Q&A

-How did you first becoming interested in photography?

Like many, I was introduced to the world of photography at college but it wasn’t until digital photography became affordable that my interest really took off. Also, a friend had taken it up, so together we became better friends. Doing well in competitions encouraged me in the early years. With passing time, my photography has advanced from a mere interest into a love, then a passion which continues to grow almost daily.

-What words best describe your style of photography?

There’s no single style but long–exposure is central to most of my work. I love to experiment and develop ideas. I like to think people never know what to expect from me next – to convey an element of surprise. If I were to settle on a particular style it would likely be long–exposure black and white fine art photography. Thankfully there are plenty more styles yet to explore.

-Is there a theme or concept that runs throughout all of your work?

In short, dramatic – creative – eclectic. When you stop to look, there is subtle drama in even the simplest of scenes, it just needs bringing out. I like to capture drama in a wide range of settings – indoors and out, urban and rural, macro and distant, colour and mono – with minimalist blending and balance that simply appeals.

-How much planning goes into one of your shoots?

I’m not a person who goes in for much planning, in life as well as photography! But I do get up ridiculously early or stay awake late to catch weather conditions and tide times for optimal landscape, seascape, dawn and dusk shots. I plan shoots in bad weather especially for the drama, and mentally plan processing strategies.

-What is your post-production workflow like?

I have no real post–processing prescription. A lot is done using Lightroom for global editing of the usual stuff: corrections to exposure, contrast, white balance, sharpening, and all the other adjustments that Lightroom does so well. But during that phase the graphic designer side of me might wonder – will this photo work best as it is? Or maybe if I did this? Or that? Then I switch to Photoshop or Affinity and tackle answers to those questions.

If I feel I want to stay quite true to the original, then I might just do some dodging, burning and the necessary spot removal. Or I might feel inspired to let my imagination run wild – to change the real world and create something unique to myself. Whichever, the workflow is governed by the art, not the reverse, so the feeling is conveyed truthfully.

-What is your dream project?

If money were no object and I had all the time in the world, one dream project would be to photograph rusting old shipwrecks (above the waterline!) in my favourite style – minimal, black and white. My dream location would have to be Japan where winters are ideal for that genre with good scenic scope too. For now, I’m more than happy with the endless opportunities the West Country has to offer.

-What is your creative process like? What are you start, middle and end points?

I’m usually inspired with a basic idea of what I want to achieve. Sometimes a quick paper sketch (a graphic design habit) helps with the more abstract compositions. Then it’s a matter of going out shooting, selecting material to work with, and letting the image itself determine the post-processing. That may take several iterations. Near the end, I decide whether it’s good enough to keep and do the finishing touches.

-What is your top tip for long-exposure photography?

This will sound obvious but my top tip is to ensure your batteries are fully charged. Nothing drains a battery so fast as long–exposures, and nothing ends a photo shoot faster than a dead one. Also, do whatever you can to minimise or eradicate camera movement: find a sheltered spot or use your body as a windbreak; on a soft surface or sandy beach find three large stones to stand your tripod on.

-What is your approach to exposing for night photography?

Firstly, take the lens cap off (you only make that mistake once)! I take test shots using approximate exposure time and camera settings that I think will give the effect I’m looking for, then tweak things for optimum results. There’s a lot of trial and error, and waiting around for unfolding skyscape events.

-What was the best career advice you were ever given?

My old design tutor once said, “Everything has been done before.” That was before the digital revolution but even so, by experimentation and creativity anyone can lend photography a unique personal twist without resorting to imitation.

I abide by a piece of advice I was recently given: “If the weather’s shite, go black and white.”