Interview with Donald Cameron
#1 Please introduce yourself
Hello, I’m Donald. I specialise in landscape and seascape photography of Scotland, mostly using long exposures and in black and white. I’ve picked up a few awards for these, including winner of Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year, Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year (Urban category), and several commendations in the UK Landscape Photographer of the Year awards.
#2 How did you get interested in photography?
I was initially drawn to photography by a fictional BBC drama series called “Shooting The Past”, in which we’re told some of the amazing stories behind the images held in a vast photographic library that’s been earmarked for closure. It inspired me to buy a camera, and after a little experimentation I soon settled into the idea of using the land and sea around me to tell my own stories. I wanted my work to feel like there was something behind it, a message or story, rather than just a collection of nice pictures. Whether I achieve that is for others to decide!
#3 Do you have an artistic/photographic background?
I didn’t have much of an artistic background before taking up photography, but I have been obsessed by movies for as long as I can remember, and that often influences my work. Every spare moment I have is spent watching films, and sometimes I like to use quotes and ideas from these as inspiration for the story behind the image.
#4 Which artist/photographer inspired your art?
Jonathan Critchley was the first photographer I became aware of who did the sort of ethereal long exposure images I also like to produce. I’d already been working on long exposure seascapes for a while when I came across him, but he definitely had an influence in terms of directing my style towards a minimalist approach. Of course there are now so many photographers producing imagery like this, it’s definitely harder to be original than it was when I started doing these a decade ago.
#5 How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph?
Very little forward planning goes into my photography, other than checking the weather forecast. Ideally I like it to be heavily overcast for shooting long exposures, sun is the enemy, but Scottish weather is so unpredictable that many shooting days have produced nothing but wasted trips. In terms of locations I sometimes look at detailed terrain maps for potentially interesting viewpoints, but mostly I just head somewhere and see what I find. It’s more fun that way and helps avoid mimicking other people’s images.
#6 Which places have been your favourite shooting sites so far and why?
The east coast of Scotland is littered with interesting places to shoot, especially in Fife and south of Edinburgh along the East Lothian coastline. The Isle of Skye is also a particular highlight, even though it’s packed with tourists from all over the world, the dramatic landscape and coastal viewpoints are spectacular. When you’re shooting in places like Skye that have already been photographed millions of times, it’s a challenge to produce work that’s identifiably yours, but that can actually force you to think a little more creatively.
#7 What do you do in your life besides photography?
I mentioned that I love watching movies, and I write a film blog (cuemarks.com) to go along with that. For the last 18 months I have also been learning Italian, attending night classes and studying at home. Hopefully one day I will be fluent enough to travel and photograph my way around Italy, and also watch a few Italian films without the need for subtitles.
#8 What future plans do you have? What projects would you like to accomplish?
Filmmaking is something I’ve been exploring of late, it feels like the next phase of what I’ve been trying to do with my still images. The development of HD filming with the likes of the Canon 5D Mark II has opened up so many possibilities for people to move into independent filmmaking, and I’m currently working on producing my first feature length film. I haven’t yet publicly revealed what it is yet, but I’m looking forward to finishing it and seeing where that takes me. I have further film ideas I’d like to try out beyond that, but will always keep coming back to photography as I still feel there’s plenty left to achieve with that.