on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Interview with Paul Whiting

What's beyond a competition win?

Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

Flickr, Facebook, Twitter



This issue we're talking to Paul Whiting who won the Amateur Photographer of the Year competition in 2005. We talked about his approach to photography, how he came to win the competition and what happened afterwards. We first asked Paul a couple of background questions about the start of his path toward landscape photography.

Callanish

Callanish

Paul: I was thinking back to where photography first started fitting into my life. In between finishing A Levels and when I was doing university I’d do summer jobs and I managed to scrabble enough money together to get some Canon SLR’s. It was obviously film then.

Tim: When was this?

Paul: Oh let me think: 1986

Tim: .. you went to university doing?

Paul: I went to university in 1984. I went out in Essex, I was an Essex boy then, grew up in the Midlands actually, ended up in Colchester. Don’t know if you know that part of the world?

Tim: I do yes.

Paul: Yeah, interesting place - I’ve never been back. I did meet my wife there, so there was one good thing that came out of it.

I’d gotten enough pocket money together to go and get things like ... I think my first one was probably a Canon T70 or a T90 maybe. I bought it, was really delighted with it and then it broke - I took it back to Comet where I bought it from and they said “Yeah we’ll fix that for you” and called them up a week later and said “How’s it going?” “Yeah, yeah”, two weeks later, “Yeah”, three weeks later “Yeah, yeah, no problem we’ll sort it”. About a month later I went in and said “You know this camera, have you still got it?” And they went “Well actually the technician has run off with it, so we haven’t got it!”

And they said “Look, okay have your money back”, and I went down the road to a camera shop and bought an EOS 620. So that was my run around SLR. I wasn’t really doing landscape as such then, I was just generally interested in wondering around and capturing things that interested me.

Charlie had got a Hasselblad and medium format projector and he was starting to show some of his slides and I was just absolutely blown away!

Tuscany

Tuscany

Tim: Why did you pick up a camera in the first place?

Paul: Do you know looking back, I don’t even know. I mean I’d bumble along and go through phases not even really bothering to do photography that much and the sort of the epiphany moment where I really got hooked on landscape came quite a bit later.

I’d picked up a photography mag and I’d seen an advert for a Charlie Waite talk up in London and I went my wife for the day. It was probably ’95/’96 and was in one of the exhibition halls in London.

Charlie had got a Hasselblad and medium format projector and he was starting to show some of his slides and I was just absolutely blown away!

He’d got some of the iconic stuff out of his "Making of landscape photographs", Buttermere and stuff and I was just hooked then.

And so I persuaded my wife that it would be a good idea to a get Blad as well, one with an 80mm and a 150mm and I just started trying to think about what I’d seen, because I hadn’t seen landscape photography like that then.

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This is just to give you a feel for where it started for me, maybe later I’d go through a ‘Joe’ phase, but now if I look at who I would aspire to or how I’d like to think I’d try and approach photography, it is probably David Ward.



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  • John Dunne

    A really interesting interview Tim, and thanks for your candour Paul. It is fascinating to hear you experiences pre and post internet explosion. How the industry changed right beneath your feet as it ware and just things might have broken for you.

    I can also relate to your struggles with the new world of Social Media and the pursuit of Like’s and +1’s and the risks that path entails for the integrity of your image making.

    I do believe you are right though. It must be about you first and hopefully from there you can connect with an audience, rather then the other way round. SM is an immensely powerful tool, and for me specifically Google Plus, has been a great way to meet like minded people online but then follow up by actually meeting up with them in real life. That is not something I could see happening in the past, at least with such ease. I guess it is a double edge sword :)

  • Alan Rew

    An excellent interview full of insights into the mental struggles of photography, including the occasional thoughts about flogging all the kit on eBay, and worrying about taking photos that are, or might be, copies of someone else’s work. It’s not often we get insights as honest as this.

    Good to see your photos again, Paul, long time no see (L&L Dorset 2004). These are seriously good compositions, but you probably knew that already.

    You should do some big prints of these photos & get them into a gallery exhibition (if you’ve not already done so). I’m serious about this.Have a word with Joe about it.

    I especially like ‘Callanish’ and ‘Bolderwood Fog’. I also like the way that the two cumulous clouds echo the two roofs of the buildings in the bottom LH corner of ‘Capella di Vitelata Sunset’.

    Thanks Tim for bringing Paul’s excellent work (back) to our attention.

  • David OBrien

    Really enjoyed this article and the insights that Paul has brought to his development as a photographer. I know some of Paul’s image from another site and it’s a fabulous body of work.

  • Enjoyed reading that. Thank you Paul for answering and Tim for digging!

  • This made a very good read (even if I was a bit late getting to read it).
    I to have been suffering the same feelings as you Paul towards getting out and ‘Doing’ some photography (though in my case I haven’t won any competitions like you) but the problems feel the same but more related to personal goals being fulfilled. I also tend to over think things and was perhaps getting too serious (in a non-helpful way) about my photography, so reading your interview with Tim has given me much to think about and hopefully will encourage me to simply get out more and enjoy my photography again.

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