Photography News | Issue 47 | photographynews.co.uk
Profile DavidNoton Noton is one is the UK’s leading travel photographers and while he was between trips we grabbed the chance to have a chat him about his life, work and everything
Photography captivated me 37 years ago and it’s dominated my life ever since. To establish yourself as a professional photographer takes time; to carve out a niche doing travel and landscape work you can double that. But for me there was never any other option; beautiful pictures of beautiful places are what brought me into the profession in the first place. The seemingly endless waiting sometimes gets tome; it’s quite normal to devote a couple of weeks to one image. I seem to spend my life waiting for the right light but it is somuch part ofthejobthatcomplainingaboutitisas pointless as a fisherman complaining the sea is wet! No photographer can wave a magic wand to make a shoot in poor light work. Deadlines have to be either weather flexible or reasonable; otherwise I’ll decline the job. But that being said it’s always worth persisting withwhat appearshopeless situations; I’m often surprised with what Mother Nature serves upwhen all looks grim. In 1976 I joined the Merchant Navy as a deck officer cadet in search of travel and adventure, where my interest in photography began. After three years sailing the seven seas I went to college in Gloucester to study photography graduating in 1985. I jumped in at the deep end as a freelance photographer based in Bristol. Initially I was grateful for any photographic work I could get, but gradually I inchedmyway up the ladder of professional photography. Along the way I won awards in the landscape categories of the British Gas/BBC Wildlife Photography Competition in 1985, 1990 and 1991. Since 1995 our business has been based in Milborne Port, near Sherborne, on the Dorset/Somerset border. My main activity is as a landscape travel photographer, although these days I’m a writer, film maker and publisher too. But the photography always comes first, the rest is all in support of that.
In the 32 years I’ve been a professional I’ve travelled to every continent in the world except Antarctica - and that’s on the list. My wife Wendy and I spend much of the year travelling, there’s always a new horizonbeckoning.I’mstillpassionate about photography and feel like I’m only starting, there’s so much more to learn. All aspects of photography fascinate me; from capturing the first light of day on a frosty landscape or making the most of a bustling market in Vietnam to portraying the dignity of a wrinkled face in China. Although the constantly evolving technologies of photography demand that my ways of working both in the field and in the digital darkroom are always developing one fact remains the same: it’s the pictures that matter. My main activity now is producing photography, stories and videos for our own publishing activity; namely the f11 Photography Magazine which we publishmonthly for exclusively for our f11members. These days stock photography is not a priority. When shooting stock wasmymain activity Iwas constantly surprised with what sold well. It was very rarely my favourite images. I found my transport and business related images sold best. My best ever selling imagewas a shot of commuters crossing London Bridge with lots of motion blur so individuals faces couldn’t be recognized. It’s not exactly an image I’d hang on thewall! Stock photography is a business service, not art, somy best landscapes rarely did well as stock. Stock photography by its very nature panders toclichés. Pro photographers of all disciplines are often required to produce images to order, usually of very boring subjects. A photographer who can make a dull subject visually interestingwill dowell. If you want to shoot stock think about what it’s going to cost you, and what you’re likely to earn in return.
Years in the photo industry? 32. How did that happen? Current location? Milborne Port, Somerset. Last picture taken? This morning at 6.29am on Bulbarrow Hill When youwere younger, what did youwant to bewhen you grewup? Formula One World Champion Dogs or cats? Dogs Toast or cereal? Toast, with peanut butter Email or phone call? Depends on who is calling! Increasingly the phone
traces of maple syrup inmy blood. I also love our annual trips to France, and Italy, not to mention South East Asia, and Australia. But SouthAmerica has been the scene for many of our recent adventures; we’re not long back fromArgentina. I have south-west France next, then Greece, Colombia later in the year. Essentially, it’s more adventure, more travel, more waiting for the light, more steaks in South America, more striving to become a better photographer, more spectacles in some of the world’s most beautiful places, more laughs with my wife Wendy on the road and in the garden, and inevitably more emails.
Shoot the subjects no one else is. A picture of Durdle Door is never going to set the world alight, no matter how good, but an image which sums the quandaries of climate change justmay. Turning pixels into cash just gets harder and harder, but then again my lifebehindthelensprovesthatdreams can come true. To survive in theworld of professional photography you have be more dedicated, more committed, more driven, more organized, more persistent, more determined, more imaginative and, quite frankly, more foolhardy then the rest. Security and stability are never an option in this game. You’re also going to have to be incredibly creative, not just behind the lens but also with the way you present yourself to the world in the search for work. Standing out from the crowd is not easy, but then again nothingworthwhile ever is. My favourite UK location is home, here in Dorset. Last week I was in Wester Ross; when the light’s good in Scotland there are few places I’d rather be. Around the world I love Canada, because I was partly brought up there, and it’s a landscape photographer’s paradise. There’s so much room, and so much wilderness. Cut an armoff and I’msure you’d find
My best ever selling image was a shot of commuters crossing London Bridge with lots of motion blur
For more info
David Noton contributed to Adobe Stock’s Visual Trend ‘No Man Is An Island’, which celebrates mankind’s relationship with the natural environment. Find out more about Adobe Stock at: stock.adobe.com/uk
Images Noton's work takes him all around the world – Antarctica he hasn't been to yet, but it's on his list.
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