I recently had the pleasure of interviewing photographer Stephen Dinsdale, who has a true passion for landscape photography and studio work. Stephen resides in Yorkshire, works as a Graphic Designer, and is married with two young girls. The Yorkshire countryside has provided a wonderful backdrop for Stephen’s multi-dimensional landscape photography as well as his aerial videography. Stephen has a true talent and ability to capture the essence of his surroundings.
Stephen, it was a pleasure getting to know you and thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview and best of luck to you and your future photography projects. I hope to see great things from you in the future! To learn more about Stephen, please be sure to visit his website or follow him on Twitter.
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
I’m a Graphic Designer in my very early 40’s (not quite at middle age… yet!). Married with two young girls who do their best to ensure that I’m busy most of the time.
Where is home?
I live in Ilkley, which is a small town in Yorkshire, sat on the edge of the gorgeous Yorkshire Dales National Park
What were you doing before you decided to jump into the world of photography?
As photography’s my hobby, it hasn’t really replaced anything for me.
What inspired you to be a photographer?
Photography was part of my college course back in the mid-nineties. I used to love taking pics, but didn’t enjoy the film processing that went with it, so I guess I’ve always had an urge to create images, I’d just never done anything about it… until recently.
Are you formally-taught or self-taught?
I’m completely self-taught. I bought my first DSLR, a Nikon D7100, back in September 2016, and gave myself a 2-3 month target to learn the exposure triangle and the various technical aspects of owning a ‘real’ camera. I watched YouTube videos every day, and read lots of web content. Even after all that, I still felt like I needed some confirmation of my new-found knowledge, so I enrolled in a 10-week course at a local art school. It was a BIG mistake. Even though it was supposed to be an advanced course, I literally learnt nothing in the 30 hours I spent there. I’m a firm believer in watching, listening, reading, and then putting it all into practice, practice, and more practice.
Is photography your full time career?
No, I’ve been a full-time Graphic Designer for nearly 20 years.
Are you satisfied with your choice of getting involved with this industry? Is there anything else you would rather be doing?
I love both. Even after two decades, I still enjoy using my iMac to create and I also now enjoy getting out in the fresh air of the countryside to capture some stunning imagery. There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.
From looking through your portfolio on your site, I can see that you are interested in a variety of photography styles. Of the styles you have explored, which has been your favorite and why?
Landscape photography will always be my favourite. For me, the finished image is only 25% of the joy. The best part involves breathing in the fresh air, hiking around to find the best viewpoint, and seeing some amazing images with my own eyes. Nothing will ever beat standing in a remote part of the Yorkshire Dales in the dark of night, head back, staring at the incredible sky. It’s breathtaking.
Do you prefer studio work or photography on location?
I like studio work as it allows you to control every aspect of the finished image. I spent approximately a year shooting portraits, and really enjoyed the social aspect of meeting new people and challenging myself to create something different with every shoot. I still prefer location shoots though, as they always add that extra element of the unknown – weather!!
What is your favorite part of heading out for a photo shoot?
It’s the anticipation. As I mainly shoot outdoors, the weather conditions will either make or break the shoot, so I love checking the forecast right up to the minute I leave the house. It may seem a bit dull, but it keeps me entertained!
What has been your most memorable shoot and why?
I touched on it earlier. It has to be my trip into the Yorkshire Dales to capture the Milky Way. It was freezing cold, pitch black, and there were a lot of howls and other general animal noises echoing around, so I was pretty scared (I’ve watched WAY too many horror films, so my mind was racing!). After I’d completed all of my shots, even though I was freezing I just stood there, staring at the sky. It was incredible. I’ve never seen so many stars, and I could see the Milky Way arching overhead.
How do you keep yourself motivated and your photography fresh?
I don’t get many chances to get out with my camera, so when I do, that’s all the motivation I need, as there’s always something I’m desperate to capture. I keep a close eye on other photographers, especially on YouTube and Twitter. There are so many talented people out there, and it’s hard not to let that positively influence my photography in one way or another.
Who or what inspires you in your personal life and work?
I’m always inspired by anyone who gets off their sofa and goes out with their camera. Throughout my life, I’ve seen far too many people moaning about most things in life, yet they never get off their ass and do anything about it.
What’s the best part of being a photographer?
I love the potential for creativity. Photography is so much more accessible than it used to be. The only limit is your imagination. Being able to take a shot and check the result instantly is amazing. I’ve always been impatient, so using a 35mm film camera was never going to be for me.
What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a photographer?
Favourite – Seeing the final image. Some of my best shots have been literally seconds of thought, planning, and action, but still turned into a fantastic image. Even if a particular capture doesn’t turn out how I expected, it’ll still act as a useful learning experience for next time.
Least favourite – The weather forecast is utterly wrong. It’s so frustrating to set off for a shoot and then find the conditions completely different from those expected. BUT, I usually come away with a decent shot, so it’s not all bad.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer just starting out?
Practice as much as you can. Get completely familiar with your equipment and the exposure triangle. Once you’ve mastered those, be as creative as you like and don’t let anyone tell you your work isn’t ‘right’. If you’re happy with it, that’s all that matters. Local social media-based camera clubs are a good idea, as they allow you to chat with fellow photographers online and also meet up for some practical advice.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What’s your favorite lens?
I currently use a Fujifilm X-T2 and a DJI Mavic Pro drone. My most useful lens is the Fujifilm 18-55mm kit lens. It covers a wide enough range for everyday use, plus its tack sharp. My favourite lens is an old manual Minolta 50mm f/1.7. I picked it up for £15, and it creates some beautiful dreamy images.
What is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?
I’d have to say it’s my lens focal reducer. It’s a fantastic piece of kit that is used to allow old manual lenses to shoot using their actual focal length – 35mm, 50mm, etc. It’s a complicated subject, but trust me – this was one of my best purchases.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
I could do with a long lens, but it’s not something I’m desperate for right now. If I’m being REALLY greedy, I’d really like DJI to release a new Mavic drone, but with a better camera and longer flight time… and make it less expensive than the previous version!
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
Very important. Every image I shoot goes through Lightroom, plus Photoshop if it requires a bit more work. My knowledge of Photoshop & computers was a big reason why I got into photography in the first place. It allows you to turn a good image into a great image. It will never make up for any deficiencies in your shooting technique or knowledge, but it will always enhance an already well-taken image.
Was there a point in your journey when you started to feel really good about your work? If so, what did it feel like to get past that “tipping point?”
Yes. 18 months ago, uploaded an image to a local community Facebook page and it received over 1200 likes! I was absolutely blown away by the response, especially as I didn’t see it as one of my best images. That was a massive confidence booster for me and my photography.
Are there any areas of photography that you have yet to pick up on that you’d like to learn?
I’d like to do more macro work. I’ve seen some incredible images recently, and they’ve given me an urge to have another go at it. I did quite a lot of macro when I was practicing after buying my Nikon D7100, but I haven’t done any since.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I want to keep growing as a photographer. Honing my skills to a point where I’m 100% comfortable in any situation. I will also go back into aerial videography. This is something I tried when I purchased my first drone in April 2017, but due to the amount of time it takes to process and edit the footage (and learn the software to do it in), I just don’t have the time to do it justice at the moment. I currently have a YouTube channel with one video and three subscribers, so it’d be nice to grow that a little, as well as continuing to enhance my Twitter following. You can visit my YouTube channel here.
Do you see yourself as a photographer many years down the road?
I would hope so, but it would have to work alongside my career as a designer. For now, I just need to keep enjoying my photography, whilst creating great images and I’m certain that some opportunities will arise in the future.