Firstly, thanks 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?
'Photography became a passion of mine as early back as my school days. The earliest memory being a trip to York with the school photography club when I was around 14. A school friend of mine built a darkroom in his loft that summer, we spent quite some time up there developing various shots, but I remember that side of things not really interesting me too much. I kind of left photography alone for quite a while, but then when digital cameras started becoming consumer products at the end of the 90’s suddenly my passion was reignited. I’ve always been into technology and gadgets so this new way of shooting and editing images digitally was the whole thing that got me back into it in a big way, my first proper digital camera was the 2 megapixel Kodak DX3500.'
|Model - Alicia|
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?
'Well my style has kind of evolved from my career as a wedding photographer. When I shot weddings I always tried to shoot "documentary" style, kind of like one of the guests, just blending in on the day. Most people these days when they book a wedding photographer want what they class as "natural" and "unobtrusive" images.'
My style now I'm shooting models follows on from this so I tend to shoot very voyeuristic style images, that use natural environments and always natural light. I like to use the environment around me to add story, depth and meaning to an image. I like to tease the viewer with my images, I'm a big fan of artistic erotica, but leaving just a tiny bit to the imagination or leaving the viewer wanting more.'
|Model - Rhianna Grey|
When was it you left wedding photography?
'My official final wedding was last October. It took me nearly two years from deciding to finish to actually leave the industry as I was booked 2 years in advance, so that’s one hell of a notice period. I didn’t tell the last couple that they were my final ever wedding and it turned out to be quite an emotional day for me. I was happy and relieved but very sad at the same time. The drive home was really emotional. What was nice is that my final wedding was a really great one, so I bowed out on a high note.'
What brought about the decision to leave? Was it just a natural progression? The work load? The mothers of the brides?
'My decision to leave wedding photography was quite a complicated mix of things. Broadly speaking I was missing far too many summers with the family, the job had become more about marketing, website maintenance, admin, accounting etc etc rather than actual photography.
I was fast falling out of love with photography, and the odd nightmare wedding with a bridezilla can really get you down. Since leaving wedding work my passion has come back and I’m just enjoying doing it for fun now. I made the right decision. I feel sorry for traditional high end wedding photographers these days as the trend is fast going towards instagram style weddings, young people don't really want traditional high end photos any more, and there's so many new 'photographers' appearing offering dirt cheap packages as well. I shot mainly high end stuff and the battle with others was getting fiercer and fiercer as the customer base just kept decreasing.'
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?
'Every shoot I do I like to find challenging, that’s what gives me the buzz and the desire to do it. I like to shoot in very challenging lighting conditions so quite often I’ll work with a model in an environment I’m seeing for the very first time right before we shoot. I also don’t like to plan too much in advance as to what we’re going to do. I love the challenge of having to make do with everything that’s thrown at me and just make it work, there and then. Again, this probably stems from my days as a wedding photographer where every wedding was always different and normally a huge challenge.'
I generally work the other way, although, truth be told, some of my most successful images were unplanned... The planning that you do, is it purely a case of knowing the model and location, or is there a little more to it?
'Planning wise, I generally just have a model and a location and make it up as I go along. I normally specify to a model that as long as I’ve got a fairly decent sized room with a good bit of ‘controllable’ window light then we’re good to go.
Most work I do is TF so I generally let the model decide the styling etc.
If we’re outdoors I’ll normally just make it up as I go along too, just try to find areas I can make the light directional and 'wing it' as they say. I enjoy this approach as it’s challenging and more fun. Doesn’t always work, but there’s always a great photo no matter where you are. It’s all about making the best with what you’ve got.'
|Model - Tinkerbella|
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 guess my inspiration originally for becoming a wedding photographer was the work of Cliff Mautner. Cliff is an American wedding photographer, probably regarded as one of the best in the world and I just love the way he uses natural light. He’s a fantastic teacher as well and much of my early wedding career and thus subsequent photography really draws from the huge influence he had on me. I’m also a huge fan of Damien Lovegrove, his images are always beautiful and he’s an absolute master of light, and again a fantastic teacher.'
|Model - Mischkah|
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?
'I guess the image that always sticks in my mind is one I took of my daughter when I had just bought my first set of professional camera equipment. It was literally the first photo I took on a full frame camera and it was just an amazing photo that I caught completely by accident as I didn’t really know how to use the camera. I still look at that photo regularly and smile.'
|Model - Gabiya|
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?
'Well I shoot a lot of outdoor nudity, and on a few occasions we’ve been caught by passers by or inquisitive kids. I think the one that sticks in mind though was shooting a nude model in an abandoned boathouse and a gamekeeper appeared out of the blue with a double barrel shotgun. That was quite scary for a few seconds. He turned out to be a really cool guy in the end though and we had a good laugh about it (whilst being escorted off the land ha ha)'
Escorted you off the land...so he didn't let you finish then?
'He actually turned up just as we were wrapping up, so we were just about done. We had the feeling he may have even been watching from a distance but who knows. He was quite firm at first but once he knew we were a good laugh he had a chuckle with us. He said if the old lady who owned the land had seen us she’d probably have had a heart attack!
He escorted us back to the car AND watched us drive off. I never went back ha ha.'
|Model - Cinnamon Gaze|
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?
'For the future I’m looking to try my hand in a bit of video work, maybe some dark moody erotic style videos. Other than that, just more of the same and continue to develop my style and editing even further.'
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 keep things really simple these days. I use a mirrorless Fuji X-T20 with a 56mm f1.2 lens and that’s it. I would say that around 95% of my portfolio has been shot with this setup. I don’t believe in studio lights, speedlights, reflectors etc etc, I think all you need is a great lens, great model and some beautiful natural light and everything is perfect, the rest is down to you.'
Have you ever done the studio light/speedlight thing of have you been all natural all along?
'I’ve done and tried everything!
I had my own studio for a while, didn’t work for me, I just found the results boring and meaningless. I tried the Lovegrove method with off camera flashes, expensive video lights, you name it. I always came back to my wedding style. I only used flash when there was no choice at weddings, all of my best shots were natural light. I don’t really know how it evolved to be fair, but my speedlights haven’t been used for years now. I don’t even use reflectors.
Everyone that know me or has shot with me will vouch that all I use is a tiny mirrorless Fuji camera and an awesome wide aperture lens and that’s it! I love the simplicity, models are always surprised when they see how small my kit is.'
|Model - Renaissance (left) & Tinkerbella (right)|
Now for the shameless self promotion part of the interview...where can people find more of you and your work?
'All of my work is now on Purpleport as since retiring from wedding photography I took my website offline.
My Purpleport account is http://purpleport.com/portfolio/iocassiopeia'
Once again, I'd like to thank Ian for taking the time to answer a few questions for me. Be sure to check out the links for more of his work, and the links attached to the images for the other creatives involved.