Cewe photoworld profesional interview / by Thomas Jamieson

  • Can you introduce and tell us a little about yourself?

Hi, My names Tom Jamieson and I’m the lead photographer at Thomas j. I’ve been in love with photography for around 10 years now and have always had an obsession with simple staring for ages at stunning images I use to find, mostly in what was then the Times Magazine pullout which I think I use to get after my Sunday shift working at a supermarket. I was given my first DSLR film camera at the age of 6 but I never used it. I just use to take it out of it’s old warn leather box and look at the shiny knobbly bits and make it click. Hours of fun for an only child!

  • How would you describe your photography? What does it mean to you?

Photography for me is about connecting with the people your working and shooting for. There are many different sides to photography once you put your eye into the viewfinder (old school) and have to think about all the other variables but if you haven’t listened to your client it created good energy before you start shooting the images are only going to be so so however good the lighting and everything else is, it’s not always easy but you always have to try your best and make sure the team has harmony. It does mean the world to me seeing and hearing that clients are happy with your work, whether it be the simplest of family shoots or a larger campaign, delivering images that bring a smile is a wonderful feeling. The other part that makes me tick is colours. I can obsess over the right or wrong colours for hours and also spend way to much time doing on them then I should with some terrible results in the earlier years. But like most things we have to learn and evolve hopefully.

  • Do you have a favourite moment or proudest experience in your photography career?

I think the proudest moment I’ve had so far came from my first gig at the Triumph factory in Hinkley. I’d never shot a studio style setup for a motorbike before, hell I’d never really shot a motorbike before apart from a few images of my Aprilia Futura RST (past tense). This was for the press release for MCN and promotion building up to Moto GP at Silverstone where they were going to reveal the there return to Moto GP action with the Triumph Moto2, the pressure was already on! I sought advice from an old family friend who happened to be one of the best automotive photographers out there for a little advice before the shoot. He told me the best thing possible to keep it simple, but I didn’t. So with 2 guys from the shop floor, 1 brand member of staff and a director we went to the other side of the factory to shoot the new bike. To cut a long story short, it worked. The idea of the shot, getting along with the people who had employed you and the final results, alas it had not been for a guy called Christos who had kept a vigil eye on my big parabolic hanging above the new prototype bike it might not have. The images have now had a certain amount of coverage worldwide and we carry on to work together on smaller projects that they need. Not quite big enough yet for the big shoots, but hopeful in years to come as the main goal will be to try and build my own large studio capable of shooting automotive.

  • How long have you been interested in photography? Was there any defining moment or experience that set it all off?

I’ve been interested in photography for around 15 years now. My first gateway moment apart from dads film DSLR was on a sailing trip around Scotland with a bunch of guys who had sailed together for many years, but with a few crew members dropping out they needed some fresh blood to crew with them so I was in. One gentleman called Pete who was x army and had served in the Falklands had a Nikon of some kind with a 70-200mm on it and I was captivated again like I was as a kid, and from then on wanted one. Not that it seemed very realistic after he told me how much it was! Then came the time my parent’s house got flooded around a year later. Around 600 CD’s I had in a binder had to be scrapped and chucked into the skip and with the resulting insurance vouchers, I bought my first DSLR, the mighty Sony A100 with a 16-55mm kit lens and the additional 70-300mm I bought with it too. I started shooting weddings with a large team mostly for Asian weddings for around £100 a day for 12 hours with the premise of being the free roamer creative photographer and I was a happy boy.

  • What are your inspirations?

My inspirations have always just come from loving to just look at things. Visually pleasing things in life have always made me very happy. There are many photographers who you admire at different points as you try to get a visual reference of what you are trying to achieve, but I think inspirations for me as I’m self-taught and have never had a team to bounce of have come from everyday moments. The first real inspiration came from my Nan when my Grandad passed and to see how much photos meant to her, I wanted to be able to give that to people. A great lesson a friend and Videographer told me when I was at my earlier learning stage was to use Instagram to post one photo a day from your phone to keep your eye in and your brain ticking along. It might not be any good now as our feeds have to be a little more professional, but at the time when I had another job and couldn’t shoot all the time, it was a great bit of advice.

  • Do you have a favourite story or experience you’d like to share that lead to a great photograph?

I wouldn’t say that this story leads to a great photograph or that it’s a great story, but it’s one that stays clear in my mind. I was travelling back from Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the rain was that torrential that my tut tut driver decided to stop under some cover, probably to keep me dry. Rain, when it’s intense, has always captivated me and this was intense rain. I was desperate to get an image but that much water and cameras don’t mix well, and there was also nothing really of visual interest to make the shot. Then came past this gentleman on his motorbike carrying his cargo and bingo I had my shot. So nothing special as I said, but a couple of lessons learnt. That is patience and waiting for those fleeting moments (FYI I’m not a great street photographer) and also that don’t be afraid to use your equipment. There more rugged than you think!

Cambodia rain
  • About your photo book: can you tell us why you chose to create a CEWE PHOTOBOOK

CEWE has given me the ability to give my clients value and quality at the same time. The money that is charged for wedding albums seems astronomical even though the number of hours it takes to design one. When printing of the images costs nearly a third of what it will cost my clients for me to take the images, it just has always unsettled me a little and made me almost apologise when offering clients a product that they have asked for. The alternative has never been an option as the quality was never there. Now I can provide both quality and affordability plus confidence when my clients ask me for wedding albums.

  • Do you have any advice or insight into your design choice for your photo book? Such as fonts, layout choices, cover choices etc.

The main thing I’d say when designing your photo book is don’t settle for the first option that you find. All of the page designs and layouts are of great quality and repeating the same pattern can make your viewer switch off, be bold and get creative with it. The software allows you to save all of your work at any point so don’t feel rushed if you haven’t got it the way you like it the first time. When thinking about your layout I would say there were 2 main things that you need to think about. First it’s a book and in essence, should be treated as a story so maybe think about having a start, middle and end in your imagery. Another thing would be to think about the colour tonnes your using on each page, try and keep them from the same family. Not a biggie but something to think about. the last thing I’d say, keep it interesting and change it up but try not to make it too busy, our heads can only take so much.

  • Are you happy with the quality of your book? Is there any aspect of your photo book that you’re particularly happy with?

I’m ever so happy with my orders so far and so are my clients to this date and will keep on making them with CEWE. The main thing that I’m always really pleased with is the quality of the paper in regards to printing. The ink doesn’t just sit on top of the paper, nor does the ink seem to soak into the paper, it just feels the correct quality and always sharp.

  • What’s next for you? Do you have any projects on the horizon that you’d like to talk about?

The main project for the year after my weddings will be a year-long fashion campaign for Corset story UK. We have a video team and models going to a variety of locations through out the UK along with our studio shoots. A good friend is finding the locations and putting the cloth concepts together and it’s a really fun project to be apart off, It’s great to be working with a team where we all get to bounce ideas off. We’ve done a couple already and I take the lead and it’s been working really well so far, good energy amongst us all and some great results. My personal project this year are going to be dedicated to machines and they’re owners, mostly automotive. I love motorbikes and have had one since I was 4 years old, it was a lethal 70cc trike (3 wheeler) and it was my life as a kid, that and the one arrow I had for my bow and arrow set I had. I have an upcoming shoot with ` guy called Rick English who is a stunt rider and has been part of Bond films, the Kingsman, ghost rider and plenty more. We met a couple of years ago when I did his portrait and we have a session booked in for the end of May start of June for me to join him at a location and get some cool images, stunt riding, the machine, prepping the bike (s) racing the full whack. I’ll also be going fairly big with a lighting setup so I really can’t wait to get stuck into it.

  • Is there anything else you’d like to say or cover in your feature?

The main thing I’d like to leave on is for any photographers who are hustling to make it pro (fancy word for full-time job). That is sometimes it takes blind faith and to keep plugging away. It’s taken 10 years of evening work and a separate full-time job to get to pro and I still have a long way to go yet, that’s an understatement. It is the same as any other job that you might be lucky enough to enjoy and get to do full time. Only 20-30% of it at best is doing what you love, the rest is full of learning many skills you might not have and doing admin jobs etc. Be prepared to enjoy the rest of the work to do the thing you love because one doesn’t come with the other.

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