When and how did you fall in love with photography?
About 4 years ago my girlfriend bought me a camera for Christmas. A Canon 350D. Quite a gamble on her part as I’d done no photography to that point but it’s working out ok. I certainly got more use out of that camera than the saxophone she bought me the year after!
Have you had any formal training?
I’ve done a couple of Brett Harkness’ (genius) day courses but that’s about it.
How would you describe your photography style?
Generally I like to let things evolve in front of camera without too much interference from me. I love natural reactions and natural emotions.
What inspires your work?
A lot of things inspire me. I love looking at other photographers’ work. But my family inspires me, music inspires me, sometimes the weather inspires me or a location will inspire me. Even a look or facial expression might inspire me.
When did you first start out in portraiture photography?
At the start I was shooting a lot of sports. After about a year of doing that I started taking a few pics of my friend’s daughter, Amber, who has the most amazing facial expressions! I shot her mums wedding at the start of this year and Amber still has the best expressions ever!
Where in the UK are you based and how far would you travel for a shoot?
I’m based just outside of Leeds. Ooop in the North. I’d travel anywhere to shoot really. Bring on those Australia weddings!
How many portrait sessions do you shoot per year?
I probably only shoot about two portrait sessions a week over the year. But add that to my weddings, sports, schools, commercial and portfolio and you’ll see why my girlfriend says I work too much! Ha.
Could you please share some details of a shoot you particularly enjoyed capturing?
I did an engagement shoot with a couple earlier in the year. It was lovely and sunny so we took a walk around a nature reserve. About half way round the heavens opened with some of the most torrential rain I’ve ever seen. We took shelter in a bird hide but realising the rain wasn’t going to stop anytime soon we had a choice. Make a run for it or take some photos! Thankfully they agreed to get wet! One of the images from that session is still one of my favourites.
What would be your idea of a dream portraiture shoot?
Maybe a family shoot on a farm. Yeah that would be cool. With a lovely cornfield.
What is your favourite age to photograph and why?
I love to photograph toddlers. By this age they have their own little personality and are more than keen to show it. Kids of all ages though wear their emotions on their sleeves and I enjoy trying to capture that. It doesn’t have to be a happy emotion, just a genuine emotion.
What difficulties, if any, have you come across with portrait photography and how do you cope with them?
Babies and children can be difficult to photograph but if you let them come round in their own time things usually turn out OK. Take the emphasis away from the child having their photograph taken and just let them have a bit of fun. Even put the camera down and just play for a while. I did a lifestyle session at a nursery last week and one of the really young girls burst into tears and cried for ten minutes after seeing me (yes I took a pic, I couldn’t help it. I love crying pics). After putting the camera down for a bit though, getting down to her level and playing with a few toys she was on my side and I got some lovely images of her.
What advice would you give to parents that want you to photograph their little ones?
Keep everything relaxed and informal. Just let the kids do what they do and don’t say ’smile’! Make it fun.
What camera(s) do you use for your portraiture work?
Primarily I use a Canon 1D mark IV but sometimes a 5D mark II. I can’t really even say why I sometimes prefer to grab one out of the bag to the other.
And your favourite lenses?
Definitely a 70-200mm 2.8.
Do you use any lighting equipment?
Recently I’ve been trying to use a lot more natural light but I do like a bit of flash on occasion too. I use a couple of speedlights triggered by pocket wizards for off camera flash and have just invested in an Elinchrom Ranger RX Speed kit. Wowzers that thing has some power! I also have a couple of Bowens studio lights if I need a studio set up.
What advice would you give to wannabe portrait photographers?
Be yourself. Shoot pictures that you like. Go out and take photos, lots of them. Again, keep it fun. Kids get bored of having their photograph taken really easily so make it a game.
What has been your proudest moment as a photographer?
Photographing my little baby boy. Or maybe getting a photo of my girlfriend on page 3. No, not that type of picture. It was in the Daily Telegraph!
Out of all the photographs you have ever taken, which is your favourite and why?
Hhhmm. I’m not sure. I think, as with a lot of photographers I quickly move on to getting the next image and the one before is never good enough. But I do still like the rainy engagement shoot as I mentioned earlier.
If you could capture anybody or anything on camera what would it be?
Again, probably my little boy. Although photographing a shark would be pretty cool! (Strangely, they’ve both got similar eating habits!) Just so we can find out a bit more about the person behind the lens, could you tell me 5 things you like that are completely unrelated to photography?Drums! Before photography I wanted to be a drummer! I still get itchy hands & feet to play and as soon as Cole (my son) is old enough I will be buying him his very own kit just so I can have a blast!Music. I love music. It can take you to another place. Take you up when you’re feeling down or take you down when you’re feeling up. Flapjack. Castleford Tigers (rugby league team).Spending time with my little boy. And 5 things you dislike?Chatting in aisles in the supermarket.People reading labels in the supermarket aisles.Self service checkouts at the supermarket.Supermarket cashiers asking if you ‘ok with your packing?Wind (not the smelly kind but the blow your hair all over the place kind).
What are your aspirations for the future, in photography or otherwise?
To be the best dad I can be. To be the best photographer I can be. In that order……I think….Yeah in that order.