Practical Photography Q&A

There are some moments in history that stick in your mind forever, and the moment I received an email from the Features Editor at Practical Photography magazine will surely be something I remember for a very long time.

It started back in January, when I was sent a Facebook message from the Deputy Editor at Practical Photography Magazine, he had seen my work on the Facebook group "Practical Photography Talk" and wanted to feature a couple of my ICM images in their "10 clicks" section. This in itself was a massive personal acheivement, having had a pipe dream since starting photography to be printed in a magazine. I of course jumped at the oppurtunity and two of my ICM images from the Expressionism collection went into print in the March 2019 issue - "Eye of the Door (2018)" and "Bournemouth Pier (2018)" as well as a little bit of text about me and why I shoot ICM. View cutting

Shortly after finalising the 10Clicks feature (and before it even went to print!) came the email from the Features Editor...

I saw your image in the 10Clicks feature and thought you’d be perfect for a new feature that’s recently been put into place. It’s called Reader Showcase and it’s a 6 page interview that showcases your work and includes a Q&A.

Practical Photography Features Editor, Jan 2019

I'm not going to lie, I had to read that email a few times before it really sunk it what was being offered - a SIX page feature in one of the countries leading photography magazines? Umm, yes please!

Reader Showcase, Practical Photography Magazine, Spring 2019 Issue View cutting

Q: How and when did you first become interested in photography?
A: I've always been interested in photography to some degree, but I only started to take it seriously in my adult life after being inspired by photos of my local county of Dorset. I (somewhat naively) shrugged these of as being 'in the right place at the right time', but I soon realised that you have to put yourself in that position - it doesn't just happen by magic. It was this moment of revelation that set me on a course to start chasing sunrises and sunsets all over the country. I love shooting landscapes, as they're never the same. There's always something new to find and different, exciting ways to shoot it.

Q: How do you find your locations?
A: So far, my photography hasn't really taken me too far off the beaten track, so my methods for finding locations are all quite orthodox. I usually leaf through location guides or old fashioned walking books. I also find Google Earth and Street View indredible tools for finding great places to shoot. I think my favourite location has to be Corfe Castle, even if it is a little cliched. It's the remains of a 1000-year-old castle, billed as one of Britain's most iconic and evocative survivors of the English Civil War. When seend under the right conditions it can take your breath away.

Q: What's the best piece of photography advice you've ever received?
A: "Twelve significant photographys in any one year is a good crop". I'm sure almost all landscape photographers will recognise the words of Ansel Adams. In the modern age of social networking it's very easy to snap, share and quickly forget images in the pursuit of continiously creating new photos for our digital audiences. If I can look back on my photos at the end of the year and pick out 12 that I'm genuinely happy with, then I think I'm doing alright.

Q: How much planning do you do for your shoots?
I think planning is one of the most crucial parts of any successful image, especially in landscapes. While you might get lucky and be set up just in time for a beautiful piece of light of pierce through a dark storm cloud, it's not likely. A great example is the classic "eye of the door" shot - a photo that shows the sun rising through the infamous Durdle Door rock arch on the Jurassic Coast. Hundreds of photographers visit the site each year to see the spectacle, and there's lots of planning involved. Logistics such as the weather, how long it takes to drive, park, walk down, set up and what time the sun is going to rise are all very important factors in being able to capture a winning shots of the phenomenon you want to shoot. I actually have a growing list of planned ideas that are just waiting for the right conditions.

Q: What kit do you use?
I have a relatively small kit bag containing a Canon 5D Mk III, a Canon 24-105 f/4 IS L lens and a couple of Lee filters. Every image in my portfolio was taken with this setup, expect for the Red Arrows shot, for which I borrowed a 150-600mm. Really, this shows that you don't have to have endless piles of camera bodies and expensive lenses to be able to create beautiful photos.

Q: How much editing do you tend to do?
I know some people love editing and others loathe it. I've found that my most successful images have been those that I've processed meticulously, spending hours gettnig the colours right and tidying up cluttered details. There are so many incredibly powerful software tools at our disposal, I think we'd really be missing a trick if we didn't try to utilise them to their fullest.

Q: Why did you start expirimenting with Intentional camera movement?
As I'm only a few years into my photography, I'd say I'm still finding my feet and every day is a new opportunity to learn. I'm very open to trying new things and pushing boundaries, so I was excited to try combining intentional camera movement (ICM) and multiple exposures. I was first introduced to this idea after seeing a piece of work by Neil Burnell. His image represented the familiar in an abstract way, and kept details and structures within the frame rather than showing a totally abstract end result. I love the idea of using the camera as a brush, with the movements of your hands being represented as motion in the final shot. You can portray smooth, calm ripples or rugged, harsh pikes by the way you move the camera, so it's like opening up a whole new toy box of creatively. Best of all, you can go out and take ICM shots no matter what the weather is doing - even on a grey, overcast morning or in torrential rain.

Q: Have you ever had a nightmare shoot?
Absolutely. I visited Highclere Castle with the family a few years ago, hoping to snap some shots for the album. At the time I had a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8, but when I picked up my kit bag from the floor I realised too late that I'd forgotten to zip it up. The lens fell three feet to the concrete path below and the front element was damaged beyond repair.

Q: What's your best story from a shoot?
When the Beast from the East covered the south coast in snow in Match 2018, I was keen to explore and witness the bizarre sights of summer beach hotspots covered in a thick later of snow. I set my sights on Durdle Door, as I thought this would be the most impressive contrast. I drive a 4x4, so my car didn't have any issues getting to the car park, but unfortunately the same couldn't be said for my legs. The walk down the steep hill proved too much for me, and I lost count of the amout of times I fell over. It was worth the bruises and scratches in the end.

Q: What do you do when you're hit with bad weather?
This actually happens way more often than I let people know about. I have the utmost respect for those amazing photographers who can instantly react to the scene in front of them and come back with fantastic photos of the inclement weather. That's not me. My approach to photograhy is quite methodical, and I like to know roughly what I'm going to shoot and visualise an end result. This means that when the conditions don't match my plan, I tend to struggle to produce somethig I'm happy with. I always remind myself that I should never be afraid to fail, because that's where success is created.

Q: Where do you want to be with your photography in five year's time?
Having only taken photography seriously for the past couple of years, it's quite difficult to know where I see myself in another five. I've been through so many different styles in just two years, so I might end up doing something completely different in the future! I find it all very exciting, as I learn something new every time I shoot. I've recently been toying with moving into the teaching side of photography, but in the meantime I'm happy to keep exploring, experimenting and learning.