I am pleased to share an interview that comes all the way from the quaint coastal town of Poole in Dorset on the south coast of England in the UK. Tanya Smith is a fine art and stock photographer who draws inspiration for her exquisite images with careful observation of her surroundings. Tanya’s body of work is quite expansive and her passion for her craft is quite obvious.
Tanya, thank you for allowing us to learn about your love for photography and for allowing us to get to know a bit about you. You are a brilliant photographer and your photographs are a true celebration of your art. Your body of work is truly inspiring.
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
I am a fine art and stock photographer living on the south coast of England. I was born and grew up in Bournemouth, Dorset. I’ve always been a creative and artistic person, passionate about nature and the world around us and I love to go out walking with my camera whenever I can.
Where is home?
Home is Poole in Dorset, United Kingdom.
What inspired you to become a photographer?
I have loved taking photographs for as long as I can remember although using only a very basic compact camera for years. I bought my first SLR a Canon EOS 300 35mm film camera in the late 1990s which opened up a whole new world to me and it was being able to experiment with aperture and shutter speeds to get different effects that really inspired me to take photography more seriously.
What has been the easiest part of learning about photography?
The easiest part of learning about photography for me has probably been the move from film to digital. I liked the fact I could see the image I had taken immediately and learnt how to read the histogram. I could also take as many photos as I wanted which meant I could experiment much more with aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc without the expense of developing film. I could see straight away the mistakes I was making and so adjust settings accordingly. It made learning so much easier and faster.
What has been the most challenging part of photography?
The most challenging part of photography for me is macro photography but it is also my favorite. When shooting extreme closeup the depth of field is very shallow so precise focusing is very important. Photographing insects is always a challenge due to their quick movements and a lot of patience is needed in order to get the right composition and focus. I also like to photograph most of my flower shots in situ outside so even a slight breeze can have an effect but that is all part of the challenge.
How did you develop your style?
My style is something that I think developed just from my love of taking photos to showcase the natural beauty of flowers and nature.
Who or what inspires you in your personal life and work?
I’m inspired by nature and the outdoors. I am passionate about wildlife, especially insects and flowers. I also find inspiration in the work of other photographers too be they amateurs or professionals.
What drives you to create; does it satisfy a need or passion?
I am always striving to create better and better photos, looking for that perfect shot. It is that quest for perfection that drives me, the need to keep improving and learning all the time. I’m not sure I am ever completely satisfied because if I was I maybe wouldn’t have that drive to keep going but when I sit down at my computer at the end of a successful day of shooting and see the shot that says yes.. nailed it!! There is no better feeling.
How do you keep yourself motivated and your photography fresh?
I simply love getting out with my camera and taking photos so I’m always motivated. There are so many things that make a great photograph and I am always looking for new ideas. I have been sat in a coffee shop and started taking photos of the cups, just things like that can spark my interest.
What is your favorite part of heading out to a new location?
My favorite part of heading out to a new location is the anticipation of what I might find there. Maybe it’s an insect I haven’t photographed before or a particularly beautiful landscape scene or a wildflower I haven’t seen before. There are so many new photo opportunities out there just waiting to be found and captured.
What has been the best source of information along your photography journey (workshop, online forums, classroom, mentor, etc)?
I am completely self-taught so have used books, magazines, and the internet as a source of information.
What do you hope viewers take away from your images?
I hope viewers just enjoy my images and can appreciate the beauty of our natural world and if it inspires them to get out and try it for themselves then that is great.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
I use a Canon EOS 7D. My favorite lens is my Canon 100mm f2.8L IS Macro but I also love my Canon 40mm pancake lens as it is so light and unobtrusive. I also have a Sony RX100 3 which I always carry with me in my bag so I never miss a photo opportunity.
What is in your camera bag?
It depends on where I am going but I like to travel as lightly as possible and really hate being weighed down with lots of equipment so usually, I only carry my camera, macro lens and either my Canon 35mm f2 or 40mm pancake lens along with spare memory cards, lens cleaning cloth and small reflector. I also have a Canon 70-200mm f4 lens which I sometimes use.
What is your favorite photography accessory?
My favorite accessory is my probably my reflector. I have a large one for use at home and a smaller one for travels. I find it invaluable for bouncing light into the shadows when photographing plants and flowers.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
I shoot RAW files so editing software is very important. I use Adobe Lightroom for most of my processing having created a few presets which help to speed up my workflow. I use Photoshop for anything I can’t do in Lightroom and also for my texture and paint effects that I add to some of my fine art photographs.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
My worst experience to date happened a few years ago when a friend asked me to photograph a shop interior for the owner’s website. It was a hot day, the lighting was awful, customers were getting in the way and I just felt rushed and under pressure. It was not a good experience and something I would not wish to repeat but I did learn from it which is what it’s all about really, learning from bad situations and making mistakes then moving on.
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?
One of my favorite photo sessions was on a trip through the Highlands in Scotland last year. The mountain scenery is absolutely stunning there and I got some beautiful landscape shots. Three of the shots I took there have sold as prints so it is also one of my most successful sessions to date. My partner would keep stopping the car to let me get out and take the photos at different points along the way. It was a wonderful and memorable trip.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
Photography is my passion and my life so I will continue to take as many photographs as I can. I also plan to keep going with the stock and fine art photography and hopefully keep growing and improving as a photographer.