Interviews / Stories
Tell us something about yourself
I’m a UK-Based photographer, happily divorced living in the West Midlands with my cat, Jesus-Phoenix, aka Titz.
How and when did you get into photography?
As a kid, my parents had various cameras, including Polaroids and Kodak Instamatics, I used to ‘borrow’ them and snap away to my heart’s content. So I grew up with a love of film. My first venture into film SLR shooting was with a Zenith E before progressing onto Canon DSLR, and then when I grew up, I moved onto the now obsolete, but brilliant, Nikon D700 full frame DSLR, which I’m still using now, amongst other cameras I own.
What does photography mean to you?
I love visual imagery, the whole capture of narrative, expression, and mood. It’s a portrayal of my internalised thoughts, I guess. Although it’s a means to an end, I enjoy the more creative aspect of shooting – nothing thrills me more than capturing the images in my head.
Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.
I often hear that my work is instantly recognisable, that’s encouraging in that its deliberate thus has become my brand and a style synonymous with me, but it also makes me produce totally different images and styles too – just to demonstrate that I’m not a one-trick pony.
I’d say my typical style is predominantly natural light, muted tones, a soft desaturated feel, often quite raunchy and suggestive, but still tastefully done, no?
Where do you get inspiration from?
Predominantly from the little voices in my head! I have a large following on Instagram (@jackrussell_photo), where I follow some amazing photographers, Instagram is a great resource for photographers to gain and share inspiration. Although inspiration is pretty much everywhere; you just have to make whatever you shoot your own.
Do you think in advance what you want in the picture?
I do. I have a very clear approach and philosophy towards shooting. I have already created images in my mind and then seek to deconstruct and recreate them in reality. I find it’s a far more effective and efficient method of shooting; it’s probably best described as (de)constructivist reverse-engineering approach. It works very well for me.
Studio, on location or both?
I much prefer shooting in natural light in more organic environments, sometimes deliberately under challenging light conditions. Studio work is ok, but can be too contrived and less rewarding. But it’s each to their own, do what you enjoy most – creating images.
Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?
There is a lot of meaningless debate about professional vs amatuer photography. At the end of the day a photographer is a photographer – the debate in my opinion is pretty redundant and nugatory. The fact that some of us are lucky enough to make a few £’s from it doesnt define what we are.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
That’s a tough question; I tend to be quite laid back and enjoy the majority of my shoots. I’ve worked with some great models and photographers, whos work I admire and value. Conversly, I’ve had a few crap experiences which has made me wiser. It’s a fickle circus which can be quite malevolent and caustic at times; but that comes with success in most things, there are always the odd individuals who like to elevate their own self-perception of worth by being critical of others. I’ve learned to ignore those people and just crack on with what I do best. Life is short.
What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?
Light! It is the life blood of photographers – but how many take it for granted, never consider exactly what it is and what the characteristics of light are. By doing so you can elevate the standard of your work as that appreciation of light helps you understand better how to use it to maximum effect.
Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?
I transferred over from Canon to Nikon about 8 years ago. I personally find the Nikon more intuative to use, the controls are more accessible, and I’ve found that I can tinker in the menus to give me more exacting control of how I want my images to look and feel. I use a range of lenses for different situations, but I’m a big fan (and user) of the nifty 50, as a general purpose lens, but as a game changer, I’d recommend the 70-200 f2.8 VR II – I can’t praise this lens enough and wish I had taken the hit and added it to my arsenal much earlier.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?
They do say that to make a little bit of money from photography, start with a lot of money... Ironically, that can be true. There seems to be a perpetual chase to have the latest gear. I shoot with an old obsolete D700 body – it does me well; the sharpest tool is the one you have in the box – and know how to use! Learn to use your tools; it’s surprising how many people come on my workshops who have never opened their camera manual.
What do you think of our new magazine?
Until recently I hadn’t seen it. But I’ve caught up now and read a few issues, and I’ve enjoyed looking at the website; which I’ve added to my bookmarks. I like the range of work displayed; it’s not restricted to single genres. That’s a healthy approach. Thanks for icluding my work and words in it.
Model: Julie & Annewil (Uniko Models)
Model: Ceca (Trend Models)
Modellen: Tatjana Lauwers & Sarah Tommeleyn
Photo: Selma Gurbuz