An Interview With: We Made This Work

Some time ago now the guys at We Made This Work got in touch asking if I would mind answering some questions for the blog they had made aimed at undergraduate photography student. Heres the interview below (sorry it might seem long and boring):

How did you get started in photography?

I went to college to study graphic design. There was a module of photography and I’ve not put a camera down since.

Where did study photography?

I initially studied a BTEC national diploma at Hereford College of Arts and then went on to study commercial photography at the University of Derby.

How did you start your career out of university?

I started my photography career while I was at university. I had already shot my first commercial jobs by the time I had left and had grown a fairly long list of photographers I was assisting. 

Who (if) were you assisting and what were you shooting? 

I was assisting James King, Matt Standfield, Jonathan Beer and a whole bunch of others regularly when I started my career. I was shooting still life bits on a personal level too.

Why did you choose product and portrait photography?

I liked the challenge of making everyday objects become appealing and I like geeking out about lighting, so still life is perfectly suited to that. I treat portraits much like still life, lighting a space and then getting the subject to occupy that.

What three personal qualities have really helped you to become successful in your craft and business?

I’m not sure. Probably my drive, because you’ll get knocked back so many times you need to be able to keep getting up. You also need to be fairly thick skinned and resilient.

How would you describe your style?

Colourful and punchy maybe…

Can you describe your digital work-flow and the software you use? Does your post processing contribute heavily to your style?

I shoot on a Phase One, so I have to use Capture one. Its also great for organizing and making fine adjustments to RAW files. I shoot tethered 99% of the time which helps you to see the finer details and refine things. I shoot a lot of plates that get put together in photoshop  mainly to give you options on things and make removing unwanted objects like stands easier.

What are your favorite types of projects to work on, and why?

My favorite projects are where you have the freedom to be fairly creative. I think the more open minded you can be in the approach and planning, then the better the final outcome will be

What is most challenging about shooting portraits?

I think its capturing someone’s personality. A good portraits shouldn’t just be a picture of someone, it should be a reflection of who they are.

Do you work alone or do you hire assistants, work with other photographers, collaborations? 

I work alone a fair bit, but also hire in assistants when I need to. I’m always on the look out for collaborations with other artists/ set designers etc too.

Is there anybody or anything you would love to photograph?

At the moment, probably Guy Martin.

Do you ever face "creativity blocks"?

Inevitably yes. Its difficult not to get bogged down sometimes. You need to ride the waves with creative things.

What kit do you use?

I shoot primarily on a Phase One medium format system. I’ve got a bunch of profoto lighting too.

How much post production goes into your final images?

That’s dependent on the project. Sometimes things can be pretty much straight out of camera, other times there can be 30+ elements to a photograph.

The first photographer that comes to your mind and why?

Gregory Crewdson. His work is like huge still life stuff, everything has been carefully considered, lit and placed. The level of detail that goes into the work is immense.

Who are your inspirations both photographically and in general?

Take inspiration from every day things. The way the sun refracts on things, watching the world go by from a café window. Sometimes it’s the mundane things. Photographically, Gursky, Crewdson, McCurry and then commercial photographers like Louisa Parry, Chris Turner etc.

Is there a certain shoot you have completed in the past, or perhaps a collection of your images that are your personal favourites? For what reasons?

That’s difficult because I have a personal attachment to them all. But I tend to go for the more technically demanding images because they required more craft.

What quick advice do you have for photographers just starting out?

Never underestimate or undervalue your craft and the power of photography.

Favourite two photos you have taken recently?

I’ve been doing a fair bit of trainer work recently, so probably those.

What do you most love about photography?

The lighting challenges. Building the lighting on a scene and making it come to life. Photography is all about the light.

Most memorable shoot?

One I assisting on in LA. It was a huge privilege to be flown out and paid to be there.

Any personal projects your working on?

I’ve got a few things in the pipeline. Nothing that I really want to give away just yet – so you’ll have to keep checking back

What are your ambitions for the future?

Keep growing as a photographer, gaining experience, picking up new clients, building new relationships, move forward in creative knowledge, embrace abstract ideas.