An unexpected journey
I grew up in a very small seaside town called Cromer, ‘The Gem of the Norfolk Coast’ as it’s known. A town where everyone knows everyone, and nothing really ever changes. It is a beautiful place, with an easy-going, simple way of life that you only get living by the coast.
It’s easy to see how that lifestyle growing up has shaped my style of photography, with me shooting primarily landscapes and people outdoors using natural light. Looking through my images it is evident that the coast is an important part of my life and is reflected in my photography. It was never a conscious decision to focus on coastlines, I’m just drawn to the sea, and I get withdrawals if I’m away from it too long.
Usually, when I want to shoot a specific location or take portraits, I would shoot early morning and just before or after sunset when the light is not too harsh. Like any other photographer would tell you, lighting and time of day is key when it comes to producing good clean images. However, rules are made to be broken and you get entirely different images shooting in harsh light during the day compared to when it’s overcast, producing images that are quirky and cool in their own way.
For me, it’s all about perspective and your own style. I like the colours and tones of the golden and blue hours, which you see in a lot of my images, but you will also see I have taken many photos in the middle of day or in moody conditions. Ultimately, sometimes you just can’t help what time of day you’ll be shooting, but there are ways to work the light to your advantage.
My passions for photography and travelling began hand in hand back in 2017 when I got my first decent camera, a mirrorless Canon EOS M3. It was a gift from my mum as she knew I was planning to travel and that I was interested in photography as a means to document my adventures. As planned, I fled the comforts of home and travelled through South East Asia and Indonesia for 5 months, exploring incredible countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Bali.
The culture shock was real when I first arrived in Asia, as it was a completely different way of life to what I knew but I loved it. Travelling so much in a relatively short space of time was like a catalyst to my learning in photography. There was so much beauty to capture so I found myself taking my camera everywhere I went and took photos of virtually everything — much to the annoyance of my friends — and since then, I always keep my camera handy.
Fast forward to the end of 2018 where I wisely invested in my current and brilliant camera, the trusty Fuji X-T2. I felt it was a needed upgrade from the Canon and I got it specifically for my latest adventures across New Zealand and Australia. Most of the photos taken with my X-T2 are from New Zealand, where I lived and travelled for a period of 12 months. It’s a mind-blowing country to explore, and a photographer’s dream with the countless mad landscapes it has to offer.
I was apprehensive to switch camera systems at first, but after reading the reviews and comparing cameras, the X-T2 stood out for me and I have no regrets. Yes, it’s still a crop sensor, but the images the X-T2 produces are phenomenal and I couldn’t see a huge difference between that and the full frames especially taking price into account. It is also completely weather-sealed which was a big selling point being a travel and outdoor photographer, shooting in all kinds of conditions.
Other significant factors were the colour science and film simulations behind Fuji are just unreal — and the overall functionality. Some people don’t, but I for one love the ease of the dials on top of the camera. I can see exactly what I am doing and can adjust my settings quickly when needed. In addition to that, you can customise any of the buttons and functions to what works for you and your shooting style.
I have had a very basic camera setup since travelling and have only been using the XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS lens for all my photos so far, it’s just so versatile from landscapes, portraits and even street photography it can work wonders. I also have a Gorilla tripod which, if I’m honest, I rarely use other than for long exposures.
When it comes to post processing, the software I use is Lightroom which I also occasionally use on my phone to tweak images or when I’m on the move. One negative with using Fujifilm when it comes to post processing in Lightroom is that it doesn’t always render Fuji RAW images as well compared to other RAW cameras files I’ve used, but this can be worked around by adjusting sharpness and noise levels in the drop down ‘Detail’ section as well the ‘Lens correction’ section.
It took me a while to develop a style and colour palette that I was happy with, and even now I try new things and adjust it as I learn more and more, mainly through other photographers’ advice and or just trial and error. Some big influences on my style and editing are Steve McCurry with the impeccable style he captures fleeting moments and documents his travel and experiences; and the likes of Chris Burkard and his masterful travel and landscape photography. Not to mention the countless talented photographers on Instagram and social media that influence my work significantly.
Currently I really like my images to have a film-like vibe to them. I tend to add a fair amount of grain, soften the colour and lower the saturation. I often like to underexpose when shooting to bring out more detail later with post processing, instead of having over exposed images which are harder to work with. The most effective and important tool I find is the ‘Tone Curve’.
I often use the generic S shape curve and adjust it slightly depending on the photo. Another key tool is the HSL colour panel where I adjust the colours individually and finally split toning where I use a blend of blue and cool shadows and warm highlights. When I’m happy I use a pre-set across all my images and adjust accordingly.
One lens I have been looking to add to my gear is the XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, as a telephoto lens would be a great addition. It will give me a much greater focal length, to get those long distance and detailed shots as I want to get more into surf and ocean photography. Another lens I have my eye on is the XF 50mm and XF 35mm prime lenses for portraits and street photography.
I have also looked into the X-T4 and X-Pro 3, Fujifilm latest mirrorless camera bodies, with new processor and X trans CMOS 4 sensor as well as IBIS which is a game changer in getting those shots even sharper and overall, I just really like the design of both cameras.
Photography has enriched my life in so many ways. The way I see the world has changed and the friends I have made through sharing my images on social media and interacting with the travel and photography community has given me so much inspiration and added a new level of love and drive for what I do.
I hope I can inspire anyone starting on their photography journey or those that just want to get outdoors and explore, whether that be a new country or seeing what’s on your own doorstep in a new light. My advice: get out there, shoot often, and find a niche you love.
A man from a small town with a camera & a serious addiction to coffee and travelling. Based: Norwich, England. Interesting fact: Half Macedonian.