Michelle Williams: Inspirations.

Gateway to the Moors II North York Moors by Joe Cornish

Gateway to the Moors II North York Moors by Joe Cornish

 

I have many photography hero’s but to name only a few, I love the work of Joe Cornish, known for his large format and wide angles, the way he works with light is intrinsic, and I think he has made a real difference to the way Landscape Photography is seen and perceived in this generation.

I also love the work of Elliott Erwitt, the humour in his work is like no other, but it still retains a sense of honesty and integrity and Dorethea Lange is another favourite.

 

Don McCullin is amongst the ultimate masters in the field of Documentary photography. I find inspiration from his famous quote:

“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”

CYPRUS by Dom McCullin

CYPRUS by Dom McCullin

When I first read this quote, I felt it expressed perfectly what photography is about – feeling, engaging, emotive, a ‘sense of place’ and his words continue to inspire me, and without a doubt many other photographers too.

SOLDIERS by Dom McCullin

SOLDIERS by Dom McCullin

My number one inspiration however is the work of Steve McCurry, something just lights up in me when I look at his work, if I could produce just one piece of work as compelling as his images I would be a happy lady!  His use of colour, composition, and connection between photographer and subject is simply awesome.

I am currently in the process of updating my gear, and will be working towards a distinction with the RPS this year.  I normally shoot in a classic/purist style but recently have been working in a more impressionistic way, using textures and layers, this style can be seen in my woodland images. I am also finding new avenues to showcase, sell and promote my work and currently in talks with a local gallery regarding a possible exhibition.

Going forward I endeavour to continue learning and progressing, aquiring skills and experience in all genre’s of photography, particularly in Landscape and Documentary, those genres being my main passion.  My long term goal, health permitting, is to take some extended period of time again to travel, and I have plenty of ideas of where I would like to go, what I would like to photograph/document and how I would like the work to look, and the impact that I hope it will have.  But I’ll leave that a secret at the moment….you cant give everything away, so watch this space!

Happy snapping fellow photographers, and for all those that simply enjoy photography, art, or have a love of the landscape, I hope you always continue to have this love. To support our planet in even a small way can make a huge difference both today and for future generations to enjoy.

Take a look at Michelle’s images and buy direct through the Shed Gallery.

Getting to Know Michelle Williams

It is such a privilege to be picked for both Image and Artist of the week. There are some fantastic photographers at the Shed Gallery, who inspire me on a regular basis. So thanks Ben and Chelsea for the opportunity to raise my profile. And for the work that you do for all the photographers and artists you work with.

Michelle Williams

Camel Caravan by Michelle Williams Photography

Camel Caravan by Michelle Williams Photography

Camel Caravan was the Winner of the Big Picture Telegraph Competition and also in their line up of the top 15 images of that year.  Also a National Geo Graphic Editors Pick.

I have always loved creative pursuits, from an early age I was forever doodling and playing around with scrap books.  I distinctly remember being captivated by landscapes, asking Dad to pull over to look at a view as a small child, and collecting flora and fauna with my Grand father, who’s beautiful poetry we added to our scrapbooks from weekends exploring the landscape together, and being enthralled by the natural world.

Peace II by Michelle Williams Photography

Peace II by Michelle Williams Photography

Peace II was shortlisted for the Travel photography Competition and finalist in ‘straight down the middle’.

As I got a little older I developed a desire for travel.  Far-flung lands and spice Islands, tribal cultures and beautiful vistas stirred my imagination, and I have been lucky enough to be able to fulfill my dreams of travel, living and traveling throughout the UK and worldwide. It is from these experiences that my creative expression grew.  Photography at first was (like for most people) a means of documenting these memories, but from as far back as I can remember I had a desire to pick up a camera and really do justice to the places I was seeing and the wonderful landscapes around us.  People started to comment that I had ‘a good eye’ that they really enjoyed looking at my images, and from there the confidence in my ability became stronger and the love and passion for photography became a way of life.  Like a lot of photographers I doubt myself, and I have a lot to learn still, but to be honest that excites me and propels me to carry on moving forward on this wonderful journey.  Landscape and Travel photography was my first passion but Documentary photography is something I have become more and more interested in over the last few years too, there is something so compelling about ‘freezing’ a moment in time, the feeling is almost paradoxical, poetic and thought provoking, and I find it extremely rewarding to be able to story tell with a single and/or a series of images.

Waves in Motion by Michelle Williams Photography

Waves in Motion by Michelle Williams Photography

Waves in motion was shortlisted in the Travel photography Competition.

Unfortunately I have suffered some difficult times and ill health over the last 5 years, which has left me with fatigue related issues, this can obviously create hurdles in terms of traveling and in getting out and about with my camera as much as I would like but creative bursts and opportunities are still there, and it is a major priority and driving factor for me in my recovery.

Under the Pier by Michelle Williams Photography

Under the Pier by Michelle Williams Photography

Under the pier was shortlisted in the Travel photography Competition.

On a more positive note, I am feeling proud with my accomplishments to date, along with winning some National Travel Photography competitions, some local landscape competitions and online documentary competitions, I have also had work exhibited and sold both in the UK and overseas.  I have undertaken large project work for local tourism, again both in the UK and overseas, and a number of smaller jobs in various genres.

Peaceful Contemplation by Michelle Williams Photography

Peaceful Contemplation by Michelle Williams Photography

Peaceful Contemplation was voted in the top 10 in an online competition.

In terms of preference for colour or Black&White imagery it really depends on many variables.  I feel I have a slight lean towards B&W particularly in documentary style work, but ultimately I think it depends on the subject, the light and what message you are trying to convey within the image.

Urban life by Michelle Williams Photography

Urban life by Michelle Williams Photography

Urban Life was voted in the top 10 in an online competition.

Gossip II by Michelle Williams Photography

Gossip II by Michelle Williams Photography

Gossip II was voted in the top 10 in an online competition.

Artist of the Week, Lorraine Poole.

What first drew you to photography?

My first memory I have of photography was when I was 8 or 9 and my Dad let me take some pictures on his black and white polaroid camera.  I was amazed at the magic of being able to capture images that I could hold in my hands.  It wasn’t long before I had my own camera – a Kodak Brownie 127. The thrill of collecting my prints was wondrous, the torture of waiting for my negatives to get printed was excruciating and the cost well that was very limiting to say the least.  So when I grew up I ended up working for over 20 years in the voluntary sector, finally realising my goal as CEO.  However, I was taken suddenly ill over 3 years ago and rediscovered my creative self and love of photography which also became my therapy to recovery.

What is your favourite photographic memory, and why?

I won my first photography competition at the age of 11. I took a photo of a beautiful pink and red sunset while hanging out of my bedroom window. But my favourite? Now that is difficult but I’d say taking photographs of music legend Robert Plant playing live was fun.  Shooting Big Big Train, Francis Dunnery, Deborah Rose and friends performing at a charity concert last year and having my images chosen to use on social media – so exciting. Having my images exhibited, and purchased even and of course being chosen by Canon to feature in their online showcase on the theme of Portraits.

Who is your favourite photographer, and why?

Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Hurrell, Richard Avedon and Dorothea Lange are just some of the photographers who have inspired my love of black and white photography (which I prefer mostly these days). Though worlds apart their stylish images reflect the times they lived in staying true to their own style and vision. Another of my favourite photographers is Andy Rouse. I have had the pleasure of meeting Andy, he is so down to earth; I respect him for his energy, compassion for animals and shooting (in the best way) the most amazing wildlife photographs. He now shoots Canon and facilitates awesome photo safaris (though sadly far too expensive for me). I also don’t take myself too seriously and always have fun with my photography.

What would be your ideal camera, and where would you take it?

I currently adore the camera I am using right now, the Canon EOS 6D. It’s relatively light compared to many other full frame cameras and easier for me to use.  Due to pain and weakness in my wrists and arms due to a chronic illness my camera has to be comfortable for me and not too bulky or weighty. The quality it gives me is great and is surprisingly portable and versatile.

Tell us what you enjoy most about your own work, and what has inspired you recently.

I love the endless creative possibilities. Photography to me is very much an art form that allows me to create quirky, abstract, thought provoking, beautiful (or not), personal views of the world as I see it. The bonus being that somebody else may also appreciate or even like my images too.

My nosey nature fuels my love of people watching and I especially enjoy street photography. It is so unpredictable and challenging but amazing to capture a candid view of a moment in time of real life as it happens. I recently visited my son in Nottingham and walking through the city centre I noticed a striking ad poster that looked like the model was reaching for the telephone while a young man walks by looking at his mobile phone.

Hanging on the Telephone by Lorraine Poole

Hanging on the Telephone by Lorraine Poole

Do you have bursts of creativity – and when/where are you most creative?

Yes, very much so but it can also depend on my health at the time.  Bursts of creativity can come from anywhere.  I often see things out and about that spark my curiosity and entice me to find out more, and capture the object/person/moment in time. I rarely go out with a plan of knowing what I am looking for and what I want to shoot.  Though I do have images in my head that I would like to create, I end up going out with my camera and coming across a subject/opportunity as a matter of chance.  An example of this would be when I traveled down to Lyme Regis to see the Instant Exhibition and meet Chelsea for the first time.  While I was there it was a beautiful sunny day and so I took a walk around the town (with my parents).  Close to the Mill I saw a small building that looked dark and mysterious inside.  Being inquisitive I walked through the open door and came across a wonderful pottery workshop and met a lovely potter there who allowed me to take photographs of him putting the finishing touches to a number of mugs he had just made. I never use flash but used what light there was and shot a series of ‘portraits’.  I later processed these in black and white which worked well to contrast the differing textures of the artisan potter, the fascinating workspace and challenging light.

Potter in Lyme Regis, Dorset by Lorraine Poole

Potter in Lyme Regis, Dorset by Lorraine Poole

How do you spend a creative day?

If I am awake there is a strong possibility, I am finding something to photograph! I am also a big fan of the camera on my iPhone 6 plus so there’s no stopping me. I am a nightmare to go a walk with because I am always seeing things I have to stop and snap. Because I can have problems with my mobility I have become good at finding wonderful flora and fauna to shoot in my tiny garden.  Have also been having fun experimenting with macro and trying to capture the stunning beauty of the smallest things.  Nature is another love of mine and I am extremely lucky to live in the country at the edge of the New Forest. As an amateur photographer I am also continuously editing and looking at my photographs with a view to building up a portfolio and one day hosting my own exhibition. Apart from daydreaming my day also consists of talking to my husband and dogs and eating chocolate.

What are the most important elements of a successful photo?

What is a successful photo? Photography as is art is extremely subjective.  Winners of photo contests – I rest my case. To me the lighting is important, the image should encourage a response or emotion. Technical excellence to me is not everything as I will often choose to shoot images out of focus, soft, grainy and dark to add to the overall feel and mood. It is important to me to stay true to who I am as an artist. A successful photo to me is one that I am really happy with and in turn contributes to my confidence and learning.

Tell us about your favourite photograph, either your own or someone else’s.

I couldn’t possibly choose one photo but Richard Kalvar’s high contrast black and white street shots are some of my favourites.

One of my own favourites is a portrait of Robert Plant on stage.  I really wanted to capture a classic shot of his powerful performance, an image of energy and realness. Processing in black and white gives it that classic rock feel.

Robert Plant on Stage by Lorraine Poole

Robert Plant on Stage by Lorraine Poole

Arne is one of my favourite places in Dorset by Jo Stephen

Arne is one of my favourite places in Dorset, at any time of year the woods, heath and saltmarshes are alive with wildlife and beautiful foliage. I love the colours of autumn best, foraging for chestnuts and searching for fungi.

Silver Birch Wood Arne by Jo Stephen

My passion is photographing trees and the silver birch woods at Arne are a favourite, a few steps off the path and you are lost in a choir of elegant, silvery barked trees, thick orange bracken and bright green mosses. Every vista holds a picture, and the woods are alive with deer, birds, squirrels, water voles, dragonflies and spiders, it is so easy to get completely lost in the moment and the conversations of nature.

Silver Birch by Jo Stephen

Silver Birch by Jo Stephen

When I walk in the woods I try to capture the folklore and the magic of a world before industry. Arne is so quiet; you can escape completely at times and feel a connection it is hard to feel elsewhere. I try to leave out any trace of man in my photography; I think I am looking for a world we haven’t touched, and although Arne is managed by the RSPB and is frequently visited it is still somewhere to be immersed in nature. I usually have a 70-300 lens and take most landscape shots with that, this allows me to see closer into a view without disturbing and be able to turn and take a picture of the deer that was just startled in an instant.

Silver birch by Jo Stephen

Silver birch by Jo Stephen

 

Mike Hall with his favourites from the Shed Gallery

Mike Hall – Defiance

Defiance by Mike Hall

Defiance by Mike Hall

Artist of the week Mike Hall with a selection of his favorite images from the Shed Gallery:

John Fanning – 62 Seconds at Weston

62 Seconds at Weston by John Fanning

62 Seconds at Weston by John Fanning

I am a fan of long exposure shots, as they are not easy to do, and the slightest movement can spoil them, so you have to be careful. The perspective, and lovely use of gradient filter here gives a real depth to it.
3 Trees – Jo Stephen

3 trees by Jo Stephen

3 trees by Jo Stephen

I really loved this. The trees are well placed, and work really well in the shot, with some reflection, but the shot is dream like, with beautiful depth of colour.

Calm – Sian Tyrell

Calm by Sian Tyrrell

Calm by Sian Tyrrell

This shot spoke to me due to its simplicity. It’s got great execution, the horizon is dead level, but the colour across the shot is really nice. I would like to take this shot myself.

Cnuic na Braclach – Chris White

Cnuic na Braclach by Chris White

Cnuic na Braclach by Chris White

As landscape shots go, this one really spoke to me. The foregrounding of the rocks works really well. It adds lovely depth of field, and the clouds and light are magnificent in such rugged territory.

Frozen Fence on Y Garn 2 – Robin Shaw 

Frozen Fence on Y Garn 2 by Robin Shaw

Frozen Fence on Y Garn 2 by Robin Shaw

A lovely winter shot, with great use of the light hitting the frozen fence. The sunlight is lovely, and the perspective of the image works really well. Beautiful.