Inside this issue
I am a photographer who lives in Kent, I studied photography at college and worked in a professional photo lab for 15 years. I have been a Licensed London taxi driver for over twenty years, I find taking pictures in the tranquility of the landscape the perfect antidote to the busy 'hustle bustle' of London life, who balances the hustle bustle of driving a cab in the city with the tranquility of the landscape.
Can you tell me a little about your education, childhood passions, early exposure to photography and vocation?
I enjoyed school and growing up in NE Kent, Art and sports being my favorite subjects, Art being my strongest. I particularly loved the social aspect of school and maybe that’s why I'm such a big advocate of social media these days, (I often liken it to the playground as a place of fun with its cliques and squabbles.) and I also find it a great way to keep up to date with other photographers work.
My Uncle had the biggest influence on me photographically growing up, he would keep me supplied with film, cameras, stories and pictures of far-flung places and people, he was a great photographer.
Terry (I was named after him) had turned pro after finishing national service in the late 60's and worked in the famous John French studio in London alongside Terence Donavan who would often visit... it all seemed so magical and sexy to me growing up as a boy, I was instantly hooked by the pictures and the stories.
What are you most proud of in your photography?
I think it has to be the project that I am currently working on “Southbound and Down” I’ve really enjoyed exploring this subject and is now really starting to feel personal to me.
My proudest moment came this year when Finn Hopson (click to read our interview with Finn) invited me to exhibit it alongside himself and work by Valda Bailey and David Baker at his gallery in Brighton (we featured the 'Southbound' Exhibition in March 2015), They are all such great photographers, it has been a real pinnacle for me
In most photographers lives there are 'epiphanic’ moments where things become clear, or new directions are formed. What were your two main moments and how did they change your photography?
I was a little unsure of which direction to take my photography once my children had grown up, I had started shooting weddings but found it very time consuming and creatively dissatisfying.
I had just come across David Noton’s book 'waiting for the light', The notion of standing alone in a field at 4am with an early morning dew and just a dawn chorus for company appealed greatly to my soul, around that time also, an image by Anthony Spencer of a lavender field taken at Dawn in Somerset pushed me into action, I booked myself onto a workshop Antony was running with another photographer ... A photographer I had never heard of..... Doug Chinnery.
Meeting Doug was quite an epiphanic moment as it turned out, he introduced me to new styles of photography and photographers, he encouraged me to experiment and be creative, I learnt so much from him in the early days, he is now a good friend and I enjoy assisting him on his London workshops.
I think the second E moment came when I discovered the work of Michael Kenna, In particular the way in which he broke down his composition to its most simplest form, extracting colour, using just tone and subject to create such powerful images, This simplification was a real gearshift for me in the way in which I thought and looked at composition
Tell me about why you love landscape photography? A little background on what your first passions were, what you studied and what job you ended up doing
I left school in 1982 halfway through A levels to work in a photographic lab in London that was owned by a friend of my uncles. I knew at this point I wanted to become a Photographer and this seemed like a great way to get into that world, I worked there for 14 years, developing and Printing, and this was really where my I feel my education began.
I made the switch from lab to cab in 1994 after I was made redundant following a recession and the emergence of digital imagery. I had a young family to look after, and had to rethink my future.
I did the Knowledge and have been a black cab driver for the last 21 yrs.
For me landscape photography is an escape from the long hours driving in the city with all its pressures. It satisfies 'the creative' in me and balances me! People often assume that because I'm from London and work here, its what I shoot! But the truth is, I can't wait to get out of the city to the peace and tranquility of the landscape! I like the balance I have between work and photography, I like balance in all things, it must be my libran moon as someone recently told me.
Could you tell us a little about the cameras and lenses you typically take on a trip and how they affect your photography?
I use a Canon 6d and Three zooms 16-35, 24-70, 70 -200 all 2.8L which all fit neatly into my Lowepro 400AW flipside, I find space is a big issue in my campervan and this arrangement works really nicely for me as it can tuck way under the back seat leaving plenty of room for everything else, it is also fairly light to carry.
For my project “Southbound and Down” I use the 70-200 almost exclusively, this is by far and away my favorite and most used lens.
What sort of post processing do you undertake on your pictures? Give me an idea of your workflow
After a shoot images will be loaded onto my MacBook pro via Lightroom and immediately backed up onto an external hard drive manually (nothing is deleted from this drive ever) I then use Lightroom and a grading system to sieve through all the files on the mbp. that I wish to keep, and will delete all others at this stage. General adjustments are then made usually by altering black and white control points to bring in some contrast and a lift to shadows is made if necessary, I only bother with local adjustments if the image is worthy in Photoshop.
Time machine then backs up to my main external drive and super-duper mirrors this onto a second back up drive. Photoshop is used to polish the best only and create master unsharpened PSD’s from which I will make copies if needed for print and web.
Do you get many of your pictures printed and, if at all, where/how do you get them printed?
I print everything myself up to A2, I have an Epson 3880. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the whole process through from a visualization of an image to a beautiful print! I have just printed a large batch for the exhibition in Brighton but usually only print to order, I’m also in the process of making a handmade portfolio, I recently attended a bookbinding workshop along with Valda Bailey and Doug.
Tell me about the photographers that inspire you most. What books stimulated your interest in photography and who drove you forward, directly or indirectly, as you developed?
I feel very lucky in that I have met a lot of the photographers that have inspired me, I invested a lot of time and money in workshops early on; it has been the best education for me.
Its a bit of a revolving door as far as Inspirational photographers goes as there are so many, Some have been more important to me at different stages of my development than others, and some are not landscape photographers at all.
In the early days the work of Ian Cameron was a big influence, his imagery made me fall in love with Scotland, as did that of Angus Bruce and Bruce Percy. Scotland is now a place I try and visit once a year, but its some of Ian’s images of caramel light and hoar frost on the edge of Loch A Chroisg which remain etched into my crowded mind , His book ‘Transient light” was useful in the early stages as a technical guide.
Chris Friel and Valda Bailey’s interpretation of the landscape both challenges and stretches my imagination, as does that of Frank Grisdale, I am a big fan of this type of imagery and like to dabble from time to time.
- Michael Kenna , “Retrospective” and “France”
- Hans Strand 'Iceland, above and below'
- Salgado ‘Genesis”
- George Barr ‘Why photographs work’
- David Ward ‘Landscape beyond’
- Ragnar Axelsson “last days of the Artic”
But It’s the abstract Intimacy of work by David Ward and Charles Cramer that I am drawn to most at the moment. Other influences along the way have been Antony Spencer, Colin Prior, Charlie Waite, Guy Edwardes, Ragnar Axelsson, Jan Tove
Tell me what your favourite two or three photographs are and a little bit about them.
From the ongoing series ‘Southbound and Down” which is set around the changing landscape of a tree located on the South Downs. I just love the simple graphic composition in this image, aided and abetted by transient storm light skipping across the sugar beet. Everything is finely balanced.
Everything just came together for this fleeting moment just after sunrise, the sky was glum and I thought the morning was going to be a washout; but then gaps started to appear, then this! The penny had finally dropped and I was hooked! I remember feeling quite euphoric at the time and I still enjoy looking back at this image, Black and white conversion just seemed to add to the drama! “ Its what you’re trained for “ Doug told me…
Nebula is a favourite image of mine, I love it's abstract quality, it reminds me of a deep space photograph of of a black hole or an exploding star! the fact that it was just taken in my garden incinerator on a wide angle lens amuses me, it reminds me that there are photographs to be taken everywhere.
If you were told you couldn’t do anything photography related for a week, what would you end up doing (i.e. Do you have a hobby other than photography..)
What sorts of things do you think might challenge you in the future or do you have any photographs or styles that you want to investigate? Where do you see your photography going in terms of subject and style?
I think my project 'Southbound and down' will be going on for sometime yet, there is still much to explore there and the challenge is on to find something new, It will keep me ticking over. I would like to explore and shoot more intimate landscapes, my focal length seems to be getting longer and my world seems to be getting narrower if recent outings are anything to go by. I should also like to spend more time learning about printing.
Who do you think we should feature as our next photographer?
Ian Cameron - we don’t see much of Ian’s work as he shy’s away from social media and any sort of self promotion, yet he is one of this countries most successful and accomplished photographers in my opinion, I would love to see him featured.
Kai Ziehl his take on ‘figure in the landscape’ goes to a whole new level, his dramatic use of light and shadow creates a very atmospheric body of abstract work that seduces you. (Well! me anyway)
Steve Deer for his unique ‘high key’ take on the world, his imagery is instantly recognizable and I really enjoy the whimsical element in much of his work, he is a very talented photographer.
You can see more of Terry Gibbins’s images at: http://www.terrygibbins.com