(IMAGES COMING SOON!!!)
Hi Rick, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for me. We should probably start at the beginning, when and how did you come about getting into the world of photography?
'I was a keen hobbyist photographer from my mid-twenties. I’ve always been an ‘artsy’ type of bloke into literature, music and visual art. I went to see an exhibition of photos by Yousuf Karsh at one of the Manchester galleries (I can’t remember which one now) and they really struck me and awoke my enthusiasm. However, for a while I was strictly amateur. As a job I’m really a writer but photography slowly started to play a more significant role. One thing I did back then was cover bands for magazines so I took my camera to gigs to provide images to go with my articles and reviews. Also I used photography as a means of not going completely mad: writing is a solitary occupation, you can spend days on end in your flat or house in total isolation if you are not careful. Photography became a strategy to get me out of my flat and mix with people. Slowly photography became more significant and I actually started to make money out of it and get published in magazines and displayed in galleries. So it kind of happened by accident.'
Photography, especially online, tends to fall into specific genres and/or gets described as being a specific style. The trouble with this is it's quite subjective, the style someone views an image to be can often differ to the style the person creating it views it as. How would you describe the work you are putting out there?
'Yes, I agree, it is a tricky one. I think with me I can describe myself as a bit of a traditionalist – although many of the models I have worked with tend to be more ‘punky’ or ‘alt’ in appearance, my style is not particularly experimental or challenging. At heart my photos are classic portraits and I don’t claim them to be anything else. I’m not out to be ground-breaking or revolutionary.'
Photography can have it's share of problems. I personally have a particular problem with self confidence. This confidence issue can and has caused me issues with my photography. Do you find any aspects of photography particularly challenging?
'Self-confidence is not really a problem for me, although I would hope that I am not arrogant and retain a healthy critical attitude towards my work. The principal challenge for me at the moment is trying to broaden my portfolio. My work is predominated by photographs of attractive women, who by and large tend to be in their twenties or early thirties. This is fine on one hand, but I do want to photograph more men and older women. I’m finding it hard to find willing subjects though.'
In my series 'Foto Inspiration Friday' I share the people, images, places etc that I find give me inspiration. Who, or what, or where do you draw inspiration from?
'I still love the work of Karsh, but also have a huge admiration for David Bailey, Terrance Donovan and Richard Avedon. I also adore the photographs of Peter Lindbergh, who I think is an absolute genius. So, your classic b&w portrait and fashion photographers are my most immediate and obvious sources of inspiration. However, I’m also hugely inspired by the cities I live and work in. Manchester is my home and I love working ‘on the streets’ as it were. I love it's dramatic and contrasting cityscape: love the way you have a load of huge gothic Victorian buildings right next to ultra-modern architecture. I love its business and creative and often subversive atmosphere. I not only utilize it as a dynamic backdrop to my work, but also when possible try and portray that immediacy and excitement in my work itself. But I love cities generally. I’ve adopted Berlin as something of a second home. It’s got the same kind of vibe as Manchester.'
Sometimes images hold a special significance to us. It can be the first image we ever made, it can be an image drawing attention to a cause close to our hearts, it can simply be an image of someone we love. Do you have an image or images that hold a special significance to you?
'Oh, I can think of thousands of images that strike me for one reason or another, but if I had to choose one it would be a snap shot I have of the particular woman in my life. Predictable possibly, but the truth.'
Photoshoots can sometimes leave you open to scary or funny situations. What's the scariest or funniest situation you've found yourself in because of photography?
'I don’t have any horror stories, but years ago I was at a gig that I was meant to be covering and I got so engrossed in talking to this girl I fancied I didn’t take any photographs. That was rather embarrassing.'
We've talked about your start in photography, we talked about your current work, let's quickly chat about the future. What have you got coming up this year? More of the same? Any special projects? Plus in regards to a more long term plan, where are you hoping your creative journey will take you in the years to come?
'I hope to be spending more time in Berlin and getting to know people in photography there. But I hope to be working in Nice and New Orleans as well. In terms of the long term plan, I still do a lot of band photography – but I do feel I’m getting too old for that now. I’m no longer as enthusiastic about that kind of thing as I used to be. I want to get involved with theatre photography. Also, my great masterplan is to do portraits of some intellectual figures: scientists, artists, writers. Those are the people who really interest me.'
We can't really talk photography without discussing gear, so...what is your 'go to' equipment that you find yourself gravitating towards the most on shoots?
'I like to keep things simple. When I’m on a location shoot I tend just to take my trusty Nikon D3300. It’s obviously only an entry level camera and some might turn their noses up at it, but it does me fine. I also tend to only the 18-55mm kit lens and one zoom (usually 55-200 or 18-105) on a shoot. This is partly because I like to move about quite a lot and don’t want to be weighed down by heavy gear. It is also because I like to work on the streets of Manchester, and sometimes work in some precarious areas, it’s therefore a good policy to stick with relatively cheap gear rather than display yourself as a target worth robbing. For gigs I stick with the same stuff as gigs can be quite rowdy places, as I’m sure you know.
On the other hand, if I’m working in a studio I will have more lenses to hand and work with a full-frame DSLR. A couple of primes. I tend to hire what I need rather than buy it, as this gives me flexibility without the investment of thousands of pounds.
I used to own loads more stuff, I had the Sony Alpha 700, loads of lenses and my own studio kit. But I took the decision to switch to Nikon for various reasons and decided to keep things basic rather than lash out on loads of gear. There’s a whole bunch of studios in my area and plenty of places you can hire gear from, so I don’t see the point of owning stuff like that. Admittedly, I can see myself expanding my kit in the future, and I do have plans to have my own studio, but that can all wait for the time being. Right now I’m investing cash in travel.'
Now for the shameless self promotion part of the interview...where can people find more of you and your work?
'This will surprise you; I don’t actually have a website. Not at the moment anyway, I had a massive fall-out with my former service provider and at the moment a I’m just working on constructing a new one. Right now all I have is Purpleport, a Facebook page and stuff on Model Mayhem and the like.'
I'd like to thank Rick again for taking the time to answer a few questions for me. Be sure to check out the links for more of his work.