Interview with Antony Spencer
#1 Please introduce yourself
My name is Antony Spencer and I am fortunate enough to have been able to turn my passion into my full time job. Over the last few years I have spent a great deal of time travelling especially throughout Arctic Scandinavia, a place I have completely fallen in love with.
#2 How did you get interested in photography?
I bought my first DSLR when my son was born in 2006. I saw a few of the U.K’s leading landscape photography websites and decided I was going to attempt to make images of a similar magnitude. It took what felt like an eternity to achieve this but slowly and surely I started to make landscape images that I was happy with. It’s been a fascinating journey and it’s a journey I am still on. With so many advances in technology one never stops learning and with so many continually inspiring photographers around the planet it’s a constant mission to stay relevant.
#3 Do you have an artistic/photographic background?
I don’t have any artistic background at all. My wife is the arty one who quite often says “why don’t you try this?” or “why didn’t you do that?” She is normally absolutely right but don’t tell her I said that!
#4 Which artist/photographer inspired your art?
There is one photographer that continually blows me away more than any other. Joe Cornish is a superb landscape photographer and a very lovely man who has helped me many times over the last year or so. To be in a position where I am now working with photographers like Joe really is a dream come true for me. For many years however I have shared my images with likeminded photographers on websites such as Flickr for instance. The quality of the work of so many is incredibly high and there are hundreds of photographers around who continually produce world class landscape images. I find each and ever one of them inspiring and that’s the beauty of photography for me.
#5 How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph? Are you planning every step or is it always spontaneous?
Definitely a little bit of spontaneity but the vast majority of times all the research has been done before arriving on location. Nearly all images involve rocking up to the same locations time and time again to achieve the perfect conditions for a particular image. Its very rare that everything comes together on a first visit to a particular location, especially in the U.K where the weather is generally always average to poor, producing very little in the way of spectacular light. Our forecasting seems incredibly inaccurate compared to forecasts in Scandinavia and the USA. Having said all this above I do still very much enjoy experimenting by visiting locations that are not so well photographed, occasionally this produces images that far exceeded my expectations even after just one or two visits.
#6 What fascinates you in places that you shoot?
I am a sucker for big iconic locations I must admit but what I enjoy more than anything is being creative and attempting to come up with a new angle and composition of these icons. So far I have been fortunate to be able to hand pick every location I have ever visited, as I haven’t been doing any work for anyone but myself. In the last few years I have spent more time photographing Scandinavia than anywhere else put together. The landscape in Arctic Scandinavia in the autumn and winter is absolutely magical and a great deal of it is completely unexplored by landscape photographers. With a great deal of my recent work, Aurora Borealis and Storms have played a large part in the final images. When you are working with natural phenomena such as these, one simply has to make the most of whatever location one finds oneself in. I really enjoy the challenges this presents although on more than one occasion it has become a deeply frustrating process. Knowledge and perseverance is crucial to coming away with beautiful images in circumstances like these.
#7 Could you please tell us something about your technique and creating process?
My capture techniques vary so greatly depending on subject matter. The equipment also varies in this way. I have recently moved into medium format digital photography and I’m really enjoying the huge step up in quality. Processing wise I guess I am pretty boring really, My photoshop skills are limited pretty much to what needs to be done and I have never enjoyed editing photographs very much at all. I really enjoy being out in the field as often as possible, trying desperately to get as much done in camera as I can. I use ND graduated filters for 95% of the images I make. I really enjoy seeing a very near completed image on the back of the camera there and then. Knowing I had 4-5 images for focus stacking all bracketed leaving me hours and hours of processing to do would be nowhere near as much fun. I envy so many who can do this but its definitely not for me.
#8 Could you tell our readers how to reach such excellent results in photography?
I think researching and persevering are the two most important elements as well as treading your own path compositionally also. It’s very difficult to stand out from a whole world of very talented photographers unless you can be bothered to put the work and time in to produce something new. The success rate is definitely lower, simply rocking up and shooting the same composition in the same beautiful light as the last couple hundred people before will produce a catalogue of images faster, but where is the self gratification in that? The hardest part is coming up with a concept and then waiting for the moment where everything comes together. If you don’t get out there and persevere at the same locations over and over again until everything is perfect it will be very difficult to stand out from the crowd.
#9 What do you do in your life besides photography?
I have a fantastic family, when I’m not working I’m generally spending as much time as possible with my wife and three kids. The kids are all growing far too fast and I want to ensure I spend as much time outdoors with them as possible. I was fortunate to have a childhood where most of my memories were based on exploration, either with my Dad or with friends. I desperately want this for my children. I’d love for them to see and explore the world in a similar way to the way I have.
#10 What future plans do you have? What projects would you like to accomplish?
There is so much in the pipeline at the moment and all of it is very exciting! I have workshops all over the world including a winter in Scandinavia, Canadian Rockies, Spitsbergen, Pacific Northwest and the South Western USA so it’s all a little crazy for me. I’m living a life a few years ago I could only dream of. More than anything I’m looking forward to being in a place where I can do all this with my family by my side, my wife in particular has been incredibly supportive and I cannot wait to share these journeys and experiences with her.
Antony Spencer Official Website: