Be Inspired

Interview with professional landscape photographer Paul Sanders

We recently held a small internal training course for the Fujifilm UK team and we asked professional photographer Paul Sanders to join us and help teach us more about landscape photography. After spending some time with Paul and listening to him talking about his work and his thought process in regards to photography, it became apparent that Paul had a very interesting story that I’d love to share.

Below is Paul’s story from being a trainee photographer in 1991, up to his current passion, hobby and luckily for him, profession – Fine Art Landscape Photography. If you have any thoughts or questions for Paul, please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this blog.

Fine Art Landscape Photographer Paul Sanders

Paul Sanders avatar“I’ve been involved in news photography since 1991 when I started as a trainee photographer at The Daventry Express in Northamptonshire. I’m incredibly driven and knew straightaway that I wouldn’t settle for life on a weekly newspaper, I wanted the big time, the only place I could see myself working was for a national newspaper and one in particular; The Times. I think essentially it was because The Times is in my opinion the best newspaper in the world for it’s reporting and accuracy. I got my head down, worked hard sacrificed everything, relationships, family, friends and social life all in the single minded pursuit of my dream job.

X-T1 with XF10-24 @10 - F8 - 120 Seconds - ISO200

X-T1 with XF10-24 @10 – F8 – 120 Seconds – ISO200

“By 1998 I was working for the international wire agency Reuters in London and in 2002 I got the call from The Times to join their team. When The Times changed from broadsheet to the more modern compact format I was given the job of revitalising the way pictures were used in the new format. Finally on 1 April 2004 I was made Picture Editor, I had total responsibility of the entire visual content and a team of the finest researchers and photographers working with me. To say I was in my element was an understatement. However success at that level comes with a high price. Daily I would view between 17 and 20 thousand images, direct photographers, manage budgets, layout pages and train young hopefuls. By 2010 I had reached breaking point, I suffered with chronic insomnia and depression, my marriage started to break down and the wheels came off my train. I hid this all from the world until December 2011 when I announced that I was leaving the job I had pursued for years.

XT-1 with XF10-24 @ 14mm - F14 - 180 Seconds - ISO200

XT-1 with XF10-24 @ 14mm – F14 – 180 Seconds – ISO200

“When you have a breakdown your body and mind are telling you to change a few things, I needed to slow down, take stock and recover. My recovery began with shooting large format landscapes. I’d wander the country 5×4 camera and tripod over my shoulder trying to be Ansel Adams or Joe Cornish and failing miserably. The process of shooting film again slowed me down, enabling me to organise my mind a little and start to get in touch with the joy of photography. In many respects my early foray into landscape work was such a failure because I wasn’t being true to myself – I wasn’t connecting with my subject at all.

X-Pro1 with XF14mm - F16 - 140 Seconds - ISO200

X-Pro1 with XF14mm – F16 – 140 Seconds – ISO200

“During 2013 I had an epiphany in seeing, I realised that actually it was ok to shoot the images I wanted, not the classic views, but using my emotional and spiritual connections with the landscape to create images that resonated with my soul. I had switched from 5×4 to DSLR during 2012, to save weight and money. Still I was finding it hard to work, I would always think can I be bothered, many times I would lug my equipment to a location and not bother getting it out of the bag; it was too much hassle. I wasn’t enjoying my work at all.

“However what I had realised was that to truly see what I wanted, the sitting, watching and listening had really opened my eyes and my heart to the images I wanted to create. What I needed was a camera that didn’t get in that way of my connection or creativity.

X-Pro1 with XF14mm - F22 - 1/2 sec - ISO 200

X-Pro1 with XF14mm – F22 – 1/2 sec – ISO 200

“In early 2014 I handled the Fuji X-T1 for the first time and instantly fell in love, I actually had goose bumps on my skin, such was my connection with this camera. It was a bit like the moment Harry Potter picked up his wand for the first time!

“As soon as they came to market I bought two, a variety of lenses, and swapped out much of my DSLR equipment totally committed to these tiny miracle workers.

XT-1 with XF55-200 @ 100mm - F4.5 - 1 second - ISO320

XT-1 with XF55-200 @ 100mm – F4.5 – 1 second – ISO320

“My energy and creativity were revitalised, the camera wasn’t in the way, it was literally a plug in to my imagination allowing me to record what I wanted in the way I wanted without the weight or cumbersome nature of my previous equipment. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and shot the images I had been feeling. I stopped trying to be accepted by the majority and concentrated on being true to myself. If no one likes my work really it doesn’t matter to me at all. If people do and I sell a few pictures then that’s a bonus.

X-T1 with XF10-24 @10mm - F16 - 800 Seconds - ISO200

X-T1 with XF10-24 @10mm – F16 – 800 Seconds – ISO200

“I still sit for hours watching and feeling the landscape in front of me, but now I feel that I am truly connected with my work through the little Fuji. The X-T1 isn’t a barrier like my Canon, it’s a conduit. They are virtually invisible to me, instinctively my hands fall in all the right places, there’s a wonderful simplicity to them which helps me as I’m quite simple in many ways too. The less complex the process of making pictures the less I have to be concerned with. I have no desire to pixel peep or get bogged down in the technical arguments about shadow detail or sharpness, I just want to create images that please me.

X-T1 with XF55-200 - F16 - 180 Seconds - ISO200

X-T1 with XF55-200 – F16 – 180 Seconds – ISO200

“The work I shoot now totally reflects how I feel about the world and myself, I can pour my soul into those little black bodies and know that they are keeping it safe for me.”

 

XT-1 with XF10-24 @ 16mm - F22 - 70 Seconds - ISO200

XT-1 with XF10-24 @ 16mm – F22 – 70 Seconds – ISO200

X-Pro1 with XF14mm - F16 - 200 Seconds - ISO200

X-Pro1 with XF14mm – F16 – 200 Seconds – ISO200

X-Pro1 with XF14mm - F11 - 280 seconds - ISO200

X-Pro1 with XF14mm – F11 – 280 seconds – ISO200

XT-1 with XF18-55 @ 22mm - F20 - 8 Seconds - ISO200

XT-1 with XF18-55 @ 22mm – F20 – 8 Seconds – ISO200

More info

All of the images featured in this blog post are available to purchase as Fine Art Prints on Paul Sanders’ official website
You can also follow Paul on Twitter or Facebook.

10 replies »

  1. We met at the Photo Show at the NEC in 2013 and you helped me with my Think Tank purchase. Since then I have enjoyed looking at your photos and your current batch are fantastic. I dam nit a professional photographer and nor do I aspire to be but I simply want up take the best pictures I can. That a small camera can generate such lovely photos is a testament to you and Fuji — now in a quandry based on the financial commitment already made to Canon. Thanks a lot! 😉

    Like

  2. Lovely article Paul! My son Matthew loves photography I wd like to get him one of these Fuji cameras I think it wd be great for him!

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  3. Very interesting and I totally agree with you about shooting what you love. I’ve been a pro commercial photographer for years and every time I pick up my 5dMK 2 or 1DS MK2 it just feels like work. When I shoot with my X Pro 1 and little XF1 I just feel so happy!.
    Best of luck with your work.
    Dave Thrower

    Like

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