CCP asks Rosie English the deep questions about her craft
1. What gets you out of bed every day?
Life and Light - I always have to live somewhere where the sun rises through my window. The light has to stream in - I live for light.
2. Who is the photographer that has inspired you the most?
So so many - from Alfred Stieglitz to Brasso, Heinrich Kuhn (his autochromes), Max Dupain, Olive Cotton, Southworth & Hawes (daguerreotypes), Ansell Adams, August Sander, Dorothea Lange, Yousef Karsh, Dianne Arbus, Cartier-Bresson, Lady Clementina Hawarden, Julia Margaret Cameron - there are so many.
3. What current camera are you shooting with?
My favourites are my Leica M9 and 35mm Leica lens, I love a rangefinder and the M9 is digital but to me comes closest to the film experience in tones, textures and captures of ‘soul’. I also love my Rolleiflex TLR and my Mamiya 6 which is medium format analogue rangefinder and my Leica M3. My Nikon d800 with 80-200 lens captures the ocean/surf/storms for me. And then my Leica x-u captures quickly and easily life near the water in a ‘shoot’ from the hip way.
4. When you are on a shoot do you play music? What other essential items do you have with you for a successful session?
I listen to music when I am shooting storms in the ocean (which I love) - and then I listen to a combination of House Music and Classical (Vivaldi & Chopin) and I ascend into a trance state with my camera, nature and music. When I am shooting people I need to hear what is going on around me - their breathing, what they are saying - so no music.
5. In the digital world how important is the print?
The print for me is a whole different experience from viewing an image online/instagram as it renders the image tangible and gives it life.
6. B/W - Colour - Analogue - Digital.
Put these words in your order of preference and tell us why.
Equally. I love BW, love Colour, love Analogue - Digital is my least favourite.
7. Have you exhibited your work, and other than the print, how important was the framing process to you?
Framing is essential - the border, the colour of the frame/wood, the thickness and when I have a client purchase my work - I love to be involved with where the image is going to be place and work in tandem with them and my printer/framer to get everything right for the image, the location and that is everything is right.
8. What defines a great image?
For me - I feel it…it touches me and inspires me and captures an essence of life itself.
9. What is your favourite photo that you have taken? Why?
So many genres from Daguerreotypes to autochromes to analogue to pictorialism to street. My least favourite now is the ‘perfection’ of digital cameras. I like character in images.
10. What is the best photography advice you have been given? Tell us by who if you can or want to?
After I read about Ansel Adams and how he ‘created’ his works at home through his dark room techniques and editing and would spend days at a time ‘fixing’ images which originally had not been great. His quote ‘you don’t take a photograph, you make it’ was seminal and so liberating for me. I had in the beginning believed I had to get all the settings rights and capture the image perfectly in the moment. After that I ran around taking photos on automatic and not worrying about settings (that comes with time) and realised and discovered the joy of Lightroom and photoshop and I would spend hours and hours at home in front of my screen (my 21st century darkroom) working and creating images e.g. lightening/darkening, shadows, cropped, straightening, highlighting.
11. When you are not taking photos, what are you doing?
I adore the ocean, the beach, people, life, movies, art, literature, travel, fashion, food, history, philosophy.
Rosie English - September 2023
‘A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it’ - Edward Steichen