The Narratographer is a landscape, model, portrait, and boudoir photographer who believes that there is no such thing as great photographers, only great photographs. He feels that today a professional is simply someone who receives money for their photography, but at the same time loses their passion too. This is why the Narratographer prefers calling himself an amateur.
He will always stay an amateur photographer as he feels that one can never be as passionate for something once one is paid to do it. Instead of following their hearts, work-seeking photographers can simply begin to produce work that they know will sell, instead of what inspires them. For this reason, he will never turn professional.
The Narratographer uses stories—which he writes for his website—to accompany his photographs and deeply immerse the viewer. The identity of a photographer doesn’t matter anymore since their photos become lies. This is why the Narratographer prefers to stay anonymous.
KeepSnap: Hi, The Narratographer! How is it going? We’re very glad to have you with us on KeepSnap blog. Well, let’s try to go back in time. How did it all start and when did you get interested in photography for the first time ever?
The Narratographer: I have always liked taking images, as far back as I can remember. When I was a child, I loved looking through old photo albums as I felt that the images held a kind of key to the past. When we look through old images, we feel we are somehow transported back in time. However, I did not take up photography as a hobby until 5 years ago, when I bought my first proper camera. My initial intentions were to record life, it was later on that I got interested in recording it artistically.
KeepSnap: How did it come that the photography styles you work with—boudoir and landscape—are so different?
The Narratographer: Too many photographers only work in a single field. It is very rare that you find a photographer who takes great images in more than one field. They are often great portrait photographers, or great landscape photographers. People tend to photograph what they find interesting. I, however, have a passion for taking images; regardless of what it is of. Of course, I have to have to see artistic potential in what I photograph, but I see equal beauty in the human form as I do a beautiful landscape. On top of that, I adore portrait photography, street photography and have started to dabble in macro photography also.
KeepSnap: Can you link some event or memory from the past to your decision to work with these two genres?
The Narratographer: Sadly no, I cannot. I simply want to record the world and the people in it from my own viewpoint, in my own style. Photography is about making the world look how you want it to look. I see no sexuality in the way I photograph women, I see it more as an exhibition of femininity. I think it all stems from being unhappy with how ugly the world is becoming and trying to turn back the clock, by way of my images, to a time when it was more beautiful.
KeepSnap: What role does photography play in your life? Do you think of it as of your hobby, passion, or work?
The Narratographer: I guess it is all three. I have a day job, which couldn't be further from my work as a photographer. I do get paid for my photography, but I will not take on commissions where I have the style of the images dictated. If somebody wishes to buy my work, then that is fine. I have turned down numerous commissions for some big clients, because that is a road I do not wish to go down.
KeepSnap: Your landscape photographs look crispy, atmospheric, and massive but still very cozy. And your boudoir pictures are sensual, neat, and mesmerizing. Did you develop this style by yourself through trial and error or was there someone or something who inspired you and helped you shape your style?
The Narratographer: I started off taking landscapes and cityscapes in a really bad HDR way. For me, it was all about tones and colours and little else. This was 5 years ago and it took me a good two years to grow out of it. Now, I try and focus primarily on composition and texture. I want the images to feel touchable, as if the viewer is somehow included in the scene. Regarding my model work, I have only been doing this for a couple of years. Initially, I started off taking crass glamour and I wasn't very good. I soon discovered that I couldn't take “great” images in a style I didn't feel was attractive. So I started to try and make the models look how I would find them most attractive. My boudoir style is very desexualised, very innocent. I like trying to show a model’s vulnerability, whether it is there or not.
KeepSnap: What was your first camera that you used to take a professional photo? Have you got a favorite camera that is somewhat sacral to you?
The Narratographer: :). I change cameras every 6 months, or there abouts. My first “proper” camera was a Canon 400D. It was my first dSLR. Currently, I shoot with a Canon 5Dsr and a Sony A7RII. I also have a Hasselblad 500C/M. I have to say, the Canon 5Dsr is amazing. The level of detail and clarity it produces with prime lenses is nothing short of sensational. I use it wherever I can. But my favourite camera/lens combination would be the 5Dsr with the Canon 85mm f/1.2L. The colour it produces is so creamy and natural that I love everything it takes.
KeepSnap: We loved your portfolio! But we have a question. Almost all of your landscape photos have water on them in this or that form and sometimes they look as if they were taken just before or after the rain. Why is that?
The Narratographer: That’s because it always rains in England! This is certainly not intentional, however I love the effect that rain has on an image. Polarisers work best at deepening saturation when there is moisture in the air. Water deepens saturation but causes reflections, polarisers reduce reflections. So, if you are photographing a wet landscape, the colours are intensified.
KeepSnap: Now let’s talk about your boudoir photography, which looks like an unknown and mysterious world to us and most of the photographers. How do you get connected with models? Or do they contact you themselves?
The Narratographer: Initially, it is quite simple. You pay them money. Once you have gotten good at it and developed a portfolio, they want to work with you as your work in their portfolio will get them work. It is very much a means to an end for everyone in the industry. Very few models do it for the art, they do it as a job. However, I try not to work with those sorts of models and prefer to only work with those who actually want to create something artistic. There are numerous websites where models, photographers and makeup artists can connect with each other and this is a good place to start.
KeepSnap: Is there a stylist who chooses the right make-up and clothing for the models or is it just you and the model? Please shed the light on this secret for us and our readers.
The Narratographer: No, I never work with makeup artists. I do not even let the model do her own hair or makeup. I want her looking how she naturally looks. I never try and create something, I try and capture something. It is imperative to me that I capture the real person, and not something she is trying to be.
KeepSnap: What is your favorite photography genre, landscape or boudoir, and why?
The Narratographer: I love and hate both in equal measure. If I do more than two model shoots in a week, I hate it. If I do more than two lots of travel photography, I hate that also. Both are each other’s salvation, and I use each to break the monotony of the other. I really do not think I could pick a favorite.
KeepSnap: On your website you mentioned that you don’t like wedding photography and would never like to cover a wedding. Why?
The Narratographer: I cannot photograph anything contrived, and a wedding is a staged event. I don't particularly enjoy weddings, and I see little artistic possibility in them. However, I did photograph a colleagues wedding as a favour and it was quite possibly the most challenging, most stressful photography I have ever done. I didn't enjoy it, didnt like it and I will never do it again :).
KeepSnap: And another question about your photography career. Did you receive any special education in photography or are you a self-taught photographer? Do you think education and professional gear are important to become a good photographer?
The Narratographer: Completely self-taught. Though my background is in physics, so I understand how light works. I work only with natural light and when I look at a possible image, I do not do so artistically; I do so scientifically. I know how the light works and what it is doing and I adjust everything based on that. But no, I have never taken a course in photography or anything related.
KeepSnap: Your work with people a lot and know exactly how to capture the right emotions and make candid portraits. Most of our readers are portrait, event, and wedding photographers. What qualities does a good photographer that works with people need to have and what does it take to capture an awesome portrait shot?
The Narratographer: The ability to make the model feel like she is not being photographed. Whenever you point a camera at anyone, they become someone else. They act, they try and look good and this is not good for candid portraiture. You need to get out of the models way and let her be herself. I think what helps this along is being a good talker, engaging the model in distracting conversation so that she forgets that you are a photographer and starts to look at you as a friend. That way, her guard is let down and her narcissism dissipates.
Corfe Castle. There is no better place in the world to watch the birth of a morning sun.
KeepSnap: Do you have any touching or inspiring stories that you happened to live during your photography career? Please tell one to our readers.
The Narratographer: The only thing I can really think of is my uncle Glynn. He was incredibly supportive up until his death a year ago. He always wanted to see my latest work and he loved the images I took of his home town, Corfe. Therefore, my latest series of Corfe images U dedicated to him. As I said earlier, I write stories for all of the images I take - this is the story I dedicated to Glynn.
Glynn was my uncle. Well, he wasn't actually my uncle, he was my mother’s cousin’s husband (I have no idea what that made him to me). I think its second-cousin-once removed-in-law. Or something like that :). Either way, he was quite possibly the most gentle, most decent person I have ever had the opportunity to meet. He had lived in Corfe for the last thirty or so years, having moved down here from Huddersfield when he was in his early twenties. He met his soon to be wife, got married and never returned north. He never lost his accent, but he became a Dorset man, through and through. Up until about 18 months ago, I barely knew him, but spent the latter part of 2014 really getting to know him. He liked me and became a bit of a father figure. He showed huge interest in my photography, his favourite ever image being one I took of Corfe a few months before. He loved to see how it looked in the mist and sunrise from the top of the hill and he would offer me suggestions on where I should go to get the best views. This hill was his favourite place and although he had gotten older and could not longer bring his dogs up here for walks, he used to tell me how this hill gave the best views of the castle and village. He was one of the most popular people in the village and he would often frequent the local British Legion. He took me in there a few times, introducing me as his "nephew, the photographer". He knew everyone, and everyone knew him. What's more important, everyone who met him, liked him. They loved him, in fact. He was such a kind person and one of the funniest people I have ever met. He was a giant of a man, at least 6ft 4 but built like a coat hanger; wiry and slight. But his heart was as big as all of Dorset and he is missed sorely. He died suddenly last January. Ever since then, I haven't been able to come back to this hill to take photos. That was until this morning. I am happy with this image, I wish I could have shown my "uncle."
KeepSnap: And any funny or ridiculous things worth sharing?
The Narratographer: Probably the images I used to take of my best friend, Anthony. He had this ability to make the stupidest faces I have ever seen and he was always the person who I tested my new camera’s/lenses out with. The last time I saw him, he pulled this ridiculous face and I managed to get a photograph of it. I uploaded it to Flickr and Getty Images signed it. It is now for sale across the world. There is no accounting for taste :).
KeepSnap: What do you do now and what plans do you have?
The Narratographer: The plan is to develop my style further. In 2016, I want my images to be more emotive, more inspiring. I try to not become pigeonholed in any particular style. Therefore, my style will evolve somewhat. I never plan to turn professional, it is not something I want to do. I feel that becoming professional would kill something within me and it is not a risk I want to take.
KeepSnap: What professional literature can you recommend to our readers?
The Narratographer: The only person I really listen to regarding photographic style is Jimmy McIntyre. His work is exceptional and like myself, he writes many tutorials that are incredibly inspiring. He is a great photographer and well worth checking out at throughstrangelenses.com
KeepSnap: And the last thing. What do you think about KeepSnap’s idea and what tips can you give to our photographers so that they don’t look for clients anymore but make clients find them themselves?
The Narratographer: It sounds like a great idea, but being a photographer who does not look for or work with clients, I am probably not the best person to ask. For me, photography is about creating art, not making money. But that is just my opinion for me, and I fully support people carving out a career in this tricky business.
KeepSnap: Thanks a lot for your time, excellent tips, and exciting stories, The Narratographer! It was great to have you with us. Good luck!
The Narratographer: You are more than welcome, very interesting questions.
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