CCP asks Sophie Howarth the deep questions about her craft
1. What gets you out of bed every day?
Sounds gently pierce sleep in the darkness. My imagination gets going and eventually drives me out of bed coupled with thoughts of the first cup of tea! At this time I feel very captivated by the natural elements and energies around me. I think the early morning is a special time of day.
2. Who is the photographer that has inspired you the most?
Interestingly I am mostly visually inspired by artforms other than photography such as painting. I like photographers who have a philosophy to their craft for example Cartier Bresson’s ‘Decisive Moment’. Photography artists who have inspired me because of their techniques: Peter Beard, Dan Eldon, Duanne Michaels, Robert Frank later experimental work. These photographers work with traditional analogue photography and work elements such as hand writing, storylines through multiple images and ‘cut and paste’ diary look.
3. What current camera are you shooting with?
4. When you are on a shoot do you play music? What other essential items do you have with you for a successful session?
Inner dialogue is key for me when shooting so music is not necessary – simplicity is essential when I shoot so nothing external is really needed except the subject and the camera.
My work is mostly on location and the key is myself to be in the right frame of being so that I see well when the potential for a photo appears. The right frame of my being allows me to be sensitive and aware as possible to what reveals itself before so that I am sharp and available; my intuition free to flow. I am alert and therefore my responses will be optimum.
5. In the digital world how important is the print?
The print to me will always remain important. Equally in the digital world to me as in the analogue. I love paper. I understand my work differently when I see it on paper than on the screen. Holding a print and moving it around, hanging it on my studio wall and ‘living with it’ is a key part of my process.
6. B/W – Colour – Analogue – Digital. Put these words in your order of preference and tell us why.
I can’t they all seem to sit independently in no order for me. Equal.
7. Have you exhibited your work, and other than the print, how important was the framing process to you?
The framing process for me is inseparable from the print. They really speak to each other when I am creating an exhibition of work.
It is a language exhibition photography – so the framing is integrated into the correct conversation between print, frame and exhibition space. The exhibition space, photos, framing all equate to the message of the work connecting to the audience. What you want to impart is free to meet its target with the right combination of materials with the right image.
8. What defines a great image?
A great image is one that ‘lives on’, how it lives on in my experience is through the feeling it inspires in the viewer. If the image is captured correctly the photo will live.
A photograph that has a deep feeling of presence for me is the key. No matter the subject or style it is this that engages the audience.
In the beginning of my career before I found Cartier Bresson’s philosophy ‘The Decisive Moment’ I called it presence. I felt this decisive moment potently whilst photographing music festivals. Discovering his term deepened my understanding of the power of a photograph. I have carried this as a photographer because it made meaning of how and why photographs ‘work’.
9. What is your favourite photo that you have taken? Why?
This is impossible! – there can be no favourites, they are all so different for different reasons they speak.
10. What is the best photography advice you have been given? Tell us by who if you can or want to?
Geoff Lung who I was a photography assistant for early in my career once said that the business of photography was mostly shooting in the early formative years and a little bit business and administration. Then it flips and the struggle is to keep the shooting and creating work as the business and administration takes over. I have experienced this is my career – the business of photography. Keeping an office/studio/clients/accounts and now I have an extensive archive to maintain. So to distil Geoff’s advice was to be mindful of this and keep an eye on your craft. The business side is an endless piece of string but the photographing ..well we all know that’s the magic! That is why we get out of bed!!
11. When you are not taking photos, what are you doing?
Sophie Howarth - October 2022