If you had to describe your overall photographic vision in 25 words or less, what words would you choose?
Creating predominantly minimal black and white images from subjects that I’m drawn to often utilizing long exposures.
Why are you so drawn to long exposure photography?
There is a truly magical process going on as minutes of time are recorded onto a single image. You’re creating an alternative reality. A surreal image– as by it’s very nature it’s something the naked eye cannot see. You are simplifying a scene by smoothing those elements in motion, namely clouds and water and thereby makings the images more minimal. This gives prominence to your chosen subject by losing surrounding distractions, so you can use this effect to draw the eye to the point of interest.
Why do you prefer black and white photography?
Black and white is a step away from reality which frees you to move further away. Stripping away the colour allows shapes, lines and textures to be clearly seen. Significant tonal changes in post processing can still look convincing in black and white. Not necessarily realistic but convincing. To what degree you adjust is highly subjective and part of the enjoyment. You have these decisions to make with each image. So each image feels like a very personal creation.
Who are three of your favorite photographers, and, more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
Bill Brandt was one of the first black and white photographers that I remember really making an impression on me. I’m going back 30 odd years to the days when I used a 35mm SLR usually with Kodachrome. I’d not really taken much notice of black and white until then. I was particularly struck by his moody images of industrial towns in northern England. Living in northern England and studying Chemical Engineering at the time gave them particular resonance for me.
I’ve great admiration for Michael Kenna‘s images. So often there’s an elegance and simplicity in his work that’s very appealing. Such a great eye for a balanced composition.
For my last pick I’m going to choose Joel Tjintjelaar. Joel, for me, epitomizes the new breed of photographers who are emerging out of the online communities. His digital skills are exceptional and he’s achieving great recognition and success. He has developed his own style and vision and has forged a path that many have followed and is a real inspiration.
What artistic influences, outside of photography, have had a significant influence on how you approach your photography (for example, painters, filmmakers, musicians, poets, etc.)?
I’m not sure if I can pinpoint any specific influences in my photography, but I do enjoy discovering new and creative work especially in photography, music and movies. I think if you have that desire to seek out creativity it manifests itself in a desire to be creative in your own work.
What are your thoughts about trying to find the best gear possible versus working on making the best possible image with the gear you already have?
I don’t look at an image and wonder about the quality of the equipment it was taken with. Why would that matter if it’s a great image? Particularly with minimal images I don’t think they live or die by differences in resolution or the difference in sharpness between lenses. It’s the creativity within the image that counts. I can understand why traditional landscape photographers who endeavor to record every tiny detail and maybe have plans to make very large prints do need those qualities. For the sort of photography I do I’m still happy with the modest equipment I have.
How would you define fine art? Is it just a label?
I don’t try to define it at all. I don’t think about it and don’t go out with the thought of trying to achieve it. I just create images of things that interest me and process them in a way that pleases me. If I’m happy with the result then I hope others like it too. Those images may or may not be art in the eye of the beholder. However, in creating them I feel that it’s an artistic pursuit I’m involved in.
If you had to come up with one very important lesson that you think every photographer needs to learn, what would it be?
Be influenced and inspired, but take your own images. Develop your own interests and be authentic. Whilst flattering to the original artist, I don’t like seeing almost exact copies and just can’t see the satisfaction in it, nor do I see where someone is coming from.
What are your thoughts about the benefits of online sharing? Are there any particular social media or image sharing sites you prefer or do not prefer?
It’s great to share and feel part of an online community. and to get feedback and to admire and comment on the work of fellow photographers. It can concentrate your mind and help raise your standard just knowing it will be viewed by your peers. The problem recently for me has been the difficulty in keeping in touch with it all. It takes so much time which you don’t always have. I restrict myself to Flickr and G+ these days and find that it is as much as I can keep up with.
What photographic cliché or common photography question, if any, irritates you the most?
Most people taking photographs are genuinely excited by the images they create –and you have to respect that, so I’m not dismissive of what might be a cliché. I just wouldn’t take any interest in it.
If you were stranded on an island, and you could have one camera, one lens, one filter, one tripod, two books, and ten CDs, what would they be and why?
Well you know already I’m not an equipment snob, so any modern DSLR would be good for me, whatever it’s quirks I’d get used to it. If only one lens, it would have to be a zoom with a useful range starting at wide angle. A 10 stop ND filter. A lightweight but sturdy carbon fiber tripod so I can take long exposures.
Most of my reading these days is browsing the web; I intend to enjoy the luxury of book reading again when I have more time. Then I will read lots of music biographies.
I did a list starting with Kind Of Blue and ended up with a lot of the usual suspects: all stuff that I love but not really feeling personal. Anyhow, I ditched that list for an alternative selection of stuff I love and would be quite happy to take to an island.
- Faust – IV
- Can – Future Days
- Television – Marquee Moon
- The Cure – Faith
- King Crimson – Discipline
- Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One
- Tortoise – TNT
- Porcupine Tree – Deadwing
- King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine
- Wire – Red Barked Tree
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
I tend not to look too far ahead and will continue to pursue the themes I’ve been exploring. The sea will always be a strong pull because of growing up and living on the coast most of my life. There has been an industrial thread running through my work for a long time– and I expect that to continue.
Is there any specific place that you would like to visit to take photos?
Like most long exposure photographers there is an appeal in the images I’ve seen created in Iceland, so it would be great to visit first hand and try my own take on that landscape. I love Michael Kenna‘s images of the Rouge— and that sort of heavily industrialized area interests me. We have a vast industrial area locally at Teesside, UK, but it’s just hard to get close to these places with fences and security.
Is there anything else you wish to add?
Thanks for asking me to take part in this series, Nathan. I am truly honored as I have great admiration for the work of the artists you’ve already asked to take part. I’d also like to express my appreciation for the work you’ve done in creating this outlet for other photographers.
Spotlight on Three Images
All of my images are processed in Capture NX2 and then Silver Efex Pro. I have a workflow that I’m
familiar with but don’t have the power of Photoshop and it’s selections. At some point I will invest
in and start using Photoshop and that may have an effect on the end results of my images. However I’ve
been happy working with the tools I have and knowing what you can and can’t achieve focuses the mind.