As summer approaches, we will all be beginning to approach the coastland. Whether you’re heading to the shores for some summer beach relaxation or jus…
Tommy Reynolds - May's Photographer of the Month
My name is Tommy Reynolds and I’m a portrait and commercial photographer born and raised in Kent.
How did you get into photography?
I first got into photography when I took a GCSE in the subject thinking “Ah, that sounds pretty cool”. I loved taking photos anyway so I thought it would be great to learn more. As it turns out, I ended up hating the subject because of the way it was taught. It was taught from a very contemporary/fine art approach, which I wasn’t interesting in at the time… I wanted to know how to use the damn thing in manual mode, which I was never taught. After GCSE, I decided to buy my first DSLR with my friend who bought the same one as me. We both went to the zoo quite often and forced ourselves to stay in manual mode and learn how to use all the functions. If the image came out dark, I would keep changing the settings till I got a decent exposure then made a mental note of that. Your learn best from your own mistakes. YouTube was a big help too!
From there, I set up my own Facebook page, Tommy Reynolds Photography and started shooting local bands and became known as the local ‘band photographer’. It was also a great confidence booster because now I had an excuse hanging from my neck to approach someone and introduce myself and offer my services for their band. I still enjoy photographing live stuff but prefer shooting bands portraits now. Growing up was a lot of fun working with local bands and formed the foundation of a local following, which is really important when you’re starting out!
Do you have any particular style of photography you specialise in?
I love portraits. People in general fascinate me which is why I love shooting people and learning their stories and trying to convey their personality through my images. Portraits are a very powerful thing and that’s why every shoot I do is different because its not about me, its about the person I’m photographing. In India & Sri Lanka, I wanted to photograph them on the street but use a light and modifier to give a more professional feel and less paparazzi. Its still photo journalism I guess but I like to think its finessed slightly because I have purposely asked for their portrait and using lights etc. It’s still a representation of them in their own environment but finessed if that makes sense.
I also shoot a lot of artists and musicians with the same goal in mind which is trying to draw out their personality and create an accurate representational portrait of them. Weather I’m photographing a celebrity or a holy Monk from India, my end is and always will be the same.
Tell us about one of your projects…
Every year I go to Sri Lanka with a charity called ‘Take Heart Mercy Mission’ whom visit Galle every year to perform heart surgery for free on young children at the Karapitiya hospital. The charity consists of approximately 15 doctors, surgeons and nurses from the Evalina Children’s Hospital in London whom give up their own holiday to make the trip once a year.
My job is photograph and document the journey. 3 years after I have joined the charity, I am hosting a photo exhibition of all the images I have taken in the hospital and around the town, which is happening on the 24th March. This will showcase the work that we do and the culture of the country. Its only now I feel I have a body of work that Im proud to make a debut exhibit. My inspiration for the style of the images is from one of my favorite photographers called Joey Lawrence (Joey L) whom also photographers portraits of people in third world countries. When I first saw his work and thought they were so so thought provoking that I wanted to do my own interpretation of that style in Sri Lanka with the locals. I wanted to capture them in their natural environment but finesse slightly to look less ‘photo journalist’… some are more posed than others.
If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring photographers what would it be?
Only photograph what you enjoy. I know that might sound obvious but I once got caught in a rut only photographing corporate stuff and not feeling very creative. This didn’t allow me to try new things because I didn’t want to try it on a paying client so I decided to start a series of personal projects and I strongly suggest this if you’re a working photographer. Once a month, do a photo shoot for you. Not for a client, for you! Organise a photo shoot to give you an excuse to try out a new lighting setup, new lens, new flash, anything you’re not comfortable with and you’ll learn so much and feel at ease doing it because there’s no pressure to do a good job. You’ll then take what you’ve learnt and can use that on a paying client. Only put that work on your website or work you actually want to get hired to do. Your personal work is work that’s the closest thing to your style and what makes you unique. So start shooting personal work NOW.
Where can we see your work next?
You can see my work on
facebook at Tommy Reynolds Photography
twitter : @tommyreynolds89
or my website feat. My blog at www.tommyreynolds.co.uk
I have just released my brand new online shop where you can purchase my sri lanka and India images taken recently which I’m very excited about.