In the sixteenth of our special features celebrating our favourite Instagram photographers with links with our city, we feature someone who we consider as a friend of Strong Island, Bille Cawte (@BillieRaePhoto).
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Hello, my name is Billie Cawte but you’ll find me working under the name Billie Rae. I’ve lived and studied in Portsmouth all my life.
Can you tell me more about your photographic experience; is this something that you’ve studied or maybe a hobby that you’ve developed?
Photography is something I’ve always been immersed in one way or another. Originally it was as an aid to drawing but I found that I enjoyed photography whether I was doing it for personal reasons or for work purposes. I continued to study photography at the University of Portsmouth while also working at London Camera Exchange, photography and cameras literally became my life and I loved it! Although I have studied photography a lot of what I know is self-taught as it was passion that pushed me forwards, I wanted to know more and create things and my drive (or stubbornness as I like to say) for this has resulted in some fantastic opportunities. I’ve exhibited work in Portsmouth, Birmingham and London; and I plan on many more in the years to come. My passion is now my career, I recently started working as a Lead Photographic Technician at the University of Portsmouth and I couldn’t be happier to be back surrounded by photography and other creative photographers.
you have a favoured camera or device that you use for your Instagram photography?
Most of my images on instragram are from my phone or Fuji X30, they’re both small enough for me to have with me at all times so I can capture any photograph I see. I do share photographs taken with a mixture of devices though, I’m not brand loyal at all so if I like a camera I’ll use it whether it be digital or film. If I’m proud of a picture I’ll share it!
Exploring the theme of local, the south coast has a wide variety of climatic conditions, buildings and landscapes. Are there any places or environments that are personal to you or that you love to photograph?
I’m always drawn to the sea front, I don’t know if its because I grew up on our island that I’m just used to it being there and being a source of inspiration. I love the seascape from Southsea, there’s not many places in the south coast where you look out at sea and can see another island, even making out the spire of a church. Seagulls! I have no real understand why but I like photographing seagulls and you’ll see them a lot in my seaside photographs, maybe because they are typical representation of the seaside, not sure but they appear a lot. Otherwise I just like exploring, any place that has some character or personality pulls me in. The documentary storyteller in me likes to create series of photographs, to offer a viewpoint or experience of what I’ve captured.
Would you say that you take photos more for yourself or for others?
Generally for myself but you can’t help and shoot for others too, if you photograph to share your work then you will always in the back of you mind think about what people want to see. I will always shoot in my style though, after all its how I see the world. I am lucky that I’ve got to shoot along side other photographers because they like what I do and vice versa.
Are there any other photographers who either influence you or that you would encourage our readers to also check out?
I’m going to keep these to local people or people from the area cause there is so much talent around here!
James Patterson (@jpatto275) is my other half and a fantastic photographer. An Army Mechanic/photographer, you’ll find a chance to see into a world that not many of us see including the Aurora beaming across the sky with a tank in the foreground. We often go out photographing together so if you’ll follow us both you’ll get to see how two photographers in the same place capture the world different.
Moira Lizzie (@moiralizziephotography) has soo much passion for photography that whenever I see her work or talk to her I come away buzzing! Her portraiture work is beautiful!
Sam Cornwell (@samchristopherecornwell) is some kind of weird photographic mad scientist. His work covers nearly all forms of photography and photographic processes. Basically I can’t describe what he does, there are not enough words so just follow him.
Aaron Bennett (@aaron_bennett) is someone I look up to as a photographer and a person, his fashion photography and landscape work are beyond describing. What he creates using local people and local areas makes me love when I live even more, he captures true beauty.