Digitalab Featured Photographer: Peter Stephens
At Digitalab, we know that you can’t underestimate the power of a truly exceptional image. The beauty of photography as an art form is in its diversity – with so many wonderful genres and so many utterly unique photographers out there, photography means many different things to many different people. That’s why we asked Peter Stephens for one of his images and asked him a couple of questions to find out exactly how he fell in love with photography and what he’d say to any aspiring photographer hoping to make a career out of their passion.
Hotstuff Blacksmith Exeter – John Howson
7th February 2014
These images are part of a personal project of mine featuring craftspeople & artists working within their own enviroments. This is the first photoshoot that I have planned, hopefully there will be a many more as I really enjoyed this. John Howson featured in these images is a blacksmith based in Exeter who owns the business Hotstuff Blacksmith. You can view his website here, and you can view a full set of the images on my Flickr page here. Click here to view the panorama in a larger window.
Tell us a bit about this image and why you chose it to be featured.
This image is of a local blacksmith to me in Exeter called John Howson.
The image is an Equirectangular Projection, which covers the entire scene 360 degrees around, up and down. I’ve been meaning to shoot something like this for a while, as most of my work is commercial photography of property or businesses. This image was created from 8 photos, 6 around 1 up and 1 down. This enabled me to feature John in multiple positions within the scene. I’ve done this before a number of times with trials bike rider Andrei Burton which worked really well. I decided to display the image in monochrome in the end as I think it suited the image best, though if you look at the interactive version of it, there is an option to switch to colour too.
I am hoping to produce a few more images like this featuring artist and craftspeople at work. Keep an eye on my website.
Which styles of photography most interest/inspire you?
I enjoy looking at most styles of photography. I do quite like dark moody photography, for example, landscape photographer Ansel Adams or, more recently, the photography of abandoned places – neither of which I have time to go out and shoot myself, but hopefully one day. Apart from that, I have a lot of interest in interactive photography, such as the image of the blacksmith mentioned earlier. It’s a lot of fun, and there are many creative ways of using it and challenges for getting the best results.
What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring photographer?
If you want to become a photographer as a profession, the best advice I can give you is to learn some business skills. A large part of the job isn’t actually photography, mostly it’s business… networking, marketing, paperwork, accounts, quotes, meetings, invoices etc… and quite hard work. Being a photographer is one of the top desirable jobs – and I understand the attraction, but really it’s no walk in the park.
I’m quite often working in my office until the early hours of the morning – 7 day weeks are quite common and I’ve held down part time jobs in the past too to help support my family with a reliable income. Unless you can find employed work as a photographer, you will find yourself in the position of many self employed people find themselves in with work coming in peaks and troughs.
The other advice I would give any aspiring photographer is not to worry about having the most expensive, newest camera. You don’t necessarily need it! All your client is worried about is the end result, not how cool your camera is. When buying equipment, budget for at least two camera bodies and invest in the best lenses you can afford. I’ve seen quite a few photographers with top-of-the-range camera bodies put cheap to mid-range lenses on – and you’re far better off doing it the other way around.