Hello, I’m Brian. I like to take pictures and I nearly always have a camera in my hand.
How and when did you get into photography?
I’ve been taking pictures since I was a child, so most of my life. Digital photography wasn’t around when I started and my parents didn’t have much money so I couldn’t photograph as often as I would have liked. I remember borrowing their cameras when I was little, and learnt about exposure, shutter speed and aperture using a Zenit-EM. When I started working I bought myself a 35mm Canon SLR, then digital came along and I was delighted to switch over. I have taken many thousands of photographs since then.
How would you describe your work and what are the ideas behind your images?
I have tens of thousands of images in my archive, some good, some not so good! In terms of genre I tend to switch a lot and have tried landscape, beauty, fashion, portrait, street, and documentary photography. Some of those are single images which stand-alone, while others are groups of images that work together. I usually start off with an idea of some kind, either for a single image or a project, and try to construct my pictures around that idea. However, they are not deeply conceptual and things don’t always come out exactly the way I intended!
Some of my images feel a bit safe, and I really have to push myself to produce more gritty, edgy work. Interestingly, the type of camera I use can make a difference. If I’m going for a snapshot aesthetic, using a compact point-and-shoot seems to help me achieve that. If I’m looking for something more crafted and painterly where quality is essential, I’ll use a DSLR. That’s not always the case, but it’s often a starting point.
My work is often described as quiet, calm, and peaceful. These are actually personal qualities of mine so perhaps it’s true that photographs are really a reflection of the photographer and not just about the subject.
What do you think of genres in photography? Do you consider yourself a documentary photographer, street photographer, or portrait photographer?
Probably a combination of all those things, so essentially just a photographer.
Which photographers inspire you?
So many! William Eggleston, Garry Winogrand, Stephen Shore, Alec Soth, Martin Parr, David Bailey. That’s naming just a few famous ones. Less famous contemporary photographers who inspire me are Bieke Depoorter, Carolyn Drake, Mark Power, Peter van Agtmael, Rob Bremner. I’ve just realised most of those are Magnum photographers.
Would you describe your body of work as consistent?
Probably not, because I like to try different things. I do struggle with this at times, as everyone says to make it as a photographer you need to specialise. However, in my defence I recognise that I don’t need to be a professional photographer to make good pictures. Actually, I think it’s probably easier not to be a pro, so you can keep experimenting and shooting in any direction you like, free of commercial pressure of any kind.
I have noticed that my work is sometimes pictorial, sometimes documentary, but nearly always moody with lots of contrast, depth, and layers. Perhaps that’s where some consistency starts to come in, but I do mix things up and change my style quite a bit. I have been known to go minimal!
Do you prefer single images or projects?
I like both, but there’s something incredible about the project work of photographers like Alec Soth, Bieke Depoorter and Carolyn Drake. When you get a great series of images the whole collection adds up to so much more than the sum of the parts. Synergy!
How do you stay motivated?
I sometimes go through dry spells where I’m uninspired and don’t feel like making pictures, but I always come out the other side. Taking my cameras on days out or holidays usually helps to unblock my creativity.
Advice for people getting into photography?
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to be a pro. You can make beautiful images in your spare time and have a tremendous amount of fun, stress-free, while doing so. Also, don’t get too hung up about only shooting one thing. It’s so easy to get stuck in a pigeon-hole as a street photographer or horse photographer or whatever. Just be a photographer and shoot whatever you want to!