In my last blog post I was telling you about a piece that I had written for Hue Magazine on my motives as a photographer. Here is the complete article for you to have a read through. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing it and reflecting on my journey into photography so far!!
My journey into photography started about 8 years ago. I went to Art College with the idea of becoming a graphic designer. I picked up a camera in a photography module and haven’t looked back since.
I started off photographing landscapes. At the time, I lived in the beautiful county of Shropshire so I had my subject matter on my doorstep. I studied commercial photography at university. When I joined the course in 2011 I wanted to become a car advertising photographer as a way of combining both landscape and commercial work. I soon realised that car photography was being swallowed up by CGI making it a shrinking photographic market. My time at university saw me question landscape photography as a way of dressing the world up to be a perfect place. I moved away from that growing tired with the genre and its apparent ease. It was a time of flux. I didn’t know where I wanted to fit in anymore. Architectural? Portraiture? It wasn’t until we had a session in the studio shooting still life that I knew where I wanted to go next. The slow pace, thought process, tinkering and patience that was involved. I loved it.
When I think back to my childhood, it probably makes sense. I used to love taking things apart to see how they worked. 90% of the time, I would try to put them back together and they would never work again, unless it was lego or meccano. I was the sort of child who sorted the lego blocks by colour before starting to build with them. I was the same with coloured sweets, sorted into piles, then eaten colour by colour from my least favourite to the best ones. In secondary school I won a competition in class to make a “robot” that could jump. It landed on the school roof. I had an eye for detail in woodwork and made sure everything fitted perfectly. There was never any room for error. I feel this kind of precision you find in still life probably started way back then.
Now I shoot still life commercially, which couldn’t be further away from where I started with landscape photography, particularly with the exclusion of any natural light to obtain total control over your subject matter.
If you don’t want to be the best, then I don’t see the point in taking the first step on that journey. I have always set out to be the best at what I do. That has always been my motivation from day one. My own exacting standards are what’s pushed me forwards. If something didn’t work the way I wanted it to, that’s a failure. That’s the end of it. I get hung up on that and I beat myself up about it. You learn from these failures, but you have to go through a process of almost grievance first. Remember, you’ve not done your best piece of work yet. That’s what your going to do tomorrow, right?
I always try to push myself forward with my work; constantly thinking about the next project and scribbling down ideas in my notebook. I see shooting personal work as critical. It’s a way to show the kind of work you want to be doing and your own unique way of seeing the world. As a photographer it’s immensely valuable. That is what you build a business on – your vision and ability to communicate something. People buy into it and respect that when they commission you.
I have been shooting still life now for just over 2 years. I look back at the still life work I was producing at the very start (Feb 2013) against the work I am producing now and they are worlds apart. I am a self confessed geek when it comes to lighting. That’s what a successful image hinges on for me, particularly with still life. I have spent countless hours studying and experimenting with lighting. Working as an assistant to some hugely talented photographers has had a massive influence. Asking questions, making notes and absorbing everything on set. You learn best on the job and pick up tricks that could be practiced in your own work. Hard work does pay off but you have to have desire and be hugely motivated to get you through the tough times. Trust me, I’ve had my fair share of tough ordeals but have never lost sight of my end goal and why I started out as a photographer in the first place.
I set myself goals and I am determined to succeed even if others deem my goals unachievable. I have a 5-year plan with an array of targets I want and will achieve by the time I reach 30.
I have set myself a motto for 2015 – Time to grow as a human and step up my work. Dream big, work hard, think smart and stay humble.