Hi James. Thank you for taking some time out to answer my questions. How did you come to be behind a camera?
'I have been interested in photography since I was a child. Not long after I separated I got a tax refund that let me buy a cheap second hand DSLR on eBay (and that is the one I still use!). I continued taking landscape shots and PR shots for the Army Cadet Force (these are Crown Copyright so I don't upload these). After a bit I was getting bored so I advertised on free Facebook pages for people who wanted a few shots taken of them for practice giving them a copy of the images. Most of these were kids (and the odd animal) but it built my confidence and after a few months I joined some TFP groups on Facebook which gave me my first model shoots. I then joined Purpleport and everything took off from there.'
And, for the gear nuts among us, what DSLR was it you got?
'My initial camera was an Olympus E-410, I now also use an Olympus E-520 (and the 410 is often borrowed by my partner - known as Kuris on PurplePort when she acts as a second tog on shoots). The odd photo on the portfolio is however shot on my Amazon Kindle Phone's camera as I work on the principle the best camera is the one you have on you!'
|Model - LittleOwl|
Within your portfolio you have a mix of photographic subjects. You have pet, vehicles, sports, people, and probably some I've forgot to list. Very much in the vein of a "pick your favourite child" type question, which do you enjoy shooting the most, and why?
'As you say I shoot a really wide range of styles, mainly as I want to push myself and not get stuck in a rut. I think my favourite is anything where I tell a story or perhaps better hint at it so the viewer can tell their own. This shows what I mean...
|Model - LittleOwl|
...Who is she? Is the smoke dragon's breath? Why is she there?'
In the past I've asked people what their favourite shot is, if you don't mind, I'd like to try something a little different. What is the first (or oldest if you've lost/disposed of the first) image you took after taking up photography?
'The oldest shot since I took up "proper" photography is this one...
|Model - Nicole Watterson|
...I might handle it a bit more subtly now but I still like it.
You are, by your own admission, a geek. What's your geek poison(s) of choice? Feel free to ramble, I'm a fellow geek and love talking all things geekery!
'My geekeness. It comes from a love of fantasy books as a child (I actually trained as a librarian), this lead me into fantasy films and then to role playing games. I actually write for the Twilight 2000 role playing game and some of my images are taken specifically with this in mind such as this shot...
|Model - Josie Lesway|
...This will be the cover on my article on nuclear, biological and chemical warfare. My current project is to find models with horses or with access to military vehicles that can be used in realistic shots.
My wife enjoys reading. I on the other hand, up to recently and with the exception of magazines and comics, was more of a moving images kinda guy. Please forgive my ignorance, there's training involved with becoming a librarian?
'Becoming a librarian takes a degree believe it or not. Mine took four years as it included a whole year of placement. What most people think of as a librarian is a library assistant. A librarian is part of the management behind the scenes or will run a specialist type of library such as a business information library, a medical research library or similar. I specialised as a children and young people's librarian. It is worth noting there are a number of fictional librarians who buck the stereotype of Ronnie Corbett in Sorry, namely Sean Connery in the Name of the Rose, Rachael Weiss in the Mummy series and Terry Practchett's The Librarian in the Discworld series. Cassanova was also once a librarian...'
If you had the opportunity to shoot your dream subject, be it a famous person, a place, an object, an animal etc...what would that subject be?
'Who I would like to shoot. That is a good one. With my love of history I would love to photograph a number of historical personalities (mainly for the chats while I took them), especially Henry V, Winston Churchill and King Arthur (yes I know it's a weird mix!). As I don't have a TARDIS, I would love to get chance to take more shots in historic places either as they are or using them as a backdrop.'
If you got access to a TARDIS, where, and when would you go?
'One trip would probably have to be to the Sermon on the Mount to reaffirm what I believe. In second place would be a trip to establish the truth in a disputed event, did Harold get hit in the eye by an arrow or was he cut down by an axeman for example?'
Is there any photographers who's work you particularly admire?
'I don't tend to particularly pick out any photographer for attention, I tend to prefer to just browse images from a range (I love the way that Purpleport helps with this). Sometimes I browse a random tog and find one image I love, others I love a range they do. Much of the time it is just a matter of taste.'
With regards to your photography, do you have any regrets? Such as missing a shot, missing a chance to get to work with someone, having issues caused by confidence etc.
'Regrets are something I try not to have but after every shoot I have done I have looked back and gone "if only..." at least it gives me a motive to keep trying to nail an image I want.'
Are you the sort to revisit and re-shoot older setups or are you more in the camp who have the mindset of "I've done that setup, time to move on"?
'I don't think I have EVER got a perfect result on a shoot (or even shot all I planned) as I am very spontaneous. As a result I often retry to get the result I want.'
|Model - Klashnekoff|
Going forward, what's the plans for your photography?
'Going forward I want to expand the storytelling aspects of my work, maybe create a short photo story (which is something that I am looking at with Jules73 and Ben19 featuring Red Riding Hood and werewolves, keep your eyes peeled...). I also want to recreate some looks from certain films, in particular Conan the Barbarian (1980s version). I often don't make major plans until I actually start the shoot and the landscape or model inspires me.'
Now people have got to know you a little, and they want to see more of your work, where should they look?
'To see more of my work: PurplePort'
Finally, the hard hitting, most important question of the interview... What's your favourite joke?
'I am terrible with jokes, I tell mainly "dad" jokes (my boss has now bought me two new joke books as students have fed back how bad they are).
My favourite joke is... The teddy bear that goes for a job on a building site, the foreman introduces him to his workmates and explains he want a hole dug. The teddy bear asks the workmates what he should do and they tell him if he uses the pick to break up the ground they will shovel it out. After a bit a whistle sounds and he asks what this is for and is told tea break. They all go off and when they come back the pick is gone but the shovels are there. The teddy bear is sent to fetch a new pick and they carry on to lunch. Lunch comes and they down tools and go eat their sandwiches. When they come back again the pick is missing. Again he fetches a pick and continues up to afternoon break. When they come back, yet again the pick has vanished, the teddy bear is upset now and storms off to see the foreman to complain. The foreman is surprised that anyone would keep stealing tools but suddenly a look of recognition dawns and he looks at the calendar, "I know why," he says, "today's the day the teddy bears get their picks nicked!".'
I'd like to thank James 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.