Interview with Simon Painter

– Please introduce yourself

I am Simon Painter a photographer based in Surrey in the UK. I am fascinated by the use of movement in my still images and the way I can distort subjects and paint with the light in a scene.
I have been a music composer using organic sounds and technology for many years and I have used the same exploratory mind set in my photography. One of my pieces was commended in The Sony World Photography Awards in 2017 and I continue to exhibit and sell my images.

– How did you get interested in photography?

I have always been a creative but never had any training in my creative endeavours preferring to go on my own journey of discovery.
I was given a camera when I was about 16 and loved to experiment with it. Many years later I found that digital photography allowed me to really explore much further. I have an inquisitive and analytical mind, so I kept returning to my camera to try out different things and learn more about photography. This returning then became an obsession and before I knew it I had become totally hooked.

– Do you have an artistic/photographic background?

I do have an artistic creative background. I have been a music composer for over 30 years creating music for television and producing and recording other musicians. I have had music on Friends and produced a number one album in the UK. I have run my own business for many years and always been interested in the design and creation of artwork and visual media.

– Which artist/photographer inspired your art?

I’m not sure I have a particular artist/photographer that has inspired me but the computer graphics that evolved during my youth always fascinated me. I think it’s something about the textures and light of these films and images that amazed me. Sometimes in my photography I can see shapes and patterns that remind me of these textures, and I love the way they combine with the real world subjects. I do love vibrant textural art as well and find myself drawn to works that are quite abstract.

– How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph?

My preparation varies quite a lot depending on the sort of shot I am trying to achieve. I have spent many hours creating setups and researching products that allow me to create certain movements in my shots. Some of this has involved building things myself and combining existing products in ways that they were not originally conceived. This then allows me to take various setups out with me so the immediate preparation is minimal but there have been many days spent getting to that place. As far as scouting locations go, I don’t get to do this very often so I have to spend time when I get to a location assessing the best places for the shots I want to take.

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– Could you please tell us something about your technique and creating process?

My basic technique is to move the camera during each shot to blur the scene but in a controlled way. To give me time to make the movements I use a Hoya PRO ND 200 nd filter. This then allows me to use shutter speeds of 0.5 to 20 seconds. I use both handheld techniques and also a tripod depending on what effect I want to achieve. I like my images to have some detail in and for blur lines to be controlled so I will experiment with various movements to see what works for any given scene. Vertical movement and some rotational movement is possible handheld. I do, however, love my more precise rotations whilst mounted on a tripod. Most of the time on the tripod, the movement is powered by my hands but I have also been using a Syrp Genie Mini, a powered time lapse/film device, for even more precise movement.
I have used Sony cameras for many years and my current camera is a Sony A7RIII. I find this to be an awesome workhorse providing amazing files with huge dynamic range and detail. In terms of post production, I have traditionally used Adobe Lightroom but combined with other software such as Skylum Luminar and On1Photoraw. I would use these others to take images further than Lightroom could easily go but the downside was huge TIFF file sizes created, especially with the 42mp files from the A7RIII. This started me on a quest to try a different workflow so recently I have been using Capture One Pro 12. I have been really impressed with the speed and stability of this software and more importantly it’s wonderful creative possibilities so have decided to use it as my main editor for the foreseeable future. I try and process my images to maintain an organic feel but to be vibrant and engaging. As all the effect is created by the camera movement my edits concentrate on contrast, colour and exposure adjustments both globally and in local areas of the image.

– What do you do in your life besides photography?

As I mentioned I am also a music composer/producer/engineer writing music for television and video production.
My other passion is cycling as a means to keep fit and also just for the love of being out on the road and challenging myself.

– What future plans do you have? What projects would you like to accomplish?

I am currently working on a project called Speed Portraits in which I combine my moving camera style with cycling to produce dynamic abstract images of cyclists in full flight. I would like to take this further and get to photograph famous cyclists both in races and as commissions.
I’m also really excited to keep developing my images and would like to investigate an automated programmable camera movement system, the sort of thing used in film and video work.
I have created some youtube videos about my photography and I would like to create more of these outlining techniques and reviewing the equipment I use.
I would also obviously like to get my work to a broader audience and to create commissioned works for clients.

Instagram @simephotography

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