IT’S RARE THAT YOU FIND YOUR CALLING IN LIFE STRAIGHT AWAY, DERBY PHOTOGRAPHER RICHARD GARDNER EXPLAINS HOW HIS PASSION FOR TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY SOON DEVELOPED INTO A NEW BUSINESS

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Tell us about yourself?

I grew up in Oxford and came to Derby to study after completing an engineering apprenticeship. 17 years, 2 children and 1 dog later and I’m still here. Derby certainly grows on you, it’s great for beautiful countryside and its unique location makes it easy to access opportunities in the surrounding cities.

Have you always been into photography?

I have always enjoyed taking photos but had never really considered it as a profession until I took a one-year trip around the world, where I became hooked on travel photography. After that, I decided to invest in some equipment and dedicate time learning the fundamentals. Shortly after that I was shooting my first solo wedding and taking on small commercial projects.

So what type of photography do you specialise in?

Over the years I have shot a lot of weddings, portraiture and families. But, more recently, I have made the conscious decision to focus on commercial photography. I now have a large fully equipped studio located in Derby’s award-winning Cathedral Quarter, with the facility to shoot anything from products to portraiture and everything in between.

So quite a varied amount of work then?

Yes, but you find that helps keep things interesting and pushes you forward. There’s always a crossover, as at the end of the day it all comes down to how you use the light; the basic principles apply whatever the subject is.

What’s the best part about your work?

There’s a lot to love about this job: the variety, the satisfaction of creating something, collaborating with different people and, at times, the travel opportunities. Seeing your work in print either on a billboard or in a magazine is always a great feeling too.

I understand you teach photography too?

Yes, I have taught at least 180 people over the years, both students and adults. If anything, it has helped me develop. Constantly giving feedback to others helps you to also reflect on your own work and keeps you on your toes. Anyone who has had to teach others their own discipline will be able to relate to this. It’s rewarding when you see the improvement in your student’s photography over time, and even better when you see them go on to study the subject further.

Do you see much of a future for professional photographers, what with the constant developments in phone and entry-level camera technology?

We all know that anyone with a smartphone can take a half-decent photograph and developments such as the Portrait mode on the latest iPhone can sometimes fool people into thinking that a professional grade camera has been used. However, clients are not hiring a photographer for their camera, they are buying into your style, ideas, experience and creativity. These are all qualities that develop over time. If anything, there is even more need for professional photographers today, as pretty much every new business has a website and social channel, which always drives the need for fresh, quality content.

Any tips for people looking to improve their photography?

One of the first things I tell my students is to use your legs. Get close, move back, crouch down, stand tall. But one of my favourite quotes comes from National Geographic photographer, Jim Richardson, “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.” I think that’s pretty solid advice.

CONTACT RICHARD GARDNER PHOTOGRAPHY

Richard Gardner Photography,
Upper Floor 1-5 Irongate,
Derby,
DE1 5FJ

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