can’t do it with your current camera, it means you get the most out of your gear all the time and it trains you to not be lazy which then makes you a better photographer. I’d also say, 9 times out of 10, the person on the other side of the camera is more nervous that you are, so stop worrying about it and get on with it, but with a big caveat stay humble.