Q. What were your first impressions of your Olympus Pen E-PL10?
A. Straight out of the box I was struck by how lightweight it was. It’s easily the most portable of all my cameras, and yet it packs in all the functionality that I need and use on a daily basis. I have a chronic health condition, and carrying a heavy camera bag often isn’t possible for me, so the portability of the PEN was an immediate win for me!
Q. How often do you use it?
A. She’s with me daily! I’m a big believer in capturing the beauty of the everyday, and I’ve missed too many great shots in life by not having my camera to hand (the baby deer in the bluebells! The rainbow sandstorm at the beach!). I always used to use my phone, but when it came to publishing my book I realised how many photos were too small to print because they weren’t true photo quality and resolution. The PEN is the perfect bridge of this gap for me – just as quick and easy, but giving the professional quality and size of a true camera image.
Q. Which lens is your favourite and why?
A. The 45mm 1.8. It gives beautiful, creamy bokeh, beautiful skin tones and allows me to get up close and personal with my subject. For anyone who loves the ‘portrait’ mode on their smartphone camera – this is the real deal (instead of a digital attempt at recreating it!). If I’m only taking one lens out with me, this is hands down my first choice, whether I’m shooting holiday snaps, detailed Instagram creations or unpredictable indoor/outdoor events.
Q. Have you tried the remote function yet?
A. Remote is one of those features that I don’t use frequently, but when I do need it, I’m really, really glad it exists! With the PEN you can use live view to see what your camera sees on your phone, which is ideal for when you want to be in the shot and don’t have a willing friend or partner to be your photographer! It’s especially valuable for when you need to put your camera somewhere inaccessible, like mounted to the ceiling for a top-down shot. Using my phone I can get the perfect composition, check my pose and angles are right, and then take the shots, all directly from my phone.
Q. We find your instagram grid incredibly inspiring and thought-provoking. Who/What inspires your images?
A. Thank you! Most of my image ideas just pop into my head in response to what I see around me. I’m forever inspired by nature and the changing of seasons, and the way it completely changes how we feel and engage with our homes and surroundings. In my old life working in speech therapy for the NHS, I dealt a lot with young people whose disabilities mean they were reliant on pictures and symbols for communication. It sounds unrelated, but I think a lot of that experience comes through in my photography. I’m always thinking, ‘what’s the clearest way I can convey this message in a single picture? What elements do you need to see for it to make up the whole story in a frame?’
Q. Where might we find you taking some time out with your camera?
A. Out in the glorious Yorkshire hills around my village home. It’s so beautiful, and so changeable, that it’s taught me to always budget an extra 10 minutes to every journey because I know I’ll have to pull over to snap the frosty dew on the grass at the side of a meadow, or the incredible rainbow streaming across the sky. I try to give myself an hour or two a week alone with my camera just to shoot for the joy of it – it’s my version of the ‘artist’s date’ that Julia Cameron writes about in her book, The Artists’ Way. There’s something magical in being intentional in setting out in search of beauty. People like to malign the Instagram generation for always ‘lens gazing’, but I find viewing the world through my camera makes me see so much more detail and wonder in places I’d otherwise overlook.
Q. Describe how taking photos makes you feel.
A. Photography for me is all about a chance to hit pause and capture a perfect moment.
Q. Tell us a secret about photography.
A. Composition does 90% of the work! By which I mean – people will overlook or forgive small mistakes with exposure, focus, blur etc, if the composition and subject is enchanting enough. When the story is truly compelling, we don’t mind the spelling mistakes. Especially in this digital, short-attention span age, nailing your composition is the key to creating images that stop people from scrolling and hold their gaze.
Q. Which lens have you got your eye on to try next?
A. The 17mm! I’m writing to Santa as we speak…