Photographer Interview 13: Belinda McCarthy
1. How long have you been a photographer?
Professionally, I’ve been working under my own name for about five years, but I’ve been a photographer literally since I was old enough to hold a camera, for my father was a professional photographer and also ran his own broadcasting company. So, he enlisted my ‘free help’ to work on shoots at the weekends – both still and broadcast. By the time I was ten, I could rig up an entire outside broadcast van in under ten minutes whilst moving at sixty miles an hour!
2. What inspires your work?
There’s something very peaceful about taking images – you have to be absolutely in the moment, with all your senses heightened, completely focused upon what’s around you. I like to use this heightened sense of awareness to capture the beauty we don’t normally see, as we’re too busy rushing around or thinking of other things.
Litter on the pavement can be beautiful; it’s about throwing away your pre-conceptions and tuning into things in a whole new way. That’s what inspires me; helping people see the beauty around them.
3. What media do you work in and why?
I grew up with film cameras, and still to this day am utterly in love with the character and feel different cameras and films attribute to a shot but it wasn’t until digital really kicked in that I discovered my real love for photography.
I absolutely love the fact that an image can be absolutely whatever you want it to be – from a realistic photojournalistic record to artistic representation. I also like to use a combination of digital media and post-processing techniques to work on ‘lo-fi’ interpretations of vintage analogue camera shots.
4. How would you describe your style of photography?
I think that my photography style is very much ‘life meets vintage meets Belinda’. Much of my work is very representational and emotional, with a very cinematic influence.
That’s the wonderful thing about photography – it’s a real art in that a million photographers, shooting the same scene, will produce a million different images. You pick up a camera and by the way, you use it, blend in personality and individuality.
5. Do you do any initial planning before starting on a new photography project?
I’ll typically have an idea of the kind of shots I’m looking to achieve before I start the shoot, but it tends to be mostly kept up in my head, no formal planning.
If I’m shooting people, then their personality is hugely important, so I allow the shoot to be very organic and develop naturally. Sometimes, it takes the out of camera image to be in front of me before I really know what I want to do with it to create the finished effect. Keeping an open mind as well as the client’s objectives to hand is vital.
6. Which other photographer or photographers most inspire you?
One photographer really springs to mind – Lou Bueno. Lou is an amazing New York based street photographer who was incredibly supportive and inspiring when I started working professionally. If it hadn’t been for him, I may not be doing this now. His images of NYC are stunning, probably the best I’ve ever seen – and he’s a 100% wonderful guy as well.
7. How do you deal with the business inside of being a photographer?
I really enjoy looking at other photographers’ work – any and all! It helps keep an open mind on how to shoot and by exposing myself to as many different styles as possible, it keeps me fresh.
I also keep updated on the latest product releases and techniques – we’re all constantly learning and I strive to keep improving. Business wise, as with any visual art, it’s key to keep releasing fresh new images and show people what you can do, so I use social media and networking as a platform to exhibit my work.
8. What words of advice would you give to any aspiring photographers out there?
Get out there and do it! Learn the essentials and techniques first and foremost, so you have a really good rapport with your equipment and processes – and then use this as a rock-solid base to start experimenting to inject your individuality into your work. Remember, a camera is only a tool – it can’t take great photographs. You can!
9. Forthcoming Work/Exhibitions
I’ve just completed an extensive shoot for a very glamorous charity calendar for Networking Women, in aid of registered charity Breast Cancer Haven. The official launch event for the calendar is being held at the shoot venue, the gorgeous Heythrop Park Hotel in Gloucestershire, on October 7th 2010. Tickets to the launch event can be booked at https://thenwcalendarlaunch.eventbrite.com/ – come and see the grand launch of the calendar and meet the businesswomen who feature in the calendar!
Background on Belinda McCarthy
Belinda McCarthy is an art, lifestyle and commercial photographer based in the South West of England. Her work has previously been featured in the Tate Modern in London, in the press and in art publications. Belinda’s portfolio can be viewed at www.belindamccarthy.co.uk