Wouldn’t you agree that an extraordinary photograph should capture a particular point in time at a specific place? Then you would concur with Sunderland, England based landscape Photographer Stuart Lawton. Stuart believes that a good photograph should project this idea fully to a viewer at a later time. Stuart strives to capture a wide variety of subjects and this is successfully conveyed with his love of photography.
Thank you, Stuart and it’s my pleasure to share your insight and experiences with our readers. You are a remarkable photographer and someone whose work is definitely worth following. I hope to see more great things from you in the future!
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
I’m a landscape photographer from England. Before becoming a photographer I worked in I.T., and I have a BSc (Hons) degree in technology. My hobbies are the outdoors (which is fortunate for a landscape photographer), computer maintenance and motor vehicle maintenance.
Where is home?
I live in Sunderland, a coastal city in the North-East of England. The weather can be chilly and damp, however, the scenery is breathtaking.
After browsing through your website, I see that you’ve built up an extensive collection of wonderful photography. What is it that led you towards this field and how long have you been working in it?
In 2012 I purchased a DSLR and started taking photographs. Within a year or so, there were people complimenting my images and a number of working pro-photographers and print/publishing company executives said I had a ‘talent’ and gave me pointers of what to concentrate on to improve further.
What inspired you to be a photographer?
I had a major illness in 2012, which led to the purchase of my first DSLR. I had always been interested in photography, but up until that point I used bridge cameras and fixed lens compact cameras. I was pretty much hooked within the first week.
What type of session do you look forward to the most vs what type of session you most often do?
I most look forward to spending time at a beautiful location with great light and an interesting sky doing tripod based work (in particular 10-stop filter work which I love). Although usually, I end up shooting handheld shots more whilst being more mobile gathering content for agencies that I supply.
What has been the easiest part of learning about photography?
The easiest part of learning about photography for me has been digital processing, as I already had skills in these applications due to my I.T. background.
What has been the most challenging part of photography?
The most challenging part of photography has been being overly self-critical of my own work.
In regard to marketing, how much of your time do you dedicate to social media? Do you use any special programs or services?
I spend about 5 to 10 hours a week answering photography related emails, maintaining my website and also my Twitter page.
Who or what inspires you in your personal life and work?
Constantly learning and improving is my main inspiration in life. I think that if there was nothing left to learn anything can become boring, but I don’t think that this will ever be the case with photography. No photographer knows it all.
What industry sites and blogs do you read regularly? Would any stand out as particularly motivational or inspirational for someone who might be interested in learning about photography?
I regularly read a wide range of UK photography magazines in print format, such as Professional Photo, Digital Camera, Amateur Photographer and N Photo. I also enjoy many photography websites, blogs and vlogs online.
When I was initially learning photography, I found the UK magazine Digital Camera, and in particular (the then technical editor) Chris Rutter’s advice, to be invaluable. A landscape photography book that was also inspiring and informative for me when I was starting out was ‘Contemporary Landscape Photography’ by Carl. E. Heilman II.
Are there any photographers out there who motivate you? If so, who are they and what is it you like so much about them?
I like many different photographers and often learn from other peoples thought processes and ideas that are evident in their pictures. The landscape photography favourites of mine are Joe Cornish and David Noton.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer just starting out?
Try to grasp the exposure triangle as soon as possible, in order to understand how aperture, shutter speed and ISO are all linked. This will give you great control over your camera from an early stage and your shot quality will reflect this.
Share with us your favorite image and why.
I called this image Simplicity. I love the elegance of the shot and the way that it is uncomplicated yet effective.
What do you hope viewers take away from your images?
I genuinely hope that my images make the viewers feel good, or at least move them in some way. That is my aim at least.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
I shoot Nikon DSLRs and mostly prefer to spend my money on new glass (lens) rather than constantly having to have the latest camera body (which I used to do at first). I have also recently started to use Panasonic Lumix CSC cameras, and have grown to love the portability and power that is contained in such a small package.
My favourite lens is my Tamron AF 17-50mm f2.8 XR (non-VC) Nikon mount. It’s sharp and it’s fast, and I work well with it.
What is in your camera bag?
At the moment my camera bag contains a Nikon D7000, Tamron AF 17-50mm f2.8 XR (non-VC) lens, Nikon 50mm 1.8D lens, remote shutter cable, Pro MCII 10-stop filter, a Circular Polarising Filter, a LensPen, and an OpTech Rainsleeve.
What is your favorite photography accessory?
My favourite photography accessory is my Velbon Sherpa 5370D tripod with the PH157Q head. I’ve tried numerous other tripods, but always go back to this one as it’s light yet stable.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
I would most like to get a Nikon D850 DSLR.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
Adobe Lightroom, and to a lesser extent Adobe Photoshop, are very important to me for my final images as I always want to access the full dynamic range of the camera from the RAW file, and also want to make any necessary fine-tuning to the image.
Can you tell me about one of your favorite or most memorable photo sessions? What made it so great and why did you like it so much?
I’m fortunate in that there have been too many memorable photo sessions to name. Notable days and locations include at York, Whitby, Saint Mary’s Lighthouse and Weardale in the UK. They were all very picturesque locations with great light on the day.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
One occasion that made me look back and shake my head was the time when I photographed the Sunderland International Airshow and had clients waiting for my images from the event. Unfortunately, when I arrived home I discovered that the SD card that I had used had corrupted and I was unable to access any of the images from the day. Consequently, I had to return to the airshow the following day and complete the whole exercise again.
Do you see yourself as a photographer many years down the road?
Yes, I do, I like it too much to stop.