10 June 2014
Region: South East
Rachael Talibart – Photographer of the week
In an effort to get to know our members in the Southeast region, we are featuring a series of interviews and articles and we start the project with Rachael Talibart, award-winning landscape and nature photographer from Surrey.
Rachael, please tell us a little bit about yourself How long have you been a photographer?
I have enjoyed photography since my teens, although I was mostly a holiday snapper until I was given my first digital camera in 2008. I took the Open University's short digital photography course to learn how to process my images and joined Flickr. Then the obsession set in! Since then, I have been mostly self-taught, learning from contacts made on the internet and at my camera club, Molesey Photographic Club. I have also become a judge for the Surrey Photographic Association. I consider it a privilege to be invited by camera clubs to view and discuss their members' images. We have some very accomplished shooters in Surrey and I am constantly learning from the experience.
Ten Brave the Storm
You are a wonderful landscape photographer, and have recently gained recognition through some awards. Have you tried other genres besides landscape?
Although landscape work was my first and remains my greatest love, I also enjoy garden macro photography, especially insects, and I have recently been exploring street. With my insect images, I tend to approach the subject more as a landscaper than a nature shooter. The background is as important to me as the insect itself and I usually aim for lots of negative space and minimal compositions with the insect often quite small in the frame. So my bug shots are definitely more visual art than natural history. With street, I enjoy the spontaneity. The approach is so different from the painstaking slowness of macro, with quick reactions needed for that vital grab shot before the moment has passed.
Do you have a specific technique that you use regularly? A specific time of day, or season that you prefer?
In the last six months I have particularly enjoyed exploring long exposure photography. The coast is the most rewarding location for this sort of imagery and I try to get there as often as I can. The best times of day are the two hours around sunrise and sunset. My advice for anyone wanting to get into landscape photography is to go out in the afternoon somewhere beautiful and stay until dusk. Once you've seen for yourself how the light changes and just gets better and better, you will never be satisfied with midday again! As for seasons, Autumn is easily best for landscape work, in my opinion. The light is beautiful and the sun is low enough in the sky that shooting in good light is possible for a much larger part of the day. Also, sunrise and sunset are at far more sociable times of day.
What are the challenges and rewards of landscape photography and working outdoors? Everybody knows that landscape photography requires dedication and devotion, many times getting up at unsociable hours or missing mealtimes, or events with friends and family because you have to be out there for the best light. How does that affect you?
Well, this is awkward! I am afraid that family and friends come first most of the time. Perhaps that makes me less of a photographer and it definitely affects the imagery I produce but, as with a lot of women, and more than a few men (!), those are my priorities. When I do get the chance to be out somewhere beautiful in the best light, I have to make the most of it and I think that discipline is ultimately making me a better photographer. Preparation is all; I never go somewhere without researching it thoroughly and having a clear idea of the compositions that are likely to be best in the prevailing conditions.
Who inspires you? Who are your favourite photographers?
I look at other photographers' work every day. We are lucky now with the digital age that there is so much new imagery available for us to enjoy. I have so many favourites, so I think I will just mention here some photographers who have inspired me recently, either through their work or their company. I was lucky enough to attend a short photography holiday with Ocean Capture earlier this year and I love Jonathan Critchley's landscapes for their artistry and simplicity. On the course, I also met Asmita Kapadia, a super lady who runs very interesting workshops in places like London, Amsterdam and East Sussex. Jenifer Bunnett is a local photographer who inspires me with her company and her support. We go out together at least once a week and currently have several exciting new projects on the go, including two exhibitions. It's nice to be able to share the obsession! Tony Antoniou http://www.tonyphotographer.com is a great friend and a superb digital artist. His creativity inspires me every day and I am lucky to have been able to watch him grow in a short time from beginner to accomplished, multi-award winning shooter. Finally, I have been accepted into Landscapes by Women, a community of photographers with a growing presence in the industry. I recently met up with some of them and I know the relationship is going to be rewarding and help me to push my photography to the next level.
Jade Pool, Fistral Beach
What camera equipment you normally use?
I am sometimes reluctant to answer this question, although not because it's a secret. I know it's a cliche to say this, but really it is not the camera that makes the photographer! Having said that, I do try to make sure I have the right equipment for the job. For my landscape and macro work, I use a Canon 5Diii and assorted Canon L series lenses, plus the obvious tripod, remote release and ND filters. For street and travel, I use Fuji's X-E1, a super little compact system camera that also happens to be very pretty, although that has nothing to do with it, of course...
What is your creative process? And what software do you normally use?
For me, the real joy is in taking the image out 'in the field'. I try to make sure the image is as right as it can be 'in camera' so that I can spend more time outside and less time in front of the computer. I hasten to add, however, that I am not against 'photoshopping'. I can't see the logic in having this powerful tool available and not using it. Most of my editing is fairly basic, however, tweaking exposure and cropping where the standard 3x2 format doesn't suit the image. (I use Lightroom and Photoshop and a calibrated iMac.). When making my images, I try to reflect how the place made me feel rather than how it looked. Of course, much of the time there is no difference, but I think our memories can play tricks on us when we try to remember appearances, but much less so when we try to remember emotion.
Finally, what is your favourite place to photograph?
Wherever I am at the moment! Seriously, though, I have no favourite place, and I love going somewhere new. But there is also a value in revisiting well-known locations. No two occasions are ever quite the same, affected by variables like seasons, time of day, weather and your own mood. In recent years I have been to the Channel Islands several times and find myself particularly drawn to La Corbiere. The lighthouse is beautiful, perched on unusual rocks. At low tide there's a causeway that makes an excellent lead-in and a rock pool particularly well-placed to reflect the lighthouse (thank you, Nature!). At high tide the waves crash spectacularly on the rocks and there's a high vantage point on the shore for wider compositions. Plus, unlike locations in the South of England, I often have La Corbiere to myself. For all that I enjoy the company of other photographers, there is a special pleasure in being alone in a landscape.
You can find Rachael’s photography at her website, and her Facebook page.