I recently had a conversation with a photographer friend who remarked that he had noticed how I was including more woodland images in my blog posts.
He was interested in what had motivated me to take an interest in woodland photography.
I have re-formed our conversation as a Q&A session as it gives some background to an area of photography for which I have discovered a real passion.
Q. I notice that you are including a lot of woodland photographs in your blog posts recently. Is this a new interest or something you have always been interested in?
A. A bit of both really. I love trees and have taken many photographs of trees during different seasons. Since childhood I have had a love for woodlands, but I didn’t think I could make good woodland images so it wasn’t something I considered previously.
Q. What happened to change your mind?
A. A few things. Firstly, the lockdowns happened and travel outside my immediate area suddenly became something I could no longer do, so I had to stay close to home. I happen to have a few woodland areas near my home, and I love to go there at different times of day to see the changing woodland environment, so it made sense to try and do some photography there.
Initially I was uncertain if I could make any images in such ‘busy’ environments, so I decided to do some research on the work of woodland photographers and get some tips for my own photography.
Q. Which photographers have you been inspired by?
A. There are several landscape photographers who include woodland photography in their portfolio, and others whose work is almost exclusively in woodland photography. I am drawn to those who have a real love for woodland, who display their passion through their images. These photographers show a great respect and reverence for the woodland environment in which they work, and as such are inspirational to others. I am thinking of names such as Nigel Danson, Mads Peter Iversen and Simon Baxter, among others.
More recently I have discovered the work of Paul Thomson, a photographer who simplifies the process of woodland photography, making his vlogs helpful to those who are new to this form of photography.
Q. What have you learned from the work of these photographers?
A. What I have been interested in is how to compose in the ‘chaotic’ environment that some woodlands can be. To compose properly you have to try to separate the subject in some way from the background. Each of these photographers explains their process of finding and composing a good image, and I try to follow their guidance. I also spend time looking for interesting subjects and learning what to include in an image and what to leave out.
Trying to separate the subject from the background can be a challenge in woodland photography.
Q. For a photographer, what is the most important quality needed to make a success of woodland photography?
A. I think that, regardless of what type of photography you choose to do, having a passion for that form of photography is the most important ingredient for success. If you have a real passion for the environments in which you make your images, you will be able to express yourself more fully through these images. When you invest part of yourself – your energy and passion – you give an essential quality to your images that may be lacking if you concentrate only on technical excellence. I think this is particularly true for amateurs as it’s important to feel a connection to your images, even if they are less than perfect.
I love this image, and I don't quite know why.
Q. Have you always had a connection to the environment?
A. I think so. I grew up in a small village in the countryside, so the rural landscape was part of my life as a child. We lived close to a woodland area, which was my favourite place to play as a child. We built dens, climbed trees, found secret hiding places, and generally enjoyed a wonderful freedom. Those memories have stayed with me into adulthood, and I still love rambling through a woodland, although today what I most enjoy is the peace and quiet and being close to the abundance of nature which a woodland offers.
And of course, making images.
Q. Do you have any favourite woodland images?
A. I think these are some of my favourites from the past year. I like when my images tell a story. In some of these scenes the trees almost take on a character of their own.
Q. What are your plans for your photography for the coming year?
A. I hope to improve at woodland photography, and indeed at landscape photography in general. I know I need to work on composition and on getting the light right, so those are my first priorities.
I also intend to write some blog posts charting my progress.
My other plan is to take on some photography challenges throughout the year so that I don’t allow myself to get into a rut. There are many challenges outlined online to choose from.
I also like the idea of doing a short photography project where I focus on one aspect of photography. Something like shooting the woodland in black and white comes to mind.
During the latter part of last year, I was introduced to Intentional Camera Movement (ICM), which I would like to pursue further. It’s something that can ideally be practised in a woodland setting, and it doesn’t need any particular weather conditions. I think it has the potential to help me improve at my photography, since it involves a lot of experimentation with camera settings, as well as being a new creative outlet. I am interested in seeing where it leads.
Q. Can I ask you a question about your blog - is it successful?
A. In terms of readership, and reader engagement, no. In terms of personal development, motivation and self-fulfilment, it is very successful. It gives me an outlet for my ideas and a vehicle in which to organise my thoughts and evaluate my progress, not just in photography but in many areas of personal development.
To give you an example, in my recent exploration of ICM I have watched videos explaining this technique and tried out some of the techniques in the field. I am beginning to learn about the challenges and issues to be solved. By writing about my experiences I can clarify my thoughts and get a clearer idea of what I might need to do next. This has been the case with every step of my photography journey.
Q. Do you think you will continue blogging?
A. I think I benefit from writing, I'm enjoying it, and I do have a small amount of readers who seem to come back to the blog from time to time, so I have no plans to stop blogging right now.
I recently wrote a post to celebrate three years of blogging, which I link to here.
Interview conducted on January 5th, 2022.