Updated: Apr 9
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I think that the way a photographer composes, shoots and edits his or her photography, tells you a lot about who they are and what they may have witnessed throughout their life. This may not always be prominent in the early years as a photographer because it’s not always easy to produce honest work, as you tend to concentrate on the technicalities of photography. In my early years, I bombarded myself with the work of other globally renowned landscape photographers, wondering why my portfolio wasn’t up to scratch. My mistake was exactly that –competing or comparing with other photographers will not help you achieve the results ‘you’ are striving to produce. It can inspire, it can open your eyes to global locations and influence how you chose to edit, but don’t just head to the same location, compose the same image and edit your photograph based on the same style. This will never improve and harness your own skills, it will in the short term impress a number of people who see your work, but won’t feel truly honest and will not provide you with the self satisfaction that your own original work will. Others may disagree and say that the Internet has opened the eyes to all the best locations and there is nowhere left to shoot which makes originality almost impossible. I can’t disagree with that totally, but the world is such a large and diverse place and it’s amazing what can be achieved by looking at the world slightly differently.
I was 7 years old, I’d been hiking in the Lake District with my family for at least 2 hours and it hadn’t stopped raining the entire day. I was still smiling, I loved being embedded in nature, walking over the next crest to see another stunning vista, the feeling of achievement when placing a stone on a trig-point. I was lucky enough to experience trips like this across Europe and when it didn’t rain it was even more special! But these early memories stuck with me and I always knew that I wanted work outside. But what does all this mean and why does this relate to how a photographer can take honest imagery? Passion and Drive - these are all the emotional memories, interests, objects of desire that drive you as a person. Everybody is different and that's what makes us all individual as human beings. Mine are and have always been: large open outdoor spaces, clean linear design, water or ocean, simplicity and balance. These elements that make up many parts of my life have combined to produce a preferred method and approach to my photography and led me to the art of photography itself.
So minimalism now plays a large part in my photography portfolio as well as the technique of long exposure, but it didn’t always. The conscious decision to follow this route only really started to feature when I took a step back and realized the work I was producing seemed rather assorted and lacked emotion. There was a mix of big visa shots and sparks of minimalism, but I hadn’t consciously understood why I had taken these minimal shots, but started to realize that my true passion lay in these simplified images. By reducing distraction and introducing negative space into my work, I wanted to portray a sense of calm and silence. This calm pulls on your emotions and the simplicity of the photograph opens questions to where the shot was taken and why? When I eventually find a singular subject I want to photograph, I tend spend a long time shooting it from a variety of different angles. This allows me to ‘get to know’ the object and helps me begin to understand how it sits in its environment. Maybe this bond and association is then captured in the final image, but as the photographer it’s not always easy to deconstruct your own work and know exactly why you chose one composition over another, sometimes it’s just a feeling!
So in conclusion, does being a minimalist photographer echo roots of loneliness and solitude in my early life? That’s the thing, not at all, but I do think its my way of expressing that sometimes I need time away from the chaotic busy world we now live in. It reflects the deep emotions I wish to sustain, such as calm, love, peacefulness, seclusion, silence – emotions that any decent human being would want to pursue on a regular basis in order to balance out their modern existence. It also allows me to offer glimpses of very simple objects on this planet that can offer such beauty, which would normally be passed without a second glance. Capturing these moments will always provide me with a sense of being and might just offer a glimpse into the world that I strive to live in!