Photographer interview

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About this interview

Black and white can be a hard genre to master, but when done right, the results for garden photography can be both beautiful and enlightening. Let's find out more about the winning image of this year's Black & White Photo Project.

Q1. Why the Savill Garden? What drew you to this location?


Answer 1.

I was there with my work colleagues on our annual day out. I work at Syon House Gardens and we visit other gardens for our summer outing. We have been to the Savill Garden a few times. I was a Finalist in 2016 with 2 separate images from a similar visit so it's a meaningful place for me.

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Q2. What made you think the maple would make a great subject?


Answer 2.

The tree was in full leaf and surrounded by other plants but the trunk was almost completely visible. I had hoped at the time this would make a good image with the twisting limbs and intricate shapes of the leaves - Black and white really helps bring out hidden details.

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Q3. How did you go about photographing the scene? Any special preparation or equipment?


Answer 3.

This is a handheld captured image. I noticed the maple as we strolled around the gardens; it just caught my eye while passing. Sometimes the best shots can be just around the corner, so it's important to put yourself in situations where the opportunities come to you.

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Q4. Post-capture can be important if converting to black and white - what did you do?


Answer 4.

There was a bit of experimentation but the high key style effect seemed to work well and I did not want to do just a simple black and white image. I, therefore, tried to go as white as possible but still maintain full limb and leaf visibility.

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Q5. And more generally, why is black and white an important genre for garden photography?


Answer 5.

I am moving more into black and white as I develop and learn, it works so well with architecture and buildings and I love strong contrast in images. I also love abstract as a genre and black and white can give me more options to make a striking image. Also, black and white is more forgiving, so don't be afraid to try new things.

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Q6. What other flowers or plants do you like to shoot in black and white?


Answer 6.

In 2017 I was Highly Commended with a black and white image so I guess I like to photograph any flower or plant in black and white but they have to have something that will make them stand out, either in shape, contrast, composition, symmetry or something that makes a pleasing image but with interest. There is also always a lot of potential to interpret black and white and make it your own.

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Q7. And finally, what's your advice to others entering this Photo Project?


Answer 7.

Experiment and always try to be different. Look at what has been done then do something different, because when judges are looking at hundreds of images you need to stand out and literally grab attention away from the other entries.

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See Simon Hadleigh-Sparks's profile

Go to Competition 12