I love photography because it gives instant results. Being a designer, sometimes it takes a while for my ideas to come to fruition, but with photography I can pick up my camera, click a few buttons and get an instant creative output. I can take a shot to capture a moment, or I can visually express all the ideas flowing through my head.
Carl Jeffers is shortlisted in the Portraits category of the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards. His image, alongside the other winners will be exhibited at Somerset House, London from 21 April - 7 May.
Hi Carl - tell us a little about you
I'm a Graphic Designer by trade, and a self-taught amateur photographer from a little city called Preston in the UK. I bought my first camera a few years back as a birthday gift to myself and practised at any spare moment. I have an ever-growing passion for photography as I continue to learn, and my style tends to utilise simplicity, colour, tone, texture, light and shadows.
Why photography? When did you first start using the medium and why?
I love photography because it gives instant results. Being a designer, sometimes it takes a while for my ideas to come to fruition, but with photography I can pick up my camera, click a few buttons and get an instant creative output. I can take a shot to capture a moment, or I can visually express all the ideas flowing through my head. It's such an amazing outlet for a creative, one I now can't see myself without. I first started taking photos just under 3 years ago when I started dating my now fiancee. She's always loved fashion styling and modelling and one day I was out taking photos of her with my friend's camera, and not only did I fall in love with her but I fell in love with photography too. After buying myself a camera a few months later, I taught myself via YouTube videos, blogs, and instagram, whilst practising my skills taking fashion photos of my fiancee, my also very creative siblings, and some friends. I then went through a difficult patch at the start of 2016 where I was out of work so I used the time to practice shooting and developing my own style. During this time, after experimenting with different types of photography, I found that portraits and cityscapes were the things I had the most passion for. I found that I had to travel a lot for cityscapes, but I could take a portrait practically anywhere and that became such an endearing aspect of portrait photography to me.
In this mini-series we've featured here, light and darkness play a big role - tell us about your approach here?
The most common elements in my portraits are always simplicity, colour, light, and shadows. I am always searching for compositions with the least distraction, whilst finding elements to make my subject stand out. I find that some of the best ways for me to do this is through my use of light and shade, colour and lack of colour. Like symmetry, it draws the eye to the areas of the photo that I want to emphasise. I have always loved taking photos outdoors so tend to use natural light or other available outdoor light sources and a shallow depth of field to get nice separation between my subject and the background.
What makes a great portrait?
To be honest I don't think there is a specific formula to a 'great portrait.' I know there are things that I look for in a portrait, but I guess it is always subject to opinion. However if you get your lighting and shadows right, have some sort of tone and texture to the shot, a nice composition, and a strong focus on the subject, then I guess you are definitely on the right track!
Do you have a photographic philosophy?
I guess I have a few philosophies. 1) To have as little complications in my shots as possible, I don't want anything in the shot that will draw the attention from the subject. 2) Evoke some sort of emotion from the viewer, whether it be "That's a cool shot" or "She's beautiful" or "Ooo this is mysterious." ...And finally 3) HAVE FUN, do what you love and love what you do. If you're having fun and enjoying yourself doing something you love whilst growing and improving what more could you ask for.
Carl Jeffers was born and raised in the city of Preston, Lancashire and grew up with a passion for creativity. After studying graphic design from high school through to university he went on to become a freelance Graphic Designer for 5 years before going into employment in 2016. After buying his first camera at the start of 2015 and teaching himself via youtube videos and blogs, he practised his new found hobby at any available opportunity until he began to develop his own style. His love for portrait photography grew as he entered and won a few smaller scale photography contests and picked up portrait of the year at the 2016 Digital Splash Awards.