Skip to main content

Boy in the Tundra - An Interview with Simon Morris

7 years ago

The 2017 Sony World Photography Awards is now open and free to enter for all photographers. 

Simon Morris was shortlisted in the People category and was a 2nd Place winner in the UK National Award of the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards. 


Congratulations on your success in this year's Sony World Photography Awards. Tell us more about your winning image.
My successful image depicts a small Nenets boy playing out on the Tundra in extremely cold weather: -40 in the Yamal region of Siberia. I stayed with his family of reindeer herders in a wigwam like structure called a 'chum' for around a week on the frozen tundra. Taking pictures in these conditions is both hard and challenging, both for the person taking the pictures and on the camera equipment. I took 3 digital cameras with me on this trip; two malfunctioned because of the extreme cold, and only one camera worked.

What is your background? How did you get into photography?
I have been taking pictures for around 15 years now and was initially influenced by my father to take up Photography. Also it was around the time I started visiting New York and attempted to capture anything that breathed with my little 'point and shoot' camera. On that trip I made the same basic mistakes and errors that all beginners make in photography. But it certainly wet my creative side. As the years went by I began to take far better travel pictures with atmosphere and punch and began to be published in quite a few photography magazines. Incidentally, I placed runner up last year in the National Sony Awards for the UK with my image 'The Mongol’. Maybe I can win next year!

Do you have a photographic philosophy?
My Philosophy is that I love to take pictures with atmosphere and to creare small worlds where a story is told. The best pictures always tells a story or has a narrative. I like to create a picture whereby the viewer hasn't got to work too hard to fathom the story. I tend to take pictures in the beginning or end of the day and I stay away from harsh light, but enjoy taking images in subdued or flat light if I can. I tend to steer clear of tourist traps for my photos and find it motivationally sapping to see the same old touristy picture churned out time after time. I strive to be original and fresh in my approach. Music, art, reading and other photographers have a influence on the way I work.

What does photography mean to you?
It means capturing unique moments in time. That moment or image can never be replicated again. I wish my images to have an impact on the viewer or to motivate them with their own photography.

Can you tell us about a current or future photographic project you have planned?
I find travelling to far flung locations exhilarating. Countries that are rich in culture. Countries like Russia, China, Burma, Cuba, they all have this rich culture. However at the moment I am drawn to extreme cold regions. I feel there is beauty there. For my current project I just spent 2 weeks in Yakutsk Siberia spending time with the Evenki Reindeer Herders in the Taiga. I found their life harsh and brutal, working in extremely low temperatures like they do, but it was good to document this. I wish to journey to Chukotka in the very far North Siberia in the next year or so. Not many people venture there in the winter, but I will.