I’m really excited to share this month’s inspirational photographer: Thomas Heaton. Many of you might already know of him through his engaging YouTube videos and in this interview, we get to know more about his journey. Thomas is a talented photographer with a great eye for compositions, which I believe shows in the images shared through this interview.
First of all, can you begin by telling us who you are and how you got started with photography?
I started my photography when I was 16, at college. I studied media production and part of this course involved photography. I will never forget my first time in the darkroom, seeing the images come to life in front of my eyes. I was hooked!
You’ve grown a large audience on YouTube where you share your knowledge of photography and take the viewer with you on your travels. What made you begin to upload these videos?
I started youtube as a way of inspiring others to explore more and as a platform for sharing my images with a wider audience in the hope of people connecting with the images on a deeper level having seen how the photograph was captured. I have to admit, I did not expect it to be as popular as it is.
How important is YouTube and social media for your photography? Where do you think you’d be without it?
It is incredibly important. I owe my career to social media. It is very difficult to get your work seen through traditional channels such as magazines because ultimately it is someone else’s decision. With social media and Youtube, you can simply do your own thing. If people like it, they will watch more. It really is a revolution for the creative industry.
Has your approach to YouTube and creating videos changed as your audience grows?
Yes, totally. In the beginning, I wasn’t concerned too much with production quality and I only released a video if I had a successful image to go with it. Now, it is all about the story and the journey. People connect so much more with my content when I show the bad days as well as the good and having better equipment to help tell the story really helps too.
Do you ever feel that creating a video distracts you from getting the shot? How do you balance your priorities when in the field?
I do feel this sometimes. It can be difficult to manage video and photography, but in the end, the photograph always comes first. Usually, I do enough planning to allow for additional filming time and it goes smoothly, but when things don’t go to plan I often leave the video camera and make sure I get the image. I always know that I can fix the video in the edit suite after, using some creative B-Roll and Voice Over, it’s rarely a problem.
By viewing your images it’s obvious that you work a lot with your composition. Can you talk us through your process of creating an image? Is there anything specific you look for?
Composition is incredibly important to me. First I find a subject, then I look/hope for light and search for a composition. I look for order, balance, contrast, colour, lead-in lines, S-curves, foreground interest… the list goes on. The more of these elements I can build into my image, the better. I will now contradict everything by saying that sometimes, I actually look for space and emptiness in order to produce peaceful, quiet images. Photography is a funny￼ game 🙂
What are your top 3 tips for someone who’s just getting started with photography?
- Get up early & stay out late. This is when the light is usually at its most mesmerising and time can often seem to stand still.
- Don’t try too hard. Sometimes things look beautiful but don’t work in an image, if you’re trying really hard to make things work, it probably won’t. The best images are simple and obvious.
- Slow down, think more and shoot less. It’s all too easy to run around getting excited shooting everything and moving on, but you will soon learn that this doesn’t always produce the best results. It pays to slow down and really think about your image, work on it and wait until you know the light is at it’s best.
Who inspires you?
Lot’s of people inspire me for many different reasons. Sir Ranulf Fiennes is a big inspiration to me. Not only for his adventures and his resilience when out in the wilderness, but for how he simply will not stop. He was married to his childhood sweetheart for 34 years before she passed away, but rather than choosing to give up and retire, which is what I would have done, he continued to silence his critics, explore and inspire many people.
Do you have any new adventures planned in 2017?
My adventures come at short notice, so far this year I will be in Iceland, Finland and Acadia National Park as part of the Out of Acadia Photography conference. Who knows what other opportunities will come my way.
What can we expect from Thomas Heaton in the future?
You can expect more video content, more travel, more photography and a camper van, which should make things a lot more interesting!!