Header Image: Copyright – Photographer – William Quaranta / Model – Kseniya
How did you first start getting into photography? Was it something you have always wanted to do?
I can attribute my passion for photography to 3 key moments in my life:
The first would be when I was around 11 years old and purchased my first camera, a DSLR Nikon D3000.
I remember running around my grandmother’s garden trying to get pictures of the butterflies and various other wildlife. Which all came out very poorly and blurry, and after about 4/5 months, my camera was away in storage.
The next would be when I was 16, and I had just moved to a new school that offered a photography A-level course. I dusted off my camera, decided to attend, and had an absolutely fantastic teacher who really loved the portrait work I did for the introduction lesson and gave me a good level of confidence.
Unfortunately, I decided to leave that school after about 3 months, so my formal photography education ended there. And my camera was once again put away for a while.
I decided to take a gap year and went to experience working in retail before returning to a different college and taking part in a business degree.
The third and arguably the most critical moment was when I moved to Sicily at 22 a was amazed by the natural beauty of the landscapes, which encouraged me to pick up a camera once more and work on landscape and street photography.
About 2 and a half years ago, when I returned from Sicily to my hometown, I decided to focus on portrait work and set my goal to find a model and start my portrait journey properly. It was at this point I upgraded to a Nikon D3200, as I was looking for something that was a little better, cheap and that I knew I was familiar with the settings/layout, etc.
I also picked up an excellent selection of vintage lenses from the second-hand market to try out and experiment with.
(Most of my portrait work was done with this camera/set-up before an strong gust of wind blew over my tripod and broke it beyond repair mid-shoot)
How would you explain your photographic style when you meet someone for the first time?
Quite simply, I describe my style as Portrait or Boudoir when meeting someone new and then let my work speak for itself.
I don’t want to give people any expectations about my work before they can see it themselves.
Have you had any formal training in photography or is all your knowledge self-taught?
Besides the 3 months of photography A-level course I attended at 16 (which mainly helped with editing more than anything else), I am entirely self-taught.
This way, I forced myself to learn about my camera is that I have 1 pretty simple rule for myself, ALWAYS shoot in manual, never automatic.
For people who don’t know what that means, the camera can either choose all the settings for you, or you can do it yourself.
For me, if you point and shoot on automatic settings, then you aren’t really a photographer; you aren’t really in control of your image.
As a user of vintage lenses, I am forced to shoot manual as the lenses will only work on this setting and with the appropriate adaptor.
What camera and lenses do you currently shoot with, and which software do you edit with?
Having spent about 2 years with my D3200, after its untimely death, I decided to give myself a proper upgrade that I felt I had earned after all the improvement I could see in my work, so I went for the Nikon Z50, which is the camera I’m using today.
The lenses I use will depend on the shoot I’m doing, but my favourite lens in my bag is my Jupiter 11A 4/135 135mm F4.
And all my photo editing is all done on Adobe Photoshop.
If you could one have 1 piece of photography equipment in your bag other than your camera and lens, what would it be?
This one is easy, spare SD Cards!!
I go through them like they are going out of fashion.
My average shoot time is around 2 – 3 hours long, and I usually come away with about 1000-2000 images.
But an essential support item would be a tripod for me; I love using one, as it allows for lower shutter speeds without camera wobble.
In your opinion, how do you decide when something you create meets or exceeds your expectations?
This one is hard to answer, so I’ll explain some of my processes.
For portraits, after a shoot, I will take my 1000ish pictures and move them to my photo bank, where I store most of my shoots.
I will quickly scroll through all the pictures in about 3-4 minutes, and there will be ones that jump out at me as being better than the rest. These are the ones that I will edit. And sometimes, I will ask the model to choose some pictures they like the most and edit them in my style.
Not all pictures I edit will make it to being published; I try to edit around 15/20 photos from each shoot for the model to have personally, and then 5/6 of those images will be used on my Instagram feed.
I sometimes revisit shoots in the archives and look through for something I may have missed or something I can use to edit and play around with to work on my editing style.
The process of creating surrealist pictures is entirely different; it requires much more time looking for the correct images to use, using multiple images that work together, etc…
But I never know what I really feel about the image until all the editing is done and I take a moment to step back and look at it.
Choosing only one Black/White or Colour photograph, which would you choose and why?
At the moment, I would choose Black and White.
I personally struggled with black-and-white editing when I first started portrait photography, as I didn’t have too much experience with it. So I have been forcing myself to improve this area.
But I do love colour photography too. I like to look at the picture, and sometimes you can just tell if it would suit colour or black and white more.
If you could arrange your perfect photoshoot (without restrictions), what would it be?
I would love to travel to Sub-Saharan Africa and do some boudoir/surreal shoots in the desert landscape.
I would absolutely love to be able to find some wild Ibis to photograph, which live primarily there, hence why I chose that particular area.
In an age of modern mobile phones with excellent cameras, what do you see for the future of photography?
I’m sure I’ll upset a few people here with my opinion, but people who use solely mobile phones are not photographers.
In the same way, people with a DSLR and who use only automatic settings are not real photographers.
I think to be able to call yourself a photographer; you absolutely need to understand the process behind the images, the shutter speed, exposure, contrast, etc.
While, of course, you can take some fantastic pictures with any camera, anyone can point and shoot a picture of something and let the equipment do all the work.
Does putting boiling water in a pot noodle or a frozen meal in the microwave make you a chef?
So to put it simply, I’m not concerned; I can do things with a camera and vintage lens combo that can not be replicated by a mobile phone.
Do you have any goals that you want to achieve in the next 3 years?
3 years from now, I hope to have had at least one exhibition of my work.
I recently had my first magazine publication, a fantastic milestone for me to hit.
I also want to start selling some prints of my surrealist photography that I’m currently working on.