Today we have the privilege of crossing the Atlantic to learn a bit about a very talented and interesting photographer. His name is Aaron Northcott and, while based in England, he’s traveled throughout Europe to capture what I can only describe as mesmerizing photographs. Luckily, Aaron has graciously sent over some of his favorite photos for display alongside this interview, so you’ll have a chance to see what I’m referring to. It appears that Aaron has taken his love of photography and translated it into an art for all of us to admire.
To learn more about Aaron, please be sure to visit his website or follow him on Twitter. I’d also like to send out a personal “thank you” to Aaron for sharing some of his background and interests with us. I truly appreciate it.
1. Can you please tell our readers a bit about yourself?
My name is Aaron, I’m primarily a photographer of wildlife and landscapes but I never limit myself to just that, and will always take the shot if there’s a great photograph awaiting, no matter what the subject or style may be! I have been in photography now for around 8 years properly, but I’ve always had a camera close at hand ever since I was young.
2. Where do you call home?
Colchester is my hometown – the oldest recorded town in England, heaped in history, and packed full of interesting buildings, landmarks (and even a castle!) for photography.
3. After browsing through some of your work and reading your bio, it’s obvious that you have a love of photography. What is it that led you towards photography and how long have you been working in it?
Wildlife has always been my true passion – I grew up watching Natural World (a BBC wildlife documentary series) every Sunday evening, and when most kids would be kicking a football around in the street, I would be looking for insects and spiders hiding amongst the undergrowth. Time passed by and I still hadn’t decided on a career path . . . skipping from job to job, until eventually my hobby of photography became something more and allowed me to combine two great interests into one amazing job.
4. Are you self taught or formally taught?
I’ve never had any formal training in photography and even all of my wildlife knowledge is self taught. I spent a long time playing around with cameras as I grew up, and began to learn the different settings and how to create certain effects and learn the compositions I favoured most.
Eventually I took things a little more seriously, and I spent many hours analysing the work of photographers I admire – figuring out why I liked different images and how I could draw different aspects of this into my own work.
5. Where have you found the majority of valuable information along your journey?
The internet is undoubtedly the most valuable resource – sure I’ve got a few photography guides and manuals (mainly bought for me as Christmas or Birthday presents from encouraging friends and family!) but they unfortunately do little more than collect dust on a bookshelf.
If you have a question about a certain area of photography, you’re looking for some inspiration, or even just want some advice, the internet is always there – and you can almost always find an answer to whatever you’re looking for with just a few taps on the keyboard.
6. From looking through the galleries on your site, I can see that you’ve been to a variety of locations. Of those you visited, which was your favorite and why?
It is so difficult to name just one place or one region as a favourite, because everywhere has something different to offer – the different foods, cultures, landscapes – and let’s not forget the wildlife!
I’m quite a solitary person and I like time away from people, and so for that reason I’m going to say that (so far) Norway is probably one of my favourite places. The tranquility of the forests and the mountains is unparalleled . . . the air is fresh and scented with pine, the landscapes change and progress as you walk, and (although it can be difficult to see) there is an abundance of exciting wildlife to photograph – from bears and elk, to lynx and goshawk.
7. Regarding your styles of photography, which do you prefer the most?
Wildlife photography will always be my favourite type of photography. It’s always been my real passion and it is what led me to becoming a photographer in the first place!
8. Regarding your wildlife photos, which truly are remarkable, what advice can you offer to those who would like to begin taking these types of photographs?
Study the work of photographers you admire and try to understand how they took the images you like most. A lot of photographers will also publish information with their images such as the cameras, lenses, and settings like ISO and Aperture they’ve used to capture each image . . . which is a great way of understanding how to correctly take photographs.
Don’t forget, photography is completely subjective and you’ll never be able to take an image that is loved by everyone, so the most important thing is to work on a style that makes you happy.
9. What is your favorite part of being a photographer?
The travelling. It gives me the chance to constantly experience new things, meet new people, and see different landscapes and wildlife.
10. What is the most challenging part of being a photographer?
The hardest part of being a photographer for most is finding income. It’s a fantastic job and one that I thoroughly love, but very few photographers will ever be living an extravagant lifestyle – work is contracted or commissioned, and you can sometimes go for a very long time before finding a new project.
11. What do you do to keep your photography fresh and how do you stay motivated?
I am quite competitive and I’m constantly comparing my work to others. I love to find amazing images that I could only aspire to take. That’s what inspires me to ‘keep going’ in the hope that one day I might take images as incredible as that.
12. Who or what inspires you in your personal life and work?
I have a lot of magazine subscriptions – BBC Wildlife, National Geographic, Traveller, the list goes on, and I’ve always drawn a lot of inspiration from the images and topics covered in these. I would find it difficult to work as a photographer if I didn’t have inspiration, or aspirations to create truly breathtaking images – and for that reason I would definitely say that publications like this have been a valuable resource from the very beginning.
13. Who is your favorite photographer?
There are so many photographers with amazing work, and across so many styles as well – it is hard to pick just one!
I think that Trey Ratcliff is a very interesting photographer, because he has managed to combine his blog, HDR photography, and courses into his livelihood in a way most couldn’t. It definitely takes a very particular kind of photographer with real personality to achieve that.
14. What industry sites and blogs do you read regularly? Would any stand out as particularly motivational or inspirational for someone who might be interested in learning about photography?
I’m always coming across new photographers and websites online with lots of incredible images and archives of photography tips and advice. Honestly though I don’t really have ‘general photography’ websites that I visit often, and most of my questions are simply answered by a quick search on Google!
There are some really interesting websites I do visit for wildlife news and photography – one of which is wildlifeextra.com. It seems relatively little known, but has some really good regular updates.
15. What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What’s your favorite lens?
I mainly use Canon equipment. At the moment I’m enjoying working with the 6D, but I also use a Sony A7r mirrorless from some of my landscape shots.
Although it’s not great for the wildlife photography, my favourite lens is definitely my set 50mm lens with a f/1.8. It’s not a very fancy lens, but I’m a big fan of nice bright images with a beautifully blurry bokah . . . which this lens is perfect for.
16. What is your favorite photography accessory?
I often connect my camera up wirelessly to my phone and use a remote viewing app and trigger. It’s really useful when you need to be hidden from your subject – such as when you’ve set it up on a nest or den.
The only downside is that you can’t move the camera via the app, so you have to hope that when the subject comes into view it’s in a nicely composed position!
17. What piece of equipment would you most like to acquire that you don’t have yet?
To be honest I’m pretty happy with my set up at the moment. There are lots of cool gadgets and accessories around, but I think a lot of them are not really necessary and probably exploit a lot of the photographers who like to have everything, when really all it does is add extra weight for you to carry around (perhaps countered by the lighter wallet!).
18. Was there a point in your journey when you started to feel really good about your work? If so, what did it feel like to get past that “tipping point?”
I find this quite a difficult question to answer, because photography is so subjective I’ve always tried more than anything to create images that I am happy with myself (which rarely happens – there’s always something I would change in most of my images).
I value knowledge and I love to feel as though I really understand things – which I guess means my main ‘tipping point’ was when I realised that I could look at images that inspire me and instead of thinking ‘how do they do that?’ I could look at it and understand it technically. That’s the point I think I felt comfortable calling myself a photographer.
19. Are there any areas of photography that you have yet to pick up on that you’d like to learn?
At the moment I’m working on a lot of HDR stuff, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s obviously not overly applicable when it comes to wildlife, but it does allow for some really interesting and vibrant landscapes and urban photography. I’m soon going to be releasing some new HDR images that I took recently in Sweden, which will have quite a few photographs in this style among others.
20. What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I don’t have any definite plans for the future, but I would like to work more with some of the charities I’ve come across on my travels. I’m planning on donating some of my work for use in fundraising and to help raise awareness of conservation issues – and in particular, I’m hoping to work more closely with a couple of charities that are helping to rescue bears from bile farms in Asia.