Interview with Steve Gosling
1. Please introduce yourself
My name is Steve Gosling and I’m a professional photographer specialising in landscape and fine art photography. I sold my first photograph about 25 years ago and have been selling images ever since.
My photographs have been published internationally in books, magazines & newspapers and on greetings cards, posters & advertisements.
I particularly enjoy writing & teaching about photography and frequently give talks to photographic groups in the UK & abroad. I have run a successful workshop programme for several years as well as leading workshops on behalf of clients such as Phase One & Olympus, encouraging and inspiring photographers of all levels from across the world.
2. How did you get interested in photography?
There was always a camera around when I was a child and my grandparents had a huge collection of family photographs going back years that I would spend hours looking through. So I grew up with photography and a fascination with the photographic image.
I also had two close relatives who were keen amateur photographers – they took me out with a camera when I was very young (7/8 years old) and also introduced me to the darkroom process.
As I moved into my early twenties I combined my interest in photography with my love of the outdoors and began to concentrate on landscape photography.
3. Do you have an artistic/photographic background?
I’m a very visual person – I’ve always enjoyed learning about and interpreting the world through imagery – but I have no formal training in art or photography.
For as long as I can remember I’ve had great satisfaction from looking at photography books (my personal collection is so large my wife tells me I should buy a separate house to store them in). In this way I’ve had (and still get) a lot of creative stimulation from the work of other photographers and from reading & reflecting on the creative process.
4. Which artist/photographer inspired your art?
Over the years my landscape photography has been influenced, motivated and encouraged by a variety of sources. I’ve been particularly inspired by Shinzo Maeda (his Japanese landscapes contain so much beauty in their simplicity) and Michael Kenna (for his black & white minimalist landscapes).
However I also get inspiration from photographers working in other areas e.g. Elliott Erwitt (for his humour and keen observational eye) and Keith Carter & Susan Burnstine (for their ability to communicate ideas and emotions via their photographs).
I’m a great believer that creativity doesn’t come solely (or even mainly) from within. We don’t really start with a blank canvas – our photographs come from a synthesis of ideas, thoughts, emotional & visual responses etc to outside stimuli. So I’m always drawing my inspiration from a variety of sources – other photographers, artists, music, novels as well as life experiences.
5. How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph? Are you planning every step or is it always spontaneous?
My general approach to landscape photography can be summarised by the 3 ‘P’s – Planning, Patience and Persistence:
Planning – for example, I regularly use maps and a sun position compass to match location, season and time of day to increase my chances of success;
Patience – When I find a location & composition that work for me I’m prepared to wait several hours for the light & weather to co-operate with me (and frequently return home with nothing!); hence
Persistence – sometimes I’ll have to revisit a location several times before everything comes together.
However I do like to deviate from my preferred way of working from time to time and just go out to see what I can find. It helps to keep me fresh & the creative juices flowing.
6. What fascinates you in places that you shoot?
My overall aim is to produce an interpretation of the subject not a representation; accurate ‘record’ photographs are not what I’m striving for. And I’m certainly not interested in putting technical perfection before mood and emotion.
My prime motivation is always the subject – I look for what appeals to me visually and for something that has an emotional impact on me, whether that’s hate or love. I then see my job as trying to capture and communicate that mood in the final image.
I hope that my photographs are always a result of a dialogue between me and the landscape – a dialogue that reflects the emotional impact on me of what I see at that point in time. However it’s a conversation where I try to ensure that the subject has the loudest voice.
7. Could you please tell us something about your technique and creating process?
I prefer to work in the field in a slow, methodical, purposeful way – it’s a form of meditation and an opportunity to consider the dialogue I referred to before. Taking time to set everything up allows me to reflect on what impact the subject is having on me and what I want to say about it.
For that reason I like to use a camera & approach that can’t be rushed. My landscape camera of choice is an Alpa TC (a medium format technical camera) combined with a P45+ Phase One digital back that is capable of achieving excellent quality long exposures (of up to an hour).
I do a lot of long exposure work – it can create a mood of peace and tranquility. But I also I like the sense of dynamism and energy that long exposures can bring to landscape photography. Anything that’s moving – windblown clouds & foliage, water etc – all record as an impressionistic blur. The landscape is not static – it’s constantly changing, whether that’s over minutes, days or years and I like to reflect that in my images.
My RAW files are processed using Capture One (I’ve used it for years but the latest version is a fantastic advancement, capable of producing very high quality images). I try to achieve as much as I can with the RAW file before exporting it to Photoshop. Once in Photoshop I’ll use a mixture of that programme and Silver Efex Pro II to realise my vision.
I do try to get the photograph as ‘right’ as I can in camera (e.g. I still use Lee ND graduated filters rather than HDR in the computer) and like to do little more with computer processing than I would have done in the darkroom. But I am a perfectionist and sometimes I’ll take days working on an image until I’m satisfied with it.
My limited edition prints are produced on Epson printers using their K3 archival inks. My favourite paper for my black & white prints is Permajet’s Museum Classic (a fantastic fine art, heavyweight paper that I’ve used for a long time).
8. Could you tell our readers how to reach such excellent results in photography?
The two pieces of advice I often give in my talks and on my workshops are: –
– Photograph your passions. I think that successful images are produced when the photographer feels some relationship with the subject. If the photographer doesn’t feel something at the time of pressing the shutter then the chances are the viewer will be devoid of reaction to the final image.
– Take lots of photographs. Photography is like any other form of creative/artistic endeavour – it requires constant practice to develop and refine our skills so that we are able to realise our creative potential.
9. What do you do in your life besides photography?
I’m a full time professional photographer so I’m lucky that I get paid to do something that I feel passionately about. But running a successful business requires a lot of time and effort so I have little space left in my week for much else.
However I like to relax with my wife, listen to music, drink some wine, walk our dog and travel whenever we can.
I’m very happy with my lot and can’t imagine a life without photography being the all consuming interest it has become. I’ve even told my family that I want to have a camera put in my coffin when I die – if there’s an afterlife then I want to be able to photograph it!
10. What future plans do you have? What projects would you like to accomplish?
Given what I’ve just said then I ought to stress that my most important plan is to stay fit & healthy so I can photograph on this earth as long as possible!
Following the success of my first book, ‘Lensless Landscapes’ I’m planning a second one, ‘Photographing from the Heart’ which is about capturing mood and emotion in photographs. It will be illustrated by a wide selection of my B&W landscapes.
I’ve been working on a project of minimalist seascapes for some time and it would be rewarding to develop that further. In addition I have a number of personal projects in the embryonic stage of development e.g. ‘Past, Present and Future’ which is about life, death and the things we leave behind when we die; ‘The ‘Restless & Silent Landscape’ exploring the complementary and paradoxical character of the natural world.
On the business side of things I’d like to broaden my gallery representation in Europe and the US over the next year or two.
I’ve also got some exciting workshops planned next year e.g.: –
– Iceland (a location I love) – a 10 day trip with well known Icelandic landscape and nature photographer Daniel Bergmann;
– Glencoe/Skye, Scotland with distinguished Irish photographer Peter Cox
As usual – too much to do and too little time!
Steve Gosling Official Website: