Frequently Asked Questions Explain what it is that you do. In a nutshell, it's all about telling stories. Whether I'm behind the camera, or tapping the keyboard. Doing it for an editorial feature in a magazine, or for a commercial client wanting their product or service marketed. In the end, it's really all the same process: Find the essence of what needs to be told, construct an engaging narrative, create compelling imagery through pictures and words, delivered through the most effective channels to reach the target audience – it's that simple! Really. It's that simple? Well, maybe. But if you ask anybody whose tried, they'll admit that telling a really good story is something of an art. Those stories we tend to remember, long after they were told to us in whatever manner they were delivered - from the ink on the pages of a novel, the illustrations in a children's picture-book, through to paint on canvas or a sculpted lump of kiln-fired clay, to a movie screen and even the pixels of the computer you're reading this on - it's intrinsically the masterful skills of the storyteller who weaves the enduring yarn. So the overriding premise is always this. Tell them a memorable story. Define your photographic style and approach. Stylistically speaking, when it comes to making photographs I'm definitely from the school of "F.8 and be there!". In a world gone mad with post production techniques and an over-reliance on Photoshop to lift an image's interest value, it seems like we've reached the point where a lot of photography is no longer believable. I try to hold fast to an approach where credibility is maintained in the work I produce. This even applies to the advertising work I do for commercial clients. I believe the pendulum may have swung a little too far into the corner of 'effect for the effects sake' and those kinds of images border on being illustrations rather than purely photographs. That's fine for some, but to my mind, the photographs that truly move us are the ones that could only have been captured in the fleeting episodes of real life that unfold before us. I try to remain vigilant, prepared, ready to catch those happen-chance cameos as they occur. From time to time, serendipity offers up such a moment and allows for my camera to ensnare the reflection of light. When it does, my heart is lifted. Film or digital? Both, actually. While I began my career in the days before digital capture, shooting much of my work on venerable emulsions like Kodachrome and Fujichrome Velvia, and also developing and printing from silver gelatin black & white negatives in a "wet" darkroom, I was an early adopter in the digital realm, scanning and digitizing that film to work on it with design programmes to build my own websites, etc. So I'm not exactly a luddite when it comes to electronic media, and while much of the work I do now is captured digitally, given the budget, I would still never turn my back on employing those subtle nuances and look that traditional film grain can give to an image, wherever I felt it to be appropriate. So yeah, I haven't pawned all my film cameras yet and I still like to shut myself away and print in the darkroom. So what kind of camera do you use? I think most photographers hate being asked that question. It seems to suggest that it really just came down to the kind of camera we use to come up with a great image, and we're slightly insulted by that insinuation. The usual responses to it I hear most often are: "the camera is only a tool" and "would you ask a writer what sort of pencil they made notes with, or a builder what hammer he uses!" But even though the camera is but one part in the creative process, it is still a vital instrument in it, and is such a precision-made tool. So I'm happy to acknowledge the camera-maker has played a considerable part in making my photographs what they are. I recall an interview with one of Nikon's senior engineers, Ikeno Tomohisa, discussing the attention they paid to the slightest audible sounds the camera made as the photographer took a picture. Then they worked to minimise all perceptible noise that might distract the photographer's concentration in that zen moment while releasing the shutter. Now, when I pick up my Nikon, I often think about those nameless engineers who built this precise mechanical tool, and I have a great deal of respect for their genius. That camera has, after all, been the key to enter the door into the lives of people and experiences I would otherwise never have known. How can I not be grateful to them for that? Do you think digital cameras have made it easier to be a photographer? On the one hand, yes, I think many people now find it much easier to operate a camera and arrive at a more satisfying result than in days past when using film. But that's not entirely due to the digital sensor, but rather, it has more to do with the advanced metering systems integrated into modern cameras, which now happen to record through a digital sensor. Remember, many of the earlier film cameras didn't even come with any kind of internal metering at all. For instance, if film cameras a decade ago had the same metering technology available to them as today's digital equivalent does to provide correct exposures, I'm sure we would have seen a larger take up of photography back then, just as we have done in the so-called digital revolution that has followed. Likewise, if digital cameras, and even cellphone cameras, etc had the poor metering systems of early film cameras we would probably see fewer users, due to the dismal results. But, just because a camera is able to produce more accurate exposures than they did in the past does not necessarily make it easier to be a photographer. Photography has always been about capturing light. That part hasn't changed. The art of photography is about recognising the quality, or the essence, of the light that can be captured within the device we call a camera. Point a camera at most things and it will record an image, so long as there is some kind of available light to do it in. But does it create a photograph that triggers a reaction from those who view it? Not that often. Sure, we may recognise the object or form portrayed in that image, and if we possess an emotional connection to it -a newborn baby, a favourite pet, or even a deceased relative- a context so speak, then yes, that photograph will have meaning for us and maybe move us emotionally. We call them family snaps and they are important to our own personal visual history. But to a disassociated viewer, that same photograph probably has little or no meaning for them at all. To prove this point, just try approaching complete strangers with your family flip-album and see what kind of interest you get from them towards those pictures. The "photographer" on the other hand -being one who professes to make pictures for others apart from themselves- must interpret that reflection of light in a manner that will resonate with a much wider audience, and that is a terribly underrated skill. Sophisticated camera technology has in no way made that part any easier. Understanding the distinct and complex language of making images that 'speak' to an audience is the most difficult part. All the rest, exactly what buttons to push on the camera, is answered in the instruction manual that comes in the box.