I developed a passion for photography in my late thirties. I had been suffering from a serious health issue and had become quite bored and disillusioned. While recovering, I started taking photographs and after a while I did my first craft fair. I sold a couple of prints (admittedly to friends – bless them) and made the princely sum of £20!
However, I was encouraged by some of the feedback I received and decided to teach myself more. Within a six-month period, I had fallen in love with photography and I have never looked back.
I began with a 35mm Pentax SLR film camera, and my first successful image was of Druridge Bay in Northumberland. It featured some tapering foundation supports, for a removed outfall sewer pipe! It still sells well today and although, technically, I can see the flaws, people like it for what it represents and don’t seem to mind that it’s not the ultimate in quality. It reminds me that character, subject matter and form are what many want, and that how an image makes them feel is the most important thing. The technical quality, while obviously important, doesn’t have to be the be all and end all when judging an image.
Ten years have passed now, and I still feel that I’m only half way to where I want to be artistically. I love natural images, and recording things as seen, but when differing elements come together in a unique moment it’s wonderful.
I also like to interpret an image and let it evolve through my own mind’s eye, thereby taking it to a different place. This is part of the creative aspect of my work, which I enjoy and when the first print is made, it’s always a thrill (when it comes out the way I hoped that is!). The second print becomes part of the manufacturing process and the excitement dwindles.
My approach, on location, is to be spontaneous and not to have everything figured out in advance. It’s like working with a blank canvas and using the prevailing light and weather conditions to paint the background. It can be a battle deciding which scenes to capture and to catch them in time. I’ve missed so many great shots over the years; but then, sometimes you get lucky and catch something special, and all of the disappointments are forgotten.
My weather preference is mist, fog or snow, as any of these can create a veil across the scene, masking out elements and making for a more minimalist image. I strive for simplicity but it’s a
difficult thing to capture; there has to be a balance between too much or too little detail.
I’ve learned that I don’t have to go abroad to find what I am searching for, there is plenty of beautiful scenery on my doorstep. An ornate tree, a rocky outcrop on the coast, or a beautiful castle – I’ve found them all right here, and that’s why being in the North East is the perfect place for me.
You can view more of John’s work, and purchase prints, on his website: http://www.johnerwin.co.uk/