Interview with ePHOTOzine

I was interviewed by the nice people at ePHOTOzine as part of their feature photographer section. Thankfully I wasn't asked the interview questions on the spot and had some time to think through my responses.

Although the questions were quite obvious, it was quite a (rewarding) challenge to articulate just how you feel about a passion / hobby / obsession.

Here's the full interview.

How and why did you get into photography?

Many photographers talk of an epiphanic moment when they become 'serious' about photography. I guess mine was in 2007 during a three month trip around the Grand Circle in America visiting places like the Grand Canyon, Zion and White Sands.

Up until then I had only toyed around with a camera on family holidays. While my parents introduced me to photography from a very early age in the form of a Kodak Ektra 12-EF Instamatic, I wasn't pursuing it as a hobby.

Before that trip, I'd never experienced the desert landscape before, and I was blown away by the size, scale, features and colour. Watching sandstone bluffs glow pink and red as the sunset crept over them was pretty much my gateway drug into landscape photography.

I was hooked, suddenly I felt myself wanting more from my photography. I wanted to capture the feeling I had travelling through these places and to capture my personal visceral experience.

Your images often focus on the land and its features, like flowing water and trees. Why do these subjects appeal to you the most?

I love everything that goes into landscape photography. It is a great excuse to escape to remote and beautiful places and it's pushed me to visit places I wouldn't have otherwise visited or experienced.

Part of the appeal is the challenge that landscape photography poses. Nature is full of complexity and contrast. Harnessing this, trying to break its forms down into a 2D rectangle, whilst recreating your 3 dimensional 7 sense-driven experience of the landscape, is a really satisfying creative process.

All nature has an indisputable beauty, the rising sun hitting lofty granite peaks is always going to be an impressive sight, though I'm also drawn to the underlying 'smaller shows'. The elements that are all around us that pass unnoticed as they are more everyday – like forests, rivers and trees.

They all have their own character, and it's often more challenging (and rewarding) to create shots from them. Water is always a massive draw, which is maybe why I'm drawn to seascapes so much, there's something primal about the ocean, the roar of surf, the sea mists, and it's a place you can really use the camera's ability to see the passage of time, that 4th dimension we can't see through our own vision – only our minds eye.

Why did you decide Pentax/Ricoh was the brand for you?

Having grown up on a diet of DSLRs, with their rugged bodies, full creative control, powerful lenses and über megapixel counts, I’ll admit to previously not having an interest in digital compacts like the Ricoh GR. Whilst often feature rich they have previously appeared to suffer from being jack of all trades master of none.

I didn't see they had anything to offer me as a landscape photographer, but the Ricoh GR's promise of RAW and full manual control definitely piqued my interest, and the fixed frame lens is a great touch.

The Ricoh GR gave me all the freedom to control any scene as I wished, which combined with RAW support, adds up to a tempting package of end to end control from image capture to darkroom development. This is something which has been lacking in other compacts and as such has steered me away from the compact category in the past.

What features do these cameras have that made them stand out from the bunch?

The Ricoh GR makes a great field camera being so portable, and the full manual controls and fixed focal lens are vital tools to enable me to fully control all aspects of exposure in the field, and the RAW support is great for darkroom development.

The fixed focal wide angle lens is a huge draw for me, being drawn as I am to big vistas and the landscape format. It's a perfect accompaniment to my camera bag, it allows me to be mobile and test shots in the field before deploying my main DSLR kit and the shots and feedback it produces give me the assurances I need that I have chosen the correct composition and shot.

Read the interview on ePHOTOzine here