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Landscape photographer, Simon Turnbull, shares his career journey and the secrets to success as a landscape photographer.
Based in Hertfordshire, UK, Simon Turnbull is a landscape photographer who creates inspiring and thoughtful images of intimate landscapes, nature, and travel scenes.
He discovered his love for photography growing up in the Lake District, UK, and has since developed a strong passion for it. He was the “Your View” category winner of Landscape Photographer of the Year in 2022 and was awarded Top 101 in International Landscape Photographer of the Year 2021. For Turnbull, photography serves as a means of escape, enabling him to find inner peace and mental clarity.
Continue reading as Simon shares his experience as a landscape photographer and life philosophy.
Photography works by Simon
What inspired you to be a photographer?
I started learning photography back in 2012. I was very sporty back then but had a few injuries. When you have a young family, participating in sports is hard to fit in and I wanted to find a creative outlet, since I didn’t have one with my corporate day job. I watched lots of YouTube tutorials and working through the qualifications with the Royal Photographic Society helped me improve as well. I’ve been doing photography for 10 years now and I love how I get to combine being outdoors with a creative pursuit.
What is the most interesting and challenging part of photography?
The interesting thing about photography is when you capture the right lighting conditions. A beautiful sunrise or a misty morning. I went out a couple of weeks ago just after a storm, and I found some lovely moss on the trees which were backlit by the sun coming out with lots of raindrops. That was just a magical moment.
The challenging part is waking up very early with a weary body and checking the weather apps to make sure there might be any snow or fog, ideal shooting conditions for me. It’s disappointing when the weather isn’t right, but I remind myself to see it as a process because it’s more about being outdoors in nature and appreciating the planet we live on. These points make process all more rewarding.
Can you share 3 things that you think are the key factors to succeed?
First, when it comes to photography, I believe taking your time is crucial. You will have a more relaxed and enjoyable experience when taking the time to find one composition versus rushing around to take lots of pictures.
Second, the photo itself is more important than having expensive gear. Basic equipment can be used to capture great pictures, but it’s important to realize that there’s more to photography than just the equipment.
Third, it’s essential to understand how to work your equipment. Many clients I work with haven't taken the time to learn about their cameras, even though there are manuals and tutorials available. By mastering your camera's settings and functions, you can focus on composition and take advantage of perfect conditions.
Notes from a Small Island by Simon
What are the details that you care about the most and never compromise in your work as a photographer?
As my photography skills advanced, having a story in the picture has become more meaningful to me. This could be more than just a picture; it can help you to write a blog or an article to accompany the images. Also, there’s a fine line between being inspired by other photographers and copying them. I try to be honest with myself rather than replicating others' work. This kind of originality comes with slowing down and mindfulness, letting the picture be as good as it can be.
What do you believe is an important aspect of your work that most ordinary people overlook besides the photo itself?
A newspaper once described an image of mine as a ‘snap’. For me, photography is an art form with a huge amount of crafts involved, something like being a painter or a musician. I’m using nature to help create artistic photos rather than record a moment to put on social media. So, for me being out in nature, the mindfulness that brings and the art of crafting an image is more important than the final photo itself.
Simon's ergo chair and photography gear items
What are some photography gear items that you consider essential?
I try not to be too gear obsessed but it is obviously helpful to have decent camera and lens. In fact, a good lens is often more important than the camera itself. Also having a monitor with good color display functions will be important when editing and help ensure the final pictures look fantastic. Using a good tripod could also be helpful. A few of my clients have bad tripods, and they spend the whole time fighting with the tripod but not thinking about the scene and composition.
Are there any potential career ending injuries you’ve had or currently experiencing?
Landscape photographers are usually cursed with a bad back because of carrying a lot of gear. Hurting your back might end your career. Many photographers can’t go out because their backs have gone into spasm. It’s important to get an ergonomic backpack and, for me, downsizing my gear to lighter models has really helped. In addition, as I spend a lot of time sitting behind the computer screen and editing pictures, I’ve got an ergonomic chair with a height adjustment that supports my back. Sometimes I will sit with the tennis ball behind my back to prevent slouching.
Simon's desk setup with ScreenBar Halo
What do you think about our ScreenBar Halo?
The box looked sleek and modern. I never used this kind of light as ScreenBar Halo before. The setup was easy and intuitive while I used it at home, and then I took it to my London office, which is a dingy, dark room. It even worked nicely on my son’s gaming monitor, which is a curve one. With ScreenBar Halo, everything becomes brighter without causing any screen glare. One of my favorite parts is the wireless puck, it controls the function of auto-dimming temperature and intensity. From an eye-side point of view, people who need long periods editing photos or doing a day job like me may benefit from this light. To be honest, I get a sense that just makes my eyes less tired at the end of the day and enjoy turning it on when I get into the office.
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Simon and his two sons
On a scale of 1 to 100, how would you rate your life so far?
I would give it a 100. Though I experience minor “niggles”, such as bad knees and back, I still consider myself a lucky man. I am appreciative of the fact that I have two healthy young boys, a great wife, and living in a nice place. As I said before, being grateful is the key and cornerstone of being happy in life.
As an expert in the photography industry, what are your future goals?
I want to continue to develop my skills as a photographer, be open to new creative ideas, and wait for the next spark of inspiration to catch me.
Do you have any advice for those who want to become a photographer?
Just do it. You don’t need fancy equipment to get started, there’re loads of accessible online tutorials to learn from.
Robin Moffatt, a British developer with a bachelor’s degree in music, has been working with data for over twenty years. He mainly works in the field of developer relations (also known as DevRel, which covers different teams whose responsibility is to create and foster communities of developers). As part of this role creates YouTube videos, speaking at conferences, writing, and publishes blog articles. Now, he is a Principal Developer Experience Engineer at Treeverse. Continue reading as Robin goes in depth of his career journey, work-life balance, and his life philosophy.
Salman Chishti currently works as a Product Manager 2 at Microsoft. He is also currently a Microsoft Certified Trainer Regional Lead and previously was a Windows Insider MVP and Microsoft Azure MVP. Continue reading as Salman shares his career as a program manager and philosophy of life.
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