Editors note: I’m really excited to share this interview with the incredibly talented Timothy Poulton. He has built an impressive portfolio that places him right in the top. I hope you enjoy this in depth interview and be sure to follow Tim’s work on Facebook or 500px!
First of all, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Can you tell us a little about who you are and how you got started with photography?
I think everyone has a similar story when they start out, but I don’t think mine really follows that cookie-cutter outline. I created my life around a design business, and as part of that, photography was another facet of completing briefs for clients. I had all the gear, but all I ever photographed was pretty models and perfect products.
I was on the way back from one of these shoots at Bondi when I crested the headland on the way to my car, and witnessed the most incredible storm rolling out to sea. Gear in hand, it was a moment that started this journey. “Shocking Bondi” became my iconic image of the time and the beginning of a newfound appreciation for the landscape and the world around us.
From there, I guess you could say I just kept rolling with it. I teamed up with friends and we began shooting in larger groups.
Big parts of your portfolio consist of panoramic landscapes. What is it you find so appealing with panorama photography?
The beautiful thing about the current age of photography is that there is no limit. We are living in this ever-changing environment where, with enough dedication, you can do whatever you want, so why not?
I fell in love with panoramas because they offered something more. More involvement in the shooting process, crafting a scene with multiple frames. It took me outside of looking at the world with a standard view, I was seeing more of what was around me and incorporating that into my images.
Landscape offers the beautiful mix of all the things I love. Photography and exploring the outdoors. I love scenes that are least accessible to every photographer who wants to capture a landscape image. It’s the same scenario for those who really love other sub-genres of photography and really roll with that.
Can you tell us a little about One Of A Kind Adventures?
One Of A Kind Photography Adventures is the creation of a group of friends and photography enthusiasts. People just like me, those who crave the same kind of landscapes, the mountains, forests, glaciers and fresh air that only the wilderness can provide. We started running tours amongst ourselves, and as word grew, it turned into its own beast.
All we ever wanted to do was get to places that couldn’t be driven to by car, scenes that couldn’t be shot from a carpark and definitely not the same beach two weekends in a row. At the time we were forming, the Australian Landscape photography scene was just coming into bloom. Armed with their best digital purchases, photographers were lining up 100-thick along Sydney’s beaches just to capture some erotic water movement over yet another square metre of sand. I wanted more than that.
We evolved from a small team of 4 members to having both an Australian team and an International team of tour leaders. Each of them are masters of their own photography and several team members are brand sponsors for photographic and hiking equipment.
This thing soon became pretty big and in 2015 we launched our OneOfAKind Photography Location Guide app for Apple and Android.
These days we run several tours around Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Iceland, Italy, Patagonia and in 2017, we’re heading to Antarctica.
We love taking photographers to our favourite locations, offering a variety of tours to suit different experience levels in both fitness and photographic experience. We try to be as affordable as possible, and mix up our tours with camping and more luxurious accommodation
What, or who, inspires you to go outside and photograph?
Outside is the keyword here. I know I spend so much time working behind a computer with my business that I really do enjoy stepping away from it for short breaks in nature. Humans built the city and nature built the wilderness. There’s no better creator than nature, she teaches us so much. Her ecosystem is fragile, we must protect and preserve her masterpieces for generations to come. Some laugh at this prospect, but you can’t argue with the science that says humans are destroying the world faster than ever before.
It’s the beautiful phenomena of sunrise, sunset and everything that happens between. Weather is the one thing we cannot control and I have seen some truly remarkable displays of light and colour. That’s the motivator here. My wife and my family understand my passion and foster that within me. I’m really thankful that I have such a supportive family unit that keeps me sane when I’m not on tour.
The rest as they say, comes from my peers. The OOAK team, my peers and photographic friends who are always challenging me to go to new locations and explore new frontiers. They’re all down to earth people who don’t take everything seriously, and I like that about them. We’re constantly motivating each other to lift our game while having a bit of fun and exploring many exotic places in which to crack open a beer.
When I view your images I get a calming feeling, even though it’s often both dramatic landscape and rough weather. What do you wish to convey through your images?
I don’t believe in finding an existential meaning in what I do or why I shoot what I shoot. I am an artist, I create based on what I see and what different equipment that I have in my arsenal. At the same time, the designer in me is calibrating every detail to have an impact. If it doesn’t serve its purpose then it isn’t included in the final composition. Rain creates the rainbows, it’s about putting yourself into the right conditions in order to get the result you want.
Ultimately, I want people who view my work to find whatever they need in it. If they see drama or serenity, I hope they’re comforted by that. I don’t like the word inspiration, I’d rather motivation – to do or change or create whatever it is they need to do.
I think everyone thinks that there needs to be some deep meaning to all artwork. We’re so tied up in our busy lives that we forget to take it easy from time to time. Jealousy and hate are symptoms of taking yourself too seriously. Nature reminds you that you are small, nothing is impossible and you can do whatever the hell you want with your life, but be passionate about it!
I know you’re not a big fan of today’s trends. Why do you feel it’s important to stay true to your personal style rather than following the trends?
Trends are just that, a passing phase. Some take their time to pass and others linger for a while.
The important bit is to not make yourself a name on a certain trend, don’t throw all your shots into one process, one way of thinking and one approach to everything. It takes a dedicated professional to remain consistent despite the ebb and flow of the industry.
I will never do anything that isn’t true to myself, my ideologies or my ethics. Like any good businessman I know a trend is a grey area, a risk. You have to have your wits about you when taking those risks and you have to know when they’re not a good idea. Like the Squarial trend (square-crop aerials) that took off like a house on fire here in Australia. I get the appeal but it just didn’t excite me, so I felt no need to follow that line of lemmings.
Character is the tree that you are as a person, you invest in that and make sure the branches are strong and healthy. Friendships, relationships, opportunities and investments. Reputation is the shadow of the tree; your character. You must prune the branches that you don’t want appearing in the shadow. Trends do the same thing, they either enhance or weaken your reputation as a photographer, creator and designer.
You have a rather stunning portfolio from places such as Patagonia, what is it that attracts you to this type of landscapes?
Patagonia is a special place, but on the same level, so are all the destinations that we take tours. Every location has its own appeal, features and scenes that are so diverse. Every tour in our portfolio is created to highlight a locations’ best features, guided by the location experts that take the tours.
The particular allure of Patagonia is the ancient beech forests and the twisted, cragged mountains. We run back-to-back 12-day tours in Autumn, undoubtedly Patagonia’s most stunning season. It’s like a painter littered his crimson tones across the land, prettied up the mountains and injected a fresh, cool air into the atmosphere. There’s no better place to be for photography than Patagonia. I have seen the work of several photographers that I admire conquer this place. They’ve translated the scenery in their own eyes, and they’ve all come up with something completely different. That’s the beauty in what we do. And so what if some of it is the same? It doesn’t make a great shot any less of a great shot.
What’s next for Timothy Poulton?
Absolutely everything, I’m constantly trying to stay ahead of the industry and create tours guided by photographers that clients want to learn from. I’m always examining new ways in which to make the OOAK brand stronger and that’s what I’m always seeking.
One thing I can guarantee, I’ll never be standing still for too long.
What are your top 3 tips to someone who is just getting started with photography?
- Don’t believe everything you read/see on the internet. Photographers love to conjure elaborate stories about how they captured their images. Similarly, forums can be a hideous place to learn from, so do it the easy way, and just start shooting.
- Don’t get sucked into GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). Start with a camera that is basic, so you can understand the basics easily. Learn on something that really is just a stepping stone to a better camera down the track, when you’ve realised what you like to shoot and how you’d like to shoot it. Don’t be suckered into believing that you can’t get a great shot with a basic body and kit lens. I love the expression “Your camera takes great photos!” to which I reply “Thanks, I taught it everything it knows.” – this expression rings true whether you spent $300 or $3000 on a camera.
- Be a good person. This sounds silly but we’re all taking this photography caper way too seriously at times, and I never get enough opportunities to tell people to lighten up. Have a laugh, be true to yourself, follow your heart and everything else will come to you. The power of positive thinking changes your attitude to creativity, to the world and to how you capture that. Don’t attack others, even if they’re wrong on the internet. Let it go. If we’re going to save this beautiful planet, we all need to start respecting it a lot more, and that starts with our fellow humans.