Hi Oliver! How did you first get into photography, did it first start as a hobby?
My first memory of taking some pictures was around 11 when I got my hands on my mum’s cartridge camera, I think I reeled off the whole cartridge in about 10 minutes photographing random things around the house. My mum wasn’t best pleased that I then expected her to get it developed quickly and the results were far from anything you’d put in the family album, anyway it did spark an interest - I liked the mechanical aspect of what the camera did. From that point onwards I had an interest in photography but never saw it as something I’d do as a career, I had my own 35mm camera later on but it was just a hobby. I was more interested in making things and taking things to pieces to find out how they worked and I left school with a place at De Montfort University to study product design.
This ended pretty quickly as it was way to theoretical for me, I wanted to make stuff. I ended up on a foundation course at Brighton City College to find my way. We did everything from metal work to graphics and photography and this is where I realised how much I enjoyed the process. It was a technical exercise, to load a camera with B&W film, take your shots and then process them in the dark room felt great and satisfied my desire to make something that was mine. Also you could see the result quickly - I’ve realised in life I’m a bit impatient and when I get an idea in my head I want to get it done, I don’t like things hanging around.
When did you realise that photography would be your career of choice
During my foundation I was lucky enough to meet a photographer called Chris Simpson who lived in my village. It was only because of his cat that kept running away that our paths crossed. It ended up at our house, we called the number on the collar, fate. Chris was a commercial photographer and had recently moved from London, he was on a transition to shooting more fine art work. He became a mentor of mine, he critiqued my work, helped me get onto the editorial photography course at Brighton university and also gave me a job retouching his images. After graduating I moved to London and was lucky to be put in touch with the interior photographer Paul Raeside who I assisted for nearly ten years. Paul taught me so much and my path as an interiors photographer was set. I owe a lot to Chris and Paul as they really helped shape the photographer I am today, I say thank you to you both.
I was also lucky early on to meet Lucy Gough who was starting out as a stylist. We met on a job we were both assisting on and organised to do some testing, we clicked - we worked really well together. From that point onwards Lucy would recommend me for shoots and my career grew. Teaming up with a stylist is so important in the interiors world, they tend to get the jobs and then recommend a photographer. So also thank you Lucy for putting my name out there.
What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on?
I’ve worked on some great shoots, I’d say the most interesting or I should say most enjoyable to date was shooting the AW18 tech book for John Lewis, it really satisfied my technical side, shooting products with a tilt and shift lens, working out lighting to show a product at its best and also I like tech, so the subject matter was very appealing. To some this may sound boring, but the accuracy and technical demands of shooting products really appeals to me. I must say that this job came around because the art director saw some of the images I shot with Lucy for you guys at Ruark - another one of my most enjoyable shoots. He loved the images!
Where do you get your inspiration for a shoot?
I’d say that I’m being inspired all the time from what I see around me, on social media, magazines, what my peers are doing. Trying to work out how other photographers are lighting their images makes me experiment and hopefully bring something new to my next shoot.
What’s the daily routine of a photographer
Well for me my work comes in big waves then I’ll have time off. In the off period my daily routine would be to spend a few hours replying to emails in the morning, maybe plan a few social media posts and drum up some new business then spend time with my family and try to find time to go for a ride on my mountain bike. And in the busy periods I’d be up at 4.30am to drive to London for the day or week for shoots. After the shoot when home I’d crack on with retouching and finalising the shoot.
What piece of advice would you give to somebody starting out in the photography industry?
It takes time, don’t expect to be getting good jobs overnight - you need to work hard and keep improving. Try and team up with a stylist and assist other photographers to see how a shoot works. Don’t be scared to assist for many years, you’ll know when the time is right to start out on your own. Also value what you do, don’t be tempted to work for free because you’re told it’s good for your career and you’ll get a credit. Working for free will be a disservice to you and the industry as a whole…
What is your favourite photograph you have ever taken?
There’s an image I shot whilst at university of a view from the South Downs looking out to sea near Eastbourne, it’s a very moody shot and evokes a lot of emotion in me as it is near the area my sister tragically lost her life when she was 18. I see it every day on my bedroom wall, it helps to remind me of her and also remind me life is short so we shouldn’t worry about the small stuff…which is easier said than done.
What’s your favourite photography location?
I’ve shot in many interesting houses, but I’d say the British landscape could be a contender for my favourite location…I’d like to get back to shooting more landscape photography.
How has photography influenced you as a person?
Hard question, I’ve never thought about that before. I suppose it makes me appreciate light and shape, I think I look at things in more detail and see the subtleties in every day life.
You own a pair of MR1 Bluetooth Speakers, what attracted you to Ruark and what do you think of them?
I’ve always loved the aesthetic of Ruarks speakers when I’ve seen them in the past. I’d been lacking a good set of speakers for my office and the MR1s fitted the bill perfectly, I was pretty excited to own a pair. I’m really happy with them, the sound quality is pretty amazing, they have great depth of sound. I am a bit of a bass junkie and they definitely impress on that front too. They also look great and I love the tactile control dial.
If you could describe your unique style, what would it be?
Gentle and calm.
If you could photograph anything or anyone in the World, what would it be and why?
I want to get back out in the landscape. When I was at uni I would walk for hours to find the shot. It’s very meditative being out in the landscape by yourself with a camera. I’d have to give myself a brief though, I find it hard to justify taking pictures for no specific reason. There needs to be a beginning and an end point.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Now you’re making me think. I can’t say there has been one poignant piece of advice, I’ve been given lots over the years and you keep on learning.
Black and white, or colour?
I once had aspirations to become the next Ansel Adams and become an amazing B&W landscape photographer, but for me now it’s all about colour and digital.
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