Featured Photographers

Digitalab Featured Photographer: Paul Berry

15th January 2014 by Alex Ingram

At Digitalab, we appreciate the power of photography, whether it’s personal or professional. We asked Paul Berry for one of his images and posed a couple of questions to find out exactly what it is he loves about photography and what he’d say to any enthusiastic photographer hoping to make a career out of their passion.

Tell us a bit about this image and why you chose it to be featured.

This image is a portrait taken in the contrasty lighting style of the old Hollywood portraits of the 30-50s a style which a find fascinating.  It was taken against a plain black back drop with two studio lights, one at front with a large beauty dish and grid attached to focus the light, another smaller light with grid as a rim light behind to catch the hair and separate my subject from the back drop.  I didn’t use a reflector for fill light in this instance because I wanted deep shadows, pale white complexion and contrast.  Some like to use soft focus techniques but I’m not a fan.

These types of classic black and white images may not be in great demand, but I love producing them.  I chose it because I love classically styled portraiture.

Which styles of photography most interest/inspire you?

I have to say without hesitation that portraiture is above all my prime interest.  I enjoy meeting people, working with people to create great portraiture, whether that be for personal or commercial purposes.  I love capturing people at work, doing their hobby or enjoying life, I love making portraiture a special moment in time yet crafted in a way that makes the photograph something special, a piece of art, thoughtful, intelligent, not just a snapshot taken off the cuff.  Commercial portraiture too can be a powerful thing if given this treatment.  I love working with light, crafting light, be it artificial in a studio setting or natural light in all its forms.  The three photographers that inspire me most are Yousef Karsh, Helmut Netwon & Cecil Beaton.

I am inspired most by the classic age of Hollywood studio portraiture and especially by the black and white photography of that age, it has so much character and atmosphere.  I have a passion for working with film and traditional analogue cameras, my Bronicas, not because of any notion of nostalgia but because it is such a tangible medium, you can touch it, feel, smell it, it’s very hands on, you can interact with it in a way impossible with digital which I find so impersonal and distant.  The whole process for me has never lost its magic and most of all I enjoy it, I will keep film alive as long as possible; its qualities make photography a pleasure.

We live in a modern world dominated by computers, where the need for speed and instant gratification rules but if I could I would move my entire operation back to film, it feeds my soul, the craft of it, the slowness of it, the way it encourages thoughtfulness and consideration, works with me and my nature. Digital switches all my buttons off, it’s convenient and has it’s attractions but I get very little pleasure from it.

I am making every effort to get out and about to do landscape, scenic and street work, again in black and white using traditional methods.  It’s another excuse to keep using film.  Quite opposite to all of the above I strangely enjoy macro photography too, of anything outdoors or in, I am fascinated by small details, parts of things as opposed to great vistas.

What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring photographer?

Learn and enjoy; explore every aspect of photography open to you, explore the craft and technical aspects as well as the aesthetic or commercial.  Learn the skills but don’t let them rule you, use them as tools to achieve your passion.  I love teaching but I also love learning and spend time with other photographers as often as I can to learn from them.

Paul Berry Photography