Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Where When How Wednesday - KP Photography

Welcome to 'Where When How Wednesday'. In these weekly posts I'll be interviewing creatives about their journey into the creative world, their works, and what makes them tick. This week I'm interviewing photographer Keith of KP Photography.

Model - Helen Stephens


Hi Keith. Thank you for taking a little time out of your day to answer some questions for me. How did you come to be a photographer?

'Even when I was young I always admired the female form, so as soon as I was old enough I bought myself a camera and started taking photographs of girlfriends et cetera. In those days I wouldn't really have called myself a photographer, just purely someone who took pictures.'

Model - Melissa Tongue


When you started did you have aspirations of it going somewhere or was it purely an enjoyment thing

'No for 40 years I shot purely for fun, then about 10 years ago I joined my first model photographer internet site and carried on in the same manner. A few years after this somebody told me about PurplePort, so I joined that as well. When I had been on PurplePort for about a year I spotted a casting call by Melissa Tongue saying she was in Dorset and would anybody like to shoot with her. I applied thinking she'll take one look at my work and ignore me, but she didn't. We had a fantastic first shoot, got on like a house on fire, and for me got some reasonably good pictures. I got to thinking I really haven't done this girl justice, so it slowly dawned on me that I wanted to become a better photographer. Although I know I still have a long way to go, I do think I have come along way in the three years since I first met Melissa.'

Model - Zoe Moore


You have by your own admission photographed many styles of photography which of all the stalls your shot is your favourite

'That's an easy one, although I enjoy most genres I would have to say my favourite is art nude.'



Are there any styles you've tried that, either while shooting it or after the shoot, you've thought to yourself "nope, that's just not for me"?

'I once travelled to London to shoot two girls doing a BDSM in a fully equipped dungeon, and although I quite enjoyed the shoot as the girls were brilliant, I thought afterwards it's not really my thing.'

Model - Zoe Moore


You surely can't have shot as much as you have without finding yourself in a precarious, or hilarious situation or two. Are there any that spring to mind?

'Yes definitely. I have had many precarious and hilarious situations over the years but one funny one that really sticks in my mind. I was shooting a girl for the first time on location when somebody spotted us, and we heard a voice come over the fence and shout "tell your misses to get her clothes on and **** off". Anyway, I thought no more of it until about a week later I had a visit from a policeman. He informed me that an older gentleman had been spotted with a young girl, apparently in distress, and wanted to know if it was me. I informed him it was me that she certainly wasn't in distress, in fact she was laughing all the way back to the car because we had been caught. Anyway, I told him I would invite him into my living room show him her modelling page on PurplePort and my portfolio, but unfortunately couldn't do it at the present time as I had a naked lady in my living room as I was halfway through a shoot. By the time I got back to the living room the model was actually dressed and was happy for me to invite the policeman through to show him what was what. On the way out he informed me that we may need to speak again my reply to him was don't worry mate I have so many plans for location shoots in the future by Christmas we will be on each other's Christmas card list. Luckily he had a sense of humour but I never did hear from him again.

The only precarious situation I have really had is when a fellow photographer started spreading malicious lies about me. I heard the same story from three girls that I had worked with in the past, but luckily they all knew me well and knew that what he was saying was untrue. For quite a while this really affected me, and helped to put me in to quite a bad place. For the first time in my life I suffered with depression as I thought a lot of people will think there is no smoke without fire. Fortunately since that incident I have worked with some incredible girls who are all being really supportive, and have helped me realise that nobody believes his stories, and personally I think my references on purple port speak for themselves. In hindsight I don't really blame the photographer as I know the model he received this information from had borrowed £1000 from me, and for some inexplicable reason instead of paying me back she decided to try and ruin my reputation.'

Models - Anna Rose (Top) & Ayla (Bottom)


One of the advantages of the internet is also one of it's big disadvantages, advice is always available. As sites like Yahoo Answers have proven on many occasions, there is as much naff advice out there as there is good, if not more so. Have you found yourself on the receiving end on naff photography advice?

'I have but on the whole I really appreciate it when somebody takes time out of their busy day to critique my work. Especially over the last couple of years I have had some comments that make me extremely proud of my work. Even when I ask for critique on a picture and I get all bad reviews, I really do appreciate it as most of the time I agree with what the people are saying, and it inspires me to do it better next time.'

Model - Zoe Moore,  Taken At - Art Asylum Photo Studios


After that, and somewhat putting you on the spot, what would be the one piece of good advice you'd give aspiring photographers?

'Most of it is common sense. Especially when starting out you will definitely get better pics if you work with some of the top models, they know what works for them and can be really helpful with ideas, lighting and posing. Also when working with models always treat them with respect. It's fine to have a laugh and joke on the shoot but at the same time remain professional, and obviously always respect the levels that the model states she work to. There's no point in trying to push levels, if the girl is not comfortable, it will show in the pics, and you will get a bad reputation and probably kicked off networking sites.'

Model - Ayla


Where should people look to see more of your work?

'I do have a photography page on Facebook, and have recently joined Twitter. Shortly hope to join Instagram, also start a blog and then write a book about all my experiences over the past 45 years or so. I already know a lot of photographers and models that cant wait to read it and unfortunately some are probably dreading it.'

Model - Tigerbelle


Last question, and no pressure but this determines whether or not your interview is published... What's your favourite joke?

'A young boy runs into the kitchen crying and tells his mum that he thinks his dad is dying. She asks him why and he says hes lying on his back naked in the bedroom the nanny is jumping up and down on him trying to give him the kiss of life and he's shouting GOD I'M COMING'.

Model - Natural Happy Girl


I'd like to thank Keith again for taking the time to answer a few questions for me, be sure to check out all the links above (coming soon!) for more of his work, as well as the links attached to the images for the other creatives involved in creating them.


Ian
http://facebook.com/guffoggthegeek
http://twitter.com/guffoggthegeek

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Where When How Wednesday - Simon Carter

Welcome to 'Where When How Wednesday'. In these weekly posts I'll be interviewing creatives about their journey into the creative world, their works, and what makes them tick. This week I'm interviewing photographer Simon Carter.

Model - Atalanta,  Taken At - Nic Marchant's


Hi Simon. Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for me. How was it you came to pick up a camera?

'Thanks for asking me!

My father – and both my grandfathers – were keen photographers when I was a child so I had a series of hand-me-down manual film cameras. I learnt the basics of exposure & so on – but stopped as teenagehood took hold. I just wasn’t interested in photographing the same things as my family – steam trains, planes, flowers and so on. And the Commodore 64 was way more fun.

Towards the end of my university years I got interested in contemporary circus stuff and that took hold in a big way. I have performed professionally but was never really business-like enough to be a real success in the industry. Fast forward a few years.. my wife gave me a small digital camera and I started doing a ‘photo-a-day’ group on Facebook – and I saw an advert for a group burlesque shoot at WindmillArt and got the bug.. I blame Conrad Webb.'

Model - Amie Boulton


Ah the Commodore 64, my father had one of those. I seem to recall I lost a substantial amount of time to Frogger. Because I fear very few will know what we're talking about (making us feel old), and it seems like it has the potential for a more interesting answer all round... You were involved in contemporary circus?

'The circus thing was a refreshing antidote to the extreme computer geekery I encountered at college. It was much more fun and involved people who didn’t dwell in a basement. It just happened that the folk I got involved with were very supportive when it came to giving people opportunities to perform, and that took off when I created an acrobalance act with my now wife. Consequently I’ve performed in all sorts of unlikely places from a muddy field in Blackburn – while wearing white lycra – to being dressed as a nun in an act with Dame Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey.'

Model - Maja Stina,  Taken At - Nic Marchant's


You have, by your own admission, an affinity for vintage Hollywood portraiture. What is it about the style that captivates you?

'Two things: Firstly, I love the drama of the results, the air of mystery and the sheer class. Secondly, it’s technically very demanding and highly rewarding. Pretty much anyone can bung up a big softbox and create a nice portrait but to create a flattering portrait with multiple hard light sources is rather exacting. Keeping on top of all that while still trying to make something which isn’t rather lifeless is a skill I have yet to master.'

Taken At - Nic Marchant's


Keeping with the vintage Hollywood theme for a moment. If you had the chance, via time travel or something, which three people from vintage Hollywood would you shoot?

'Cyd Charisse – a superb dancer and legs which went on for years.

Humphrey Bogart ‘cos he’s totally iconic.

Ingrid Bergman, the most beautiful and expressive of actresses.'

Taken At - Nic Marchant's


All fine choices... And if you could shoot three modern day, or relatively modern day stars, in the vintage Hollywood style, who would you shoot?

'I’m a rubbish person to ask this question, I watch so little TV and rarely see films. I’m sure Grace Jones would be awesome to work with. Maybe the recently departed Carrie Fisher? Steven Berkoff would be a scary guy to photograph and has an intensity few can match.'

Taken At - Nic Marchant's


Moving to your work around acrobats, dancers, alternate performers and the like if we may... All photography can have it's share of challenges. To my mind, as someone who hasn't tried it, acrobatic and dance photography could be quite challenging. Is this the case or is it actually pretty smooth going as long as you've prepared?

'It’s what I started with, really, and didn’t realise for a while that it has some unique challenges. The biggest problem is that I tend to show full length figures with quite a lot of space around them, often side lit, and often with the body at a rather unusual angle. That needs lots of studio space with big lights which are carefully controlled.

Then there’s the physical challenge – it can take a fair degree of repetition to get lights, fingers, toes, face and so on as I want them and most positions really can’t be held for long at all, or are purely transitory. That takes performers who are at the top of their game.

Lastly, it takes understanding of the skill being displayed. For example, a good photographer could make a perfectly good dance photo but the very best dance photographers are all dancers themselves.'

Taken At - Nic Marchant's


Are there any styles of dance, acrobatic disciplines, alternate performances you haven't shot but would like to try your hand at?

'I’ve always shied away from photographing jugglers – partly because it’s a highly dynamic thing, and partly because it’s the skill I know most about. I know just how hard it will be to make something I’m content with. I think that’s going to change in the near future, though.

I’m also about to start work on a series with yoga practitioners. There’s an awful lot of highly impressive ‘stunt yoga’ on Instagram and YouTube but that has almost nothing to do with most people’s relationship with yoga. That’s more about a personal connection with mind and body. I’m going to start very simply and see where it leads.'

Model - Verity,  Make Up & Hair - Sarah Pumfrey


Whilst researching I came across the blog on your website and read your 'The Process' post. Within it you say how you extensively post process images. Unlike some extensively post processed images your images, to me, don't look heavily processed. They look, for the most part, natural. Without giving too many trade secrets away, and without creating a full blog post about your process (I'm going to hire you for that later!), can you give a brief run down of your editing process?

'I don’t have any secrets! And I certainly don’t claim to be an expert in the PP community. I have evolved a process which works for me, though, roughly...

1. Basic development in Lightroom -camera calibration, sharpening, perspective & lens correction & so on. I often use a lightmeter and colour checker so that I don’t need to think about exposure and white balance issues.

2. Over to Photoshop.. I spend a disproportionate amount of time tidying up backgrounds – this is partly due to the size of my subjects, especially when horizontal - and it’s only recently I’ve got genuinely happy with the process. I’ll quite often light a background in a particular way only to completely replace it with a very similar background in photoshop rather than tidy up what I’ve got. I find that if the original lighting is a close match to the replacement then things look more natural, and more forgiving of errors.

3. Skin cleanup – this changes from month to month but is currently remove some of the reds, micro dodge & burn some fine lines. Then frequency separation – keeping quite a lot of texture on the high frequency layer. Then I and work on the high layer with a hard brush for spots and often use Color Efex Pro’s Dynamic Skin Softener on the low frequency layer to even out the tones. I tend to be rather selective about this, though, and if I reduce any nice contrasty shadows too much at this stage I’ll burn them back in later.

4. Liquify. Occasionally.

5. Dodge & burn as required

6. I very often boost the local contrast or clarity of the main subject via a variety of techniques.

7. Then I get on to toning. I’m not good at this yet but I can occasionally get results I’m happy with. I usually try to simplify and unify the colour palette rather than do any significant colour adjustment.

8. Print & deliver!'

Model - Helen Stephens,  Taken At - WindmillArt Studio


Speaking of printing, that's another thing you mention on your blog, the fact that you tested a lot of combinations. When hopefully I manage to start shooting more, printing is something I am very much wanting to do. How much research, and trial & error did you find yourself going through before you found the combination that matched you and your style?

'I must have tried 5 or 6 different labs and at least a dozen paper types, as well as a few different framing and glass options. I now use three different processes. Learning to get the print density right took a lot of test prints, too. Proper photographic C types on Fuji lustre paper have the best balance of punch and shadow detail for most of my work. I really like Loxley’s gloss Alumini stuff for high impact images, and I occasionally print b&w giclees on a textured cotton rag.'

Model - Roswell Ivory,  Taken At - Nic Marchant's


When you're not shooting what's occupying your time?

'I still teach acrobalance with my wife, though I haven’t performed in years. I don’t juggle anything like so much as I used to but it’s still there. Over the last year or so I’ve got interested in yoga. I love hill walking, and spending as much time as possible with my 9 year old son. (And trying to convince him that hill walking can be fun!). I like food – too much, wine – also too much – and diy hifi – but not so much now my music system does everything I need.'

Model - The Great Bendini, sideshow performer extraordinaire


I had a mate who was into the whole diy hifi thing, trouble was his music taste was abysmal. As a result, I have to admit, it never really interested me. Hill walking I don't mind, as long as I take a camera. Food, now there's a pastime I can relate to. What's your favourite dish(or dishes if you struggle with the "pick your favourite child" nature of the question.

'Lol! The world of hifi enthusiasts is weird, but has a lot of parallels with photography. Nerds spend more time listening to the kit than the music. Food is much easier – for me it has to be something simple and fishy. While there are still some fish left! Probably dab, briefly fried with a spot of samphire and some mash on the side.'

Model - Helen Stephens,  Taken At - Nic Marchant's


What has the future got in store for you and your photography?

'Without getting too fine-art pretentious, I want to work much more thematically, to explore subjects in depth and to make stuff I like whether anyone else gets it are not. My recent shoot with Helen Stephens was my first deliberate venture along those lines.

I’ll carry on doing one-off casual shoots but I hope to be able to put together a more coherent body of work or sets of projects as time goes on.

I love working with experienced models but it’s hard to justify the regular outlay unless I have a particular idea I really need to get out of my system. I also enjoy the challenge of working with folk who are unused to being in front of the camera – that’s slowly evolving into a paying sideline.'

Model - Artemis Fauna,  Taken At - Thurston Lodge


Where can people see more of your wonderful work and get in touch with you should they wish to shoot?

'I put different things on the different platforms.. I’m on PurplePort at http://purpleport.com/portfolio/juggler, on Instagram as simonbalancer and there’s a selection of stuff on www.simoncarterphotography.com'

Model - Frankie Dubery,  Assisted By - VanessaPhotographer


Last but by no mean least, what's your favourite joke?

'Im rubbish at jokes.

Heres a small piece of photographic wisdom instead: "It aint what you got, it's what you point it at"'

Promo pic for Lily La Mer & Company - and her Winter performance troupe


I'd like to thank Simon again for taking the time to answer a few questions for me, be sure to check out all the links above for more of his work, as well as the links attached to the images for the other creatives involved in creating them.


Ian
http://facebook.com/guffoggthegeek
http://twitter.com/guffoggthegeek

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Where When How Wednesday - CSAce

Welcome to 'Where When How Wednesday'. In these weekly posts I'll be interviewing creatives about their journey into the creative world, their works, and what makes them tick. This week I'm interviewing Hampshire based photographer John Rae AKA CSAce.



Hi John. Thank you for taking a little time out of your day to answer some questions for me. How did you come to find yourself a photographer?

'Long, long story. I’ve always been a creative soul, painting, drawing, singing and song writing. Back in the eighties my old man was made redundant and joined a retraining scheme to train as a CCTV controller (new tech back then). For the course, he had to buy a DSLR and a selection of lenses, he bought me one too and it became a new conduit for my creative energy. I joined a camera club at Uni and got into Black and White darkroom stuff. From then on it was very much a hobby, but then in the 90s while working as a Road Safety Officer I started producing original artwork for publicity and advertising using my photographs, a scanner and Photoshop (version 3.0 I think, that’s pre-layers!)

For the last 10 to 15 years I have been teaching photography and Photoshop part time and making up a full salary by freelancing as a commercial fashion and product photographer.'



Is your teaching in a school/college type environment or workshops and 1-1 tuition?

'Mainly photography qualifications in an adult college with some 1-1 and workshop style sessions as well.'



With the exception of one still life image, all of your work that I have seen up to now is people-centric. Was this the focus you knew you wanted from the start or did you try your hand at various things first?

'I have always been interested in people and portraits, right from day one. I experimented with self-portraits, friends at school and Uni and anyone else I could coerce. Product shots are the bread and butter these days but when I get people involved I always enjoy it more. I never engaged with landscape or buildings photography, I respect those working in those fields, but it’s just not for me.'



Was there any particular reason you didn't take to landscape photography? Something such as the super early mornings? The unpredictability of the British weather? Maniacal sheep trying to push you off a hillside?

'No real deep or traumatic reason, just not as engaging or entertaining as working with people'



You've had various projects/exhibitions based on issues such as gender, mental health, sexuality, people's perceptions etc. How and why do you select the issues that you do?

'My arty projects centre around the concept of “identity” which is a natural component of portraiture of course. I started by thinking about identity in purely physical terms. Say a dead body was found and had to be identified, they would first look at gender signifiers then so called “identifying marks” e.g. scars, tattoos etc. That drove me initially to think about scars, tattoos, gender and other facets of identity and personality: the nature of the content of my photographic projects from 2011 onwards.'



You must have seen some badass tattoos during your projects, what's the one you found the most impressive?

'Impressive in terms of coverage has to be the guy i met up in Manchester who posed for the "most tattooed" circus poster, for content is has to be a young lad from Birmingham with "Fuck it" in 6 inch high letters on his belly! The most fascinating are always the custom designs with a story and significance rather than off the shelf pastiche.'

Model - Boykitten


I've asked people in the past who they'd love to shoot, I'm possibly making it a bit more difficult for you by amending it a little, but... If you could shoot anyone for one of your projects, who would it be?

'That’s a tough one. If we are allowed living or dead, Elvis. If not, then David Coverdale, (Whitesnake, Deep Purple vocalist) either way it has to be a celebrity, think of the publicity!'



You've shot for a while now, assuming your PurplePort information is correct. Of all the work you've produced do you have a favourite? Or one (or a few/set) that mean something extra special to you?

'It’s always the latest one, the current one. It tends to be all consuming when it’s in full flow. Also when projects are completed they are “gone”. It’s a cathartic process I think?

I do have a soft spot for the 2013 Circus project, lots of good memories from that one. I travelled the country from the South coast to Lancs, via South Wales and Cambridge, met some fab characters and made some good friends along the way.'



Without maybe giving too much away, unless you want to give me an exclusive, have you got any new projects in the works?

'I have recently got back into the singing, song-writing and performing so I am working along more musical themes at the moment. Guitars fascinate me, I have a collection of about 20. A female shape but an obvious phallic connection, very sexual, intimate objects. Watch out for guitar themed erotica next!'



Quite possibly the tossiest worded question I have ever asked... What's your sound? Rock? Country? Synth-pop? Thrash metal? God, it's not a Nickelback tribute act is it? (I assume people still ridicule them!)

'We are playing original music, an 80s vibe I guess, rocky, poppy. Not as heavy as I would like but still great fun!'



As well as your projects you also shoot commercial work. Have you had to shoot anything particularly peculiar for a client? Or something that you've thought to yourself "how on earth am I going to make a compelling image with that"?

'All the time. With the product photography, it really could be anything that turns up. I have had; body bags (seriously, the things they put dead bodies in), cat scratchers, bacon, chocolate, age-delay pet food, snail-slime face cream, “massagers”, toilet roll, a do-it-yourself will kit…. the list is endless and nothing if not eclectic.

Love the challenge!

Best part is, more often than not I get to keep the samples sent, so pretty much my whole wardrobe, furniture and fittings at home are freebies. Even the body bag got put to good use (don’t ask!)'

Model - Annie Moya


Even a "normal" person seeing the words "don't ask" would have to ask. So, as a person who is a few paces away from normal, and is nosey, what's it used for? Obviously disposal of someone will put a huge downer on the interview, so if you've murdered someone, lie to me...

'I did not murder someone, honest guv.'

Victim Model - Annie Moya


I believe you're a Northerner but you now live down south. Is there anything you miss from back up t'north?

'God no. A few old chums perhaps, but certainly not the weather…'



If people want to check out more of your work, or possibly end up in one of your exhibitions, where should they go?

'Arty website is www.johnrae.co.uk I post up information about exhibitions there. My commercial work is featured at www.csace.co.uk but to be honest I use Flickr mainly, as I can quickly make bespoke albums for pitches.'



No pressure but some of your references do say how funny you are, so...what's your favourite joke?

'Anything with a pun, I’m a sucker for puns, saucier the better. I often quote the late, great Kenneth Williams, I think he was on Parky when he said “If I see a bit of innuendo in a script, I whip it out straight away”'

Model - Thomas Peters


I'd like to thank John again for taking the time to answer a few questions for me, be sure to check out all the links above for more of his work, as well as the links attached to the images for the other creatives involved in creating them.


Ian
http://facebook.com/guffoggthegeek
http://twitter.com/guffoggthegeek

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Where When How Wednesday - Wullie Marr

Welcome to 'Where When How Wednesday'. In these weekly posts I'll be interviewing creatives about their journey into the creative world, their works, and what makes them tick. This week I'm interviewing Scottish Press Photographer Of The Year 2016 Wullie Marr.

(IMAGES COMING SOON...HE'S A BUSY CHAP, HE'S THE SCOTTISH PRESS PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR YOU KNOW!)

Well hello there Mr Scottish Press Photographer Of The Year (I think I got that in quite subtly). Thanks for taking a few moments to answer some questions for me. How did you come to be a photographer?

'Haha, very subtle. Photography has always been part of my life. Since I used to always want my mum's Olympus Trip when we were out and about, my parents bought me my first camera aged 9. The following year I got a s/h Pentax S1A, then a s/h darkroom kit. Being an only one, had plenty time on dark nights to learn developing and printing, and it just continued from there. I think I still have all my early photography books somewhere. My father and Grandfather had both been reasonably keen amateurs, but never had the passion I found. When I left school, I went to be an assistant photographer with a high street photographer, doing Weddings, PR, and commercial work. It wasn't exactly what I wanted to do, as journalism had always been my goal, and gave it up after about a year. I then kept it up as a hobby, getting more serious as I was getting older, but having a full time job. Moving on, and after two spine operations (I now have nuts and bolts holding my back together) and being a bit busier, I took the plunge back into full time photography. With some voluntary redundancy money, I started freelancing in the news world, and eventually got the chance of a staff job with Deadline News, a small Edinburgh based news agency, where I have been for just over three years now.'


Nuts and bolts in your spine...best not get stuck behind you at airport security then?

'Haha, yes. It actually doesn't set them off. I tried like mad to get a copy of my x-ray once they were installed, but they wouldn't give me one, as they are made from titanium and don't set the detectors off strangely enough.'


So it's in for gear nuts like myself, and to get it out of the way for those not interested. As a press photographer, what's your gear?

'All Nikon, D4s, D4, D3, 14-24/2.8, 24-70/2.8, 70-200/2.8 VRII, 300/2.8, 50/1.4, 60 micro, 1.4x tele, SB900, 2xSB800, 2xSB700, various triggers, and accessories.'


As eagle eyed readers may have picked up on, if they read the very subtle hint, you're the current Scottish Press Photographer Of The Year. How did that happen? Do you have to apply? Are you entered automatically as a photographer for an agency? Also, do you know the judging process and what made them choose your work?

'Yes, the Scottish Press Photography Awards are open to all photographers, full or part time, who have had work published in news papers over the previous 12 months. My office encourages me to enter, and pics up any expenses incurred. In 2015, I won the reportage section with a series of pictures from a large controversial event where a 12 year old girl ended up being bottled in the face. Last year I was placed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the politics section, and 1st and 2nd in the Arts and Entertainment section, which resulted in winning the over all competition as well, with the 2nd and 3rd placed photographers being staff at the Daily Record newspaper. As for the judging process, I know who the judges are, after the fact obviously, haha. Picture editor for the Scottish Sun, Assistant Picture Editor at the Scottish Daily Mail, and if memory serves, an Assistant Picture Editor at the Scotsman. 3 very different newspapers, carrying very different types of pictures. I'm not sure why they picked mine. There were other pictures in the competition I thought should have done better, but they will look at the pictures from their paper's point of view I suppose. I was just pleased that they favoured mine, and I beat the previous winner into second place. He is a very good friend of mine, so bragging rights have been well used!!!'


Was there a big swanky awards ceremony à la Oscars or BAFTAs?

'No big swanky ceremony yet. The awards have been resurrected after being dormant for a few years, so as an event, it is still building. This year the awards will be followed by an exhibition in the Scottish Parliament, giving the awards a bigger audience.'


What was it that drew you to press photography?

'In two words......... Don McCullin. Since I was about 10 or 11, and became aware of his work in Vietnam, I wanted to be like him. There was also a couple of fleet street stalwarts used to be regular contributors to magazines like Amateur Photographer, and Practical Photography, like Ken Lennox of the Sun/News of the World, and Daily Mirror snapper, Mike Maloney. Seeing the close up, in your face pictures they would share, and I knew that's where I wanted to be.'


I've always had an appreciation for McCullin and his work. Eyed up the Irreconcilable Truths box set a few times. Sadly £695 is a bit out of my budget, nor is it justifiable to the wife! Bit of a daft questions considering I can't post it, I can post a link to it on his site I suppose...was there one specific McCullin image that initially grabbed your attention and shaped your future?

'I had originally heard about him from my father, who I had mentioned was a keen amateur, so I knew of him before seeing his work, or reading his stories, so not really a single picture. just how close he was in to the action, and the tales that went with it. Things like his Nikon F being hit by a bullet, and effectively saving his life, stuff like that. I suppose, being British, Don was always the one that was featured in the UK magazines more often. And remember, I'm talking about the late 1970's when it was still cool for us kids to run around playing with toy guns, war still had a great fascination for me. A lot of people would possibly instantly pic his shell shocked GI with the thousand yard stare, or the Vietcong execution pictures, but a lot of his Northern Ireland stuff is particularly effective, having grown up in that period where the 'troubles' were on TV on a daily basis, and I knew friends and family in the military who were there during that time too. Sorry if that's a shite answer lol.'


Talking of your press work, do you cover one specific subject matter or do you cover a bit of anything and everything?

'In Scotland, press photographers don't really stick to a single subject, as there isn't really enough of any one thing to keep you busy. I could start off the day with meerkats jumping over me as I lie in the sand at the zoo, maybe then onto politics, and next onto a murder scene. That's the way I like it to be honest. I never know what I'm doing after lunch today, let alone tomorrow. Also my job isn't a 9-5 thing. Some days I won't do anything until 2 or 3 o'clock, which is fine, as it gives me a chance to do some archiving.'


I know you said you enjoy the variety, but, is there one specific subject you enjoy more than the others?

'People might think it a strange one, after all, we get face to face with celebs, bands, etc. Get access to things or places the general public don't, plus it's all free lol, but the thing that I like most about my job is, hard news, breaking news, spot news, whatever you want to call it. Things that are ongoing, and you are working with and against the rest off the press to get the picture. I was at the Clutha helicopter tragedy in Glasgow, within an hour of it happening. Possibly one of the weirdest experiences of my time behind the lens, as I found out while shooting, and filing, that the band that were on stage when the helicopter came through the roof were mates of mine. Luckily, they were all ok, physically anyway, but 10 people lost their life that night. One of my favourite shots is from that night too. Taken about 4:30 in the morning, of a female firefighter, just standing in the middle of the road, helmet in hand just looking exhausted. But as I eluded to in an earlier question, it's not everyone's thing. I've photographed dead bodies in the street, being pulled from the mountain side, or out of water. You need to have the ability to disengage any emotion from things like this. You are there recording the news, for the public.'


When you're not busy shooting for work, what do you like to shoot for fun?

'The past couple of years, I have started to rediscover photography as a hobby. I was always on news watch, day and night, but I have started building up a body of my own, personal, work again. I don't have a genre I favour though, I shoot what I see. Some street photography, I seem to also have developed a thing for quirky or colourful doors and windows. I do some occasional work with models, but it's basic, and more just nice, natural lit pictures. The thing I am currently 'into' in my personal work is going out with only my 50mm. That's how I started, with only a nifty fifty. I have also started travelling more, with the sole purpose of photography. In the past 8 months I've gone to Iceland (it rained non stop for my four days there), the Scottish Islands, and Marrakesh, with returns to Marrakesh and Iceland planned again before Christmas.'


Other than return trips to Marrakesh and Iceland, where else would you love to travel to?

'All over haha. Every part of the world has some story to tell. At the moment, I am in talks to try and get to Palestine. I have a news agency there who will sponsor my Israeli press card, needed to work in the area, but fixers are so expensive, so I am trying to 'get in' with some locals who will be able to work with me, and help me out with info while I am there. Bear with me while I go off on a tangent haha, our mainstream press is so celebrity orientated nowadays, that we don't see any reports of real, hard news from places like Israel and Palestine. But since taking an interest a couple of years ago, when a journalist friend of mine went out to work for a few months, the stories that I see and hear about are horrific. I want to go, and see and document the children of Palestine, as they get so badly treated, and often shot and killed by the occupying troops. As a parent it is horrific, in fact, as a human it's horrific.'


Is there anything you haven't tried shooting yet that you'd like to try your hand at?

'The one thing I really want to do is conflict photography. Harking back to what interested me about news work originally. Not everyone's first choice, putting yourself in danger.'


You might not want to answer this, it may help your competition after all, but... Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to be a press photographer?

'Advice for aspiring news photographers? Don't do it!! Lol. Seriously though, photojournalism is dying a slow death, and as such, it's becoming harder to make ends meet for someone new to the business. For those determined enough though, there's are a lot of advice that will stand them in good stead. Firstly, know your subject. Just turning up and taking pictures isn't always enough. One case in point is one of my politics award pictures. I photographed Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale last year during the Scottish Elections, and I knew that there was a bit of in fighting in the party. I found out from her press agent where she would be arriving from, to get a walking along the street picture, and noticed there was a street called New Row, where she would have to cross the road. I positioned myself where I thought she would cross, and as she crossed over, she looked both ways, giving me the chance to drop the shutter as she turned toward the street sign. That picture was a double page spread in the Herald the following day, with her head turned toward the sign, and the headline.... Kezia Faces New Row, and the report was about the party pulling apart. Also, you need to be able to be your subjects new best friend, putting them at ease, and they will drop their guard at some point, and you will get the picture. Law is also something we need to think about. We need to know enough of the law to allow us to, just, stay on the right side of it. Sometimes knowing our rights about what we can and cannot photograph, and where we can and can't go better than the police. Obviously the ability to stand up for yourself in various circumstances is important, as is a thick skin. Covering racist or fascist type demonstrations puts you in the firing line, and standing up against abuse, without pushing your subject, is a must. I've had police intervene when protesters have jumped fences to attack me on occasion. It is a crazy world being a press photographer, and you will see things you aren't used to. It can affect you badly, or you can switch off to it, without switching off to your job. It's not everyone's cup of tea to be within a few feet of a dead body being pulled from a river or flooded quarry. If these kind of things will affect you, it's not a job for you.'


Have you had times when you've particularly struggled, or even failed to capture images because you just couldn't ignore the douchebaggery of your subjects? Or times when you were hurt or your gear was damaged to a point where you, or it couldn't work?

'I can't think of an example of a subject being too much of a douchbag haha, although there have been a fair few who have just been miserable, and I've cut the job short thinking 'this is a waste of time'. PRs, managers and agents can be a complete pain in the arse sometimes, but by no means all of them. I once went to photograph some woman, who's name escapes me, who had a fashion show on BBC2. I was met by her PA who started questioning me about what I was going to do, what pictures I wanted to take etc. So I said to her, I need to see what the location is first, and quickly think through what I was going to set up. She started ranting on about time, you're supposed to be a professional, you must know what you are going to do etc, so I said to her, 'I know exactly what I'm going to do'. 'What's that?' she said. 'I replied, get back in my car and bugger off, as I don't need your shit at 9:00 in the morning!!' 

I haven't been injured beyond the ability to keep working, but the worse injury was the only time I have had equipment damaged too. I was in Coldstream, a small town on the border with England, and I was photographing a real feel good story about a baby that had been born really premature. If I remember correctly, the baby was young enough to have been within the legal abortion time 24 weeks or so. She was well under a pound at birth. Anyway, we had the family exclusively for baby getting home from the hospital. Spent all day with them, photographs in the hospital, arriving home, family set ups at home etc. The office phoned to say they wanted a picture of them outside the house, so out we went, and I got them set up. I dropped a couple of frames, and a really wide caravan mounted the pavement as it was on a bend and took me out. The driver keeping going on his merry way. I was a bit sore, but nothing broken, so got back up, to find my 17/35 lens was destroyed, but the body was ok. I filed one of the two frames, and after a coffee headed off home. I was a bit stiff for a few days, but that's been my worst injury. My gear has had some nightmare soakings, but one of the benefits of pro gear is it will put up with a bit more than consumer cameras, and it has never let me down.'


If people want to see more of your works, where should they look?

'Unfortunately, I don't currently have a website, although I am in the process of putting one together, mainly for my personal work, but will include some of my press work. I do have a 'business page' on facebook, and have a blog which is sporadically updated.'


And finally, what's your favourite joke?

'Favourite joke? I don't have a favourite, but possibly the first joke that I ever remember being told, was by my Grandad when I was about 5 or 6. What do you call a deer with no eyes? No eye deer (No idea!!) Not the funniest, just a memory lol.'


I'd like to thank Wullie again for taking the time to answer a few questions for me, be sure to check out all the links above for more of his work.


Ian
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