November 2011, Photographer of the Month – James Arthur Allen
James is a final year Press and Editorial Photography student at Falmouth University. Based in Cornwall for 6 months of the year and Bath for the other, he specialises in Documentary and photojournalism. His work is fresh, vibrant and exciting but more importantly his images tell us a story, raising narrative on topics that many photographers would not dare think of or attempt to cover.
It is with great pride that digi-quick.co.uk introduce James Allen as our first photographer of the month. He is the epitome of the local pool of talent that Cornwall has to offer when it comes to photography. He isn’t another unqualified wedding photographer or snapping simple Cornish land and seascapes (not that there is anything wrong with that). He is a thoughtful and intelligent professional that is unfortunately, slowly becoming a dying breed. Ladies and Gentleman, we bring you an interview with James Allen, some of our favourite photographs by him and throughout the month there will be more photos and exclusive photography tips directly from James ……..
Tell us a little bit about yourself….
I have been studying photography for the last three years, for the last two at the University College Falmouth where I am entering my final year on the Press and Editorial Photography degree. I specialise in Documentary and photojournalism, the course has really pushed and encouraged me to pursue my own ideas and projects.
Where do you live?
Six months of the year in Falmouth in sunny Cornwall and the other six in and around Bath and the West country.
Favourite 5 photographers….
This is a hard question! Stanley Greene, Tim Hetherington, Dominic Nahr, Donovon Wylie,
How do you keep yourself motivated and your photography fresh?
Constantly look at other peoples work for inspiration and drive. To me other peoples pictures always look better than mine, this drives me to work harder next time, also find yourself some friends who will be honest with you, the worst thing you can have around you is “yes men”. If im ever 100% happy with a project I’ll probably retire or give up!
Who or what inspires you in your personal life and work?
My peers and friends I guess, my family and girlfriend have always been very supportive about my ambitions and work. Also the people I meet through photography, in particular my subjects. They can be hugely influential.
What is the best part of being a photographer?
The best thing about being a photographer is that it can get you into just about anywhere and into any situation, if there’s a story you want to tell or a subject you want to explore a camera will allow you to do that, I can’t think of many other things that would open as many doors.
How long have you been a photographer?
Seriously for around five years after I had my first shots published, but I do have strong memories of hauling my dads old canon slr round London on school trips as a kid, I don’t think any of the pictures ever came out, I was more interested in the sound of the shutter!
What type of cameras do you shoot with?
My weapon of choice is my Canon 5D Mk11, digital has come on leaps and bounds over the last five years, and that camera smashed everything in its path, its great. I do also work from time to time with a Mamiya VII, it’s a classic bit of kit.
What is your favourite photography accessory, other than your camera?
I use my Sekonic light meter a lot when shooting more editorial work, it is priceless when working with ranger flash kits.
What is your favourite computer / editing accessory, other than your computer?
Lightroom 3. I haven’t found anything much better for workflow.
What is your most used Photoshop tool, plug-in, action set etc….?
Nik software plug-ins, lasso tool is used a lot as well as Dodge and Burn. I like to keep my editing simple, I think its really important not to fiddle with the original file too much.
Are you a Mac or PC lover?
Mac all the way, converted about a year ago, my Mac Book Pro holds everything together. I would never go back to PC.
The hardest part of your job?
Gaining access to stories and gaining peoples trust. A lot of bad photographers have made things very difficult, for various reasons people generally don’t trust some one with a camera.
The easiest part of your job?
Enjoying myself, I am happiest with a camera in my hands.
What advice do you have for photographers just starting out?
Take your time and don’t get frustrated, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and try and find some one who’s photographs you like, try and emulate them. You will soon see your own style coming out in time. Also if you can, work in traditional B/W film as well as digital when you start, this will expose any faults you are making much more obviously than digital, and teach you the basic principles of photography. Don’t be tempted to take digital short cuts straight away!
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
Has to be a Leica M9.
Do you make time for personal photographic work? If so, what do you enjoy photographing and do you have an image you can share with us?
If I do it’s Landscapes, I started taking these after looking at people like Bill Brandt and Ansell Adams when I first started.
The first photographer that comes to your mind and why?
Tim Hetherington, his death last year was a huge blow for photography, a massive talent, as well as someone who has always been bit of an idol of mine.
The last workshop or seminar you attended?
A Duck Rabbit workshop run by Dave White.
Something that you are still learning?
Where shall I start? The great thing about photography is that there is always something to learn, I guess I need to learn to listen to advice from people who know more than me.
What do you love to indulge in?
Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.
Something that is overrated?
Could get in trouble with this one, safe to say a few big photographers jump to mind.
Something that you are saving up for?
A Zoom digital recorder, I have been working a lot with multimedia recently.
If you could have lunch with anyone who is famous who would it be?
Where you’ll find me on a Friday night at 9pm?
Most probably sampling the nightlife in Falmouth, Bath or Bristol.
Your favourite film of all time?
Die Hard, It is a work of art thanks to Alan Rickman.
First thing you would do if you won the lottery?
Pay my phone bill.
Three words that describe you?
Enthusiastic, Optimistic, Stubborn.
And the last question; if you had one wish?
That Leica M9 would be nice.
James is available for commission work, to contact him directly: