Interview with photographer Luke Chapman

What inspired you to become a photographer?

I have always had a love of photography ever since I can remember, but it wasn’t until I finished my design degree that I took my love of photography to the next level.

I always remember being mesmerised by the photos I saw in magazines, and spent hours in bookstores looking at some of the great photography masters.

The catalyst to getting my first camera was seeing my cousin’s photography, which inspired me to buy a camera as soon as possible. High on enthusiasm and passion I bought my first camera without fully understanding the lenses that I needed or the style of photography I was going to do.  This didn’t matter at the time, all I was concerned with was that I had the opportunity to capture my thought processes in images and show the world through my eyes.

Can you remember the first picture that you ever took, and why?

I can’t remember the first photo I took, but I can definitely remember the first photo that I took with my first DSLR camera. I walked into the garden and started taking photos of the flowers on a hot summer’s day. I remember downloading them straight away and viewing them all on my Mac. I still look at the photos to this day, as this was the epicentre of my photography career. Although they were not the greatest pictures ever taken, they did indicate the benchmark of my talents as a novice and showed me how hard I had to work to become acceptable as a photographer.


Who is the photographer that you most admire, and why?

There are many photographers that I admire and inspire me to take photos everyday, but my favourite are fashion photographers as in my opinion this area of photography is the most creative. They have to control the entire environment by manipulating, lighting, picking the perfect location and choosing the right models. I would probably say Mario Testino who has a timeless quality to his work and Norman Parkinson who has taken so many iconic photographs.

Which photograph do you most wish you’d taken?

I love the photo by Norman Parkinson, Duchess of sevill Apple and horse, 1981 (See link  The horse’s expression really makes this shot unusual and unforgettable. It asks a lot more questions than it answers from both a creative and technical aspect of photography. It is this photo that makes me work harder to find out how he achieved this style of shot. While the concept is simple the final image is very complex and inspiring.


Which photo / series of photographs are you proudest of, and why?

I have taken a photograph of Battersea Power Station and for me this is one of my recent photos that I’m proudest of. The reason I like this photo is that although Battersea Power Station has been photographed thousands of times before, I have put my own twist on it, and have yet to see a photo of Battersea Power Station with the same concept. Having said that I do love the quote by Enzo Ferrari when a journalist asked him what his favourite car was and he replied   “The one that has not been built yet.” I think this is a perfect quote and I try to live by this motto.

What excites you most about photography today?

I love what the Internet has done in regards to opening up a generation of photographers who can now display their work to the masses. If you can get your hands on a camera, have a great idea, then you can truly create a great reputation with your talents.

With websites like Flickr and PX, these sites can show me what pure talent is on display. Just when I think I have the perfect shot, a quick five minute glimpse on these sites inspires me to pick up the camera again to better myself, but also sets the benchmark were I need to be as a photographer. In my opinion it is this mass community that is really increasing the quality of the photography. This has a bigger influence than any new camera or lens you can buy.

Which is your favourite photography technique?

As a photographer I always stick to the core basics, for me this is composition and I use it as the cornerstone to any photo that I take. In the most simplistic terms I am looking at what I can add and take away in a shot, then work out the best angles from which to take the photo.

Having said that I do like experimenting with the Dutch tilt, (this is when you shoot on an angle) but this ties itself nicely with composition, in my world there is no rule book dictating you should shoot in portrait or landscape only.  When I use the Dutch tilt I make sure that it adds value to the photo and try not to use is as a gimmick.


How has photography changed for you since going digital?

I would consider myself as a new school photographer, I have only used a Digital SLR combined with the use of Photoshop and Camera RAW,  so have no experience to old film days in photography.  I always try and keep my processing of photos to a minimum, I might use dodge and burn and crop and adjust some of the colours, but if I am spending more than five minutes processing the photo then I really should have taken a better photo in the first place. I try and keep to the same techniques that photographers have been using for years in the film era.

What new projects are you working on next?

I always try and push forwards my own personal private photography portfolio, but this has been put on hold for the short-term as I am in the early stages of writing a book for my company the Official London Photography tours. I love helping people as much as I like taking photos and with this book I hope I can help a lot more become more efficient at photography. As a teacher in photography I have a great understanding that people learn in different ways and my aim of this book is to teach people in the way that they learn best by using multi-sensory teaching techniques.


What advice would you give to a budding photographer?

The core principles of photography are simple but we all know as a photographer how hard it is to get it right, if I get over whelmed I always try and keep to the basics.  My photos either have to get lighter or darker or the foreground/background needs to get sharper or softer, or the key components in the compositions either add or detract to the overall picture. The shutter speed and aperture value are irrelevant it’s the final visual effect that is important. So the main advice I give is to keep it simple and forget about numbers and concentrate on what you are tying to achieve.



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