Let's shine all the spotlights on Button Moon this week. Her work is so amazing, her style so unique. No wonder if you know that she loves quirky, odd, surreal, narrative, conceptual and anything out of the ordinary. Her warm and happy personality, her lovely dynamic character is reflected in her images. Her enthusiasm and energy are contagious, if you ask me. Discover it by yourself reading this “sparkling” interview with a very special lady photographer ;-)
Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs
Born in 1974, I was raised and grew up in a little village in the North East of England, called East Loftus. Surrounded by the North Yorkshire Moors on one side, and the North East coast on the other, I was never too far away from magnificent views and sceneries. Having plenty of woodland, and walking routes just outside my doorstep, I was never short of things to do, and places to go. My childhood was spent playing outside for hours on end, often coming back home covered in some sort of dirt, bruises, cuts, and ripped clothing.......much to my Parents despair!!
My late Farther had a love for photography, but as a child, it wasn't something that I had an interest in. I was more interested in picking up worms, and splashing around in streams. I did however, develop a love for Art, and I used to love drawing as a teenager. But this soon changed once I left school. School wasn't really something that I enjoyed. I'm not very academic, so school for me was a huge massive chore, and I hated every minute of it – apart from Art class, so needless to say, my grades weren't that great. Upon leaving school, I joined the Military, where I gained a HGV licence. I did 4 years service, did a mixture of odd jobs here and there, before finally settling down as a HGV Driver. I've been driving Heavy Goods Vehicles now for over 15 years, and my love for Photography developed by accident around 2 and a half years ago.
What first attracted you to photography?
About 6 years ago, I accidentally fell into modelling. I was looking for something special to get my Husband for our 10th wedding anniversary, and someone suggested that we get some special images done. After doing some research, and settling for a local photographer, we finally went for our photo-shoot. I was dreading it, but after about 30mins, I began to settle in, and I absolutely loved it. Fast forward a few years, and after many many photo-shoots with different photographers, I was becoming quite disheartened. I had all these creative ideas/images that I wanted to produce, but I was having difficulty translating that to the photographers that I was working with. So I took the decision to take up Photography myself. I'd made a few good model friends along the way, so I persuaded a few of them to 'pose' for me. I also had a few trusted Photographers in my arsenal, so I approached them for tuition. Now that I was up and running, armed with a camera, and an endless supply of ideas, I knew that there would be no stopping me. I knew what genre I wanted to develop, so I ran with it.......and I've not stopped running since!
Why are you drawn by Conceptual Photography?
I've always had a huge imagination, and I've always been drawn to images that take you on a journey, images that provide the viewer with another kind of 'reality', that leads you into a different world. Conceptual images have always fascinated me, and it's a genre that I've been drawn to for quite some time. I love that it allows you to set your imagination free, and that anything is possible and that it can still be believable.
Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
Brooke Shaden is a huge inspiration of mine. Her images are works of Art, and beautifully dark and mysterious. She creates a sense of elegance and escapism, and draws you in to her world of mood and atmosphere.
Tim Walker is another Photographer that I greatly admire. I love his quirkiness, and weirdness that he brings to his images. He's not afraid to be outlandish and extravagant, and I just love the 'Alice in Wonderland' feel to his images.
When growing up I also had a love for Rene Magritte, and Salvador Dali. I love how surreal, and witty their paintings are – thought provoking and perceptive. I could sit for hours looking at one of their paintings.
Artists such as these have given me the confidence to not be afraid to be different, to always push boundaries into new worlds, new journeys, and to just let my imagination run wild.
Describe your overall photographic vision.
I want to make images that draws the viewer in, and gets their imagination going. I want to give them a glimpse into what goes on in my head, how I see an alternative world beyond what's reality – a place to escape, a place to be free, and a place to see that anything is possible.
What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
Definitely the mood and narrative of an image. I'd much rather see an image that has atmosphere over a technically perfect image. I'm technically challenged, and a techno-phobe, so mood and atmosphere win every time!
Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph?
Once I have an idea and image in my head, then I'll go out and hunt for a location that closely matches the vision that I have. If I need a Farmer's field, or a building of some sort, then I'll always seek permission. If I can't find anyone to ask, but I can gain easy access, then I'll do a recce just to make sure it's safe to shoot there.
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
FujiFilm 35 1.4
Carl Zeiss 50 macro 2.8
Lensbaby Circular Fisheye (just for fun)
Formatt Hitech filter system
ND SE Grad 0.6
Firecrest ND 3.0
Camera/lens cleaning kit
YuHan Oxford Camera Bag
What software do you use to process your images?
Alien Skin (Exposure X)
What is your most important advice to a beginner in Conceptual Photography and how do you get started?
Always have a clear vision of what it is you're wanting to achieve, image-wise. Having an idea/image in your head to begin with is always a big help as it gives you a starting point. Most of my images are composites, so I always make sure that everything is exposed the same, and I try to make sure that the natural light that I'm shooting in is constant. Shooting composites in constantly changing light can be an absolute nightmare, and it makes it harder to get right when it comes to processing the images. Always use a tripod!
Understand your camera and equipment that you're using, and if necessary get some one to one tuition. PS/Lightroom tuition is invaluable. PS is a minefield, and I'm constantly learning new things, so investing in expert tuition is worth every penny.
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
I love Conceptual/Fine Art photography, so I'll be staying within those genres for the foreseeable future. My goal is to sell limited edition prints, and to have my work exhibited. I'd also like to start doing workshops, but I'm a long way off that just yet. I've only been doing Photography since September 2014, so I still have so much more to learn before passing my limited knowledge onto someone else.
Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a lot and why?
Not so much a photo, but a painting that has stuck with me since my early teens is that by
Rene Magritte – The Son of Man
I remember seeing it in a book, and it stopped me in my tracks. It was a combination of the weirdness, simplicity, the hidden face, and the bowler hat. I was drawn in, and I wanted to see more of his paintings. I was fascinated, and it was one of the reasons why I enjoyed Art at school.
Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
I don't have a specific favourite as I quite like them all, but at the moment, the one that I like the most is this one. It's a self-portrait, and it was an absolute faff to do, but the effort was worth it..........although that will probably change in a week or two!!
Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
Yes, I want to say a huge massive THANK YOU for giving me this opportunity to share my work with everyone here. The quality of work on here is breathtaking, and there's so many talented people within this community. Everyday I'm blown away by the images that I see here, so to be invited for an interview is just.........I'm just speechless. Your continued support, and believe in my work means the world to me. I really can't thank you enough. It's mind-boggling awesome!! 1X, and everyone here is awesome!