In Discussion with Andy Prior
How did you become interested in landscape photography?
I started taking an interest in photography in 2010. In the early days, I would photograph anything and everything, learning as much about the camera as possible and how to use it in different situations. A family holiday to southern Spain is where my love for landscape photography developed as I tried to capture the stunning scenery of the Andalusian mountains. Despite the amazing vistas, I was initially disappointed with my efforts and wanted to learn why and how I could improve. From books and magazines, I learnt quickly about the need for filters, the golden hours and composition and have honed my skills over the years.
How much research and planning is involved in your photography?
I tend to revisit the same local locations. By exploring the landscape I know well it is helpful when those ‘magical conditions’ materialise. Instead of running around blind trying to find a composition, I’ll know exactly where to go to get the best from a location or weather condition. This is particularly helpful if you know where the sun rises and sets at different times of the year too. In terms of planning further afield, I use Google Earth, plotting pins over the map at locations of interest. If ever I am in that area I have a ready-made list of spots to explore.
What equipment do you typically use when taking pictures?
I have a Canon 550D which has been my main camera since my passion for photography started. I have always toyed with the idea of upgrading to a full-frame or even mirrorless camera but have always invested my money in good Canon L lenses, a good tripod and LEE filters instead. In my opinion, every camera has the same exposure triangle so investing a huge amount of money in a new camera wouldn’t necessarily improve my photography. I am unconvinced I would gain value from a lot of the added features the new models have. That being said, if Canon would like to send me a new camera to convince me otherwise I would be happy to test one!
Do you prefer standard or long exposure photography?
I probably shoot more standard shots than long exposure but that isn’t really through any sort of preference. If there was a lot of movement in a scene such as water flowing or cloud movement which I’d like to draw attention to I wouldn’t shy away from using a long exposure.
What is your approach to editing photos?
I would say my editing approach is fairly traditional. I may use Lightroom to draw attention to a particular element but my intention is to convey a scene very close to how I witnessed it and for the photograph to look as natural as possible.
What are your favourite places to photograph?
Living about 70 miles from the sea ironically I love photographing the coastline. That being said I generally have a huge draw towards photographing landscapes that include an element of water. Thankfully there are plenty of rivers locally to where I live in The Cotswolds.
What advice would you give to budding photographers?
It may seem obvious but learning how to use your camera effectively will pay off when the optimum conditions present themselves. Light can be fleeting so knowing exactly how to edit the camera settings quickly ensures you are more likely to catch that moment of magic. After that would be patience and perseverance, not every morning will have the most ideal weather conditions so don’t expect amazing photos every time you go out.
What in particular do you try to achieve artistically through your pictures?
I would say I don’t go out to achieve anything specifically. I like experimenting and developing so my images can be quite varied in their style from one to the next. I think as soon as you pigeonhole yourself into shooting to a specific artistic style it can stifle your creativity and will probably limit you sooner or later.
What in particular do you look for when arriving at a location you wish to photograph?
I usually arrive at a location a minimum of an hour before the golden hour and try to analyse what it is about the scene which interests me and find a composition that draws attention to those elements. In addition, I try to pre-empt what will happen within a scene that could enhance it and compose based on this. For example, when photographing a beautiful misty river recently I anticipated that a swan might swim into the scene and enhance the composition and photograph as a whole. Thankfully my hunch paid off.
What are your future goals as a photographer?
I always toy with an idea of a career change and would love to dedicate more time to shooting full time. I really enjoy coaching and teaching people so photography workshops could be an option.
What are the greatest challenges you face as a photographer?
As I work full time, the biggest challenge is finding the time to get out shooting as much as I would like to. It’s typical that in the week the weather will be fantastic, but come the weekend when I can get out it’ll be awful.
My work focuses on capturing a moment in time, A huge fan of misty conditions, patiently waiting for just the perfect light. I predominately photograph my local landscape of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire Cotswolds regions.