Can you tell us a little about yourself, where you are from and your links with Portsmouth if no longer living here?
I’m originally from Hertfordshire, but have now lived in Portsmouth for over 20 years.
Do you have a favoured camera or device that you use for your Instagram photography?
I’m not fussy – I’ll use whatever camera I have to hand! That could be my phone, my full-frame Sony A7 digital camera or one of my (ever-increasing) collection of film cameras. As anyone who follows me on twitter or instagram will soon realise, I love finding and trying out old film cameras and lenses. For the last year, I have only used old manual-focus lenses on my Sony digital camera (with cheap adapters) – partly because of the cost of new lenses but also because there’s often something special about the way vintage lenses render a shot. I filmed my recent piece for My Dog Sighs solely using a lens from the 1950s (you can check out the results here.)
Can you tell us more about your photographic experience, is this something that you’ve studied or maybe a hobby which you’ve developed?
I’ve been a keen photographer since I was a teenager – when I spent many hours in the darkroom watching in fascination as a scene I had captured just a few hours earlier emerged, as if by magic, in the developer tray on black and white paper. I still have (and use) my first film camera – a slightly battered Pentax MX. I moved across to digital for much of the last ten or so years, but have been falling back in love with film again recently.
Would you say that you take photos more for yourself or for others?
I started out taking photos for myself – partly to help record places and people but also because I just find it a relaxing way to spend time and unwind. However, over the last few years, I have started trying to share my photos more, because I’m often capturing brief moments in time or sights that other people might otherwise miss or never see. And Strong Island has been instrumental in this process – as both the Calendar and (much missed) weekly photo competitions gave me the impetus to get out, take photos and share them.
Exploring the theme of the “Local”, Portsmouth has a wide variety of climatic conditions, buildings and landscapes. Are there any local places or environments that are personal to you or that you love to photograph for a particular reason?
I find Portsmouth an endlessly fascinating city to photograph – and I still feel I have only just scratched the surface. I love how areas like Milton Locks, Eastney (along the Hayling Ferry Road) and Old Portsmouth have such a distinctive atmosphere that you feel you are in another place. Portsmouth also has a varied range architecture from the elegance of Southsea’s Georgian terraces, the stunning tile-clad Victorian/Edwardian pubs, the iconic 1950s style of Clarence Pier, the brutal modernism of the Guildhall Civic Offices, and the clean lines of the new Ben Ainslie Racing building.
The people who live here are also varied and interesting – and I love trying to document the local creative Street Art scene.
And, of course, I can’t neglect the ever-changing seafront of the nation’s only island city. Every time I walk along Southsea’s promenade there’s something different to observe, whatever the weather.
Are there any other photographers who either influence you or that you would encourage our readers to also check out?
On a national scale, some of the contemporary photographers who inspire me are:
- Giles Duley (@gilesduley) a photographer who was almost killed by an IED whilst photographing in Afghanistan and as a result is a triple amputee (losing 2 legs and an arm). Despite (or maybe because of) these injuries, his recent portraits document the legacy of war and the plight of people who are forced to flee conflict.
- Quintin Lake (@quintinlake) – a photographer who is currently walking the entire coastline of mainland Britain He started last year at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, and walking clockwise he has recently reached Wales (the entire circuit will take 5 years). Quintin has an amazing knack for composing photos in the square.
- Niall McDiarmid (@niallmcdiarmid) – a photographer who is documenting the wide range of people living in Britain with his series of street portraits – I love how he uses complementary and contrasting colours
- Andrew Whyte (@) – one of the most talented and unassuming photographers I know and who we are lucky enough to have living in our city. Andrew’s photographic skills include daytime long exposures, night sky astrophotography, light painting and, of course, legography. I have become so much more aware of the night sky since following Andrew’s work.
Locally, we have a thriving, very friendly and creative bunch of photographers with a wide variety of styles. Alongside some of the better-known photographers in our city, I am particularly fond of the style of @fivearchitects and @g3rzegorz. Fivearchitects has a great eye for detail, balance and composition, and Grzegorz constantly astounds me with the shots he takes just using his mobile phone. I’m also fascinated by how @davetbythesea captures all sides of Portsmouth in his own distinctive style.