It's time to highlight our second inspiring photographer. I chose the photographers in this series because they are "relatable". They may be moms, they may have been surprised by photography, they may have moved to new places and had to start over. They have lessons to share with us...and they're all good (the lessons and the photographers)!
This interview was first published in the "PhotoStories of the Heart" eCourse.
Introducing Janet Broughton
When I asked Janet what would she like to be known for, she answered, "This is such a tricky question to answer and I suspect that if you asked me every few months I would give a different answer each time! After a lot of thought I've condensed this down to three things:"
1 - "I would like to be known for inspiring people to see the world around them differently through the medium of photography."
2 - "I would like to be known as a photographer who creates images that in some way produce an emotive response in people."
3 - "I would like to be known as a photographer who produced images that told stories of things that might otherwise be ignored."
How did you develop as a photographer?
I stumbled into photography as a hobby in my early forties after a series of co-incidental happenings resulted in an unplanned purchase of a digital compact camera. It was around 18 months later when I was standing in a gallery (more of a tourist shop really, not an art gallery!) looking at some photos for sale and I was struck that the main thing that set them apart from anything I would take was that either the subjects or the viewpoints weren't the obvious ones that a non-photographer would take. Obviously the reality was that there was a LOT more than this that separated my images from those on sale but it was a thought process that triggered me to go out and capture whatever caught my eye but with the hope of doing it in a less obvious way.
As I started to take more pictures I became more aware of my short comings and more determined to learn, I used books and magazines as well as forums and eventually enrolled on a course called "The Art Of Photography", a distance learning course with The Open College of the Arts here in the UK. One of the modules involved candid photos of people involved in some sort of event and it filled me with dread, I had absolutely no interest in photographing people, and the idea of doing so candidly was extra terrifying! So I put off doing the exercise for as long as I possibly could and when I couldn't delay it any longer I took myself off to a local steam railway know that I would be mistaken for a train spotter and wouldn't attract attention! It's hard to describe how I felt as I left the station to go back to the car, I'd dreaded this for so long but loved it so much when I did it. I literally felt like I was walking on air!
That experience totally changed my direction photographically and was the catalyst for a lot of life changes. I when on to do some studies in portraiture and documentary photography and eventually launched my own business as a portrait photographer in 2012.
I'm still constantly developing as a photographer, although not through formal learning any more. I now develop through accepting new opportunities and through self directed projects. I now enjoy food and lifestyle product photography alongside environmental portraiture.
Do you have a philosophy of photography/art? How does that influence your photos?
I'm not sure that I have a philosophy as such, I'm a believer that technical perfection is overrated, although I also believe that we need the knowledge and capability to achieve technically perfect images before we can intentionally create imperfect images. I'm generally looking for connections and emotions in my work, so that might be a connection between subjects or it might be an emotional response in the viewer.
Has photography opened you to new/different adventures?
It sounds like a cliché but photography literally changed my life! I used to be a Financial Controller and have had various accounting related jobs but I always said I felt like I was meant to be doing something else. If I hadn't discovered photography I would never have started my own business; self employment had never been something I'd even considered. I have lots of friends that I've met through photography and would never have known otherwise and through my 50 Portraits project I've met some really fascinating people. I've won awards, I've been featured in newspapers and magazines and I've even been on BBC local radio, something that before I discovered photography I wouldn't have had the confidence to do.
What makes you “feel” a photograph? How so you translate that “feel” into the picture?
Now this is a really difficult one for me to answer. When I'm shooting for portrait clients they tend to tell me a lot about themselves, I get to know them really well in a short space of time and inevitably I feel a connection to them and I understand their family relationship or the background to their relationship with their horse. Knowing their story helps me sense those moments that will mean something to my client. It's much harder for me to explain how I "feel" a photograph when I'm shooting for myself. I would love to be able to develop an understanding that I could communicate to others but all I can say really is that there is a certain moment where everything just feels right, its like a deep knowing that its a moment where everything is in harmony.
Re: your favorite photos…what makes them special to you?
I find it almost impossible to choose favorite photo's so I've tried to choose three that I find memorable, all three are the sorts of images where you just know deep inside of you as you take them that you've captured that you will always remember. They are the ones that give you that immense feeling of satisfaction before you even see what you've captured, I always feel that images like this have been shot from the heart rather than the head.
Why has your photography taught you about yourself? and the world around you?
That I'm actually a creative person! I'd gone all through my life being good at maths and sciences and believing I hadn't a creative bone in my body, that belief was shattered although it was a slow transition and not always easy. About the world? Photography has taught me that there is beauty everywhere, you just need to open your eyes to it.
Are you involved in any projects? What do you hope to get from the projects?
I love to have projects on the go! I have one major project, Fifty Portraits, where I aim to meet and photograph (with a 50mm lens) fifty people who turned a hobby into a business. I haven't worked on this for quite a while but I like to just come back to it whenever the mood takes me, it has a website of its own www.fiftyportraits.co.uk . What do I hope to get from it? The main reason for starting it was to force me to shoot in all sorts of different conditions and to give me a reason to shoot if I wasn't busy with client work, in reality I've got far more pleasure out of it than I expected. I never realized that there were so many interesting people doing so many amazing things!
I also have a couple of other ongoing projects that I share on Definitely Dreaming. One is "Past It's Best", a food photography project where I buy food going out of date in the supermarket and create beautiful food portraits and the other is "52 Weeks Of Quiet" a project to create a weekly image that portrays a sense of quiet. Both of these I do as a personal creative challenge, to stretch and develop my skills and to keep me thinking creatively.
Janet's Website: http://definitelydreaming.com
Janet's Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jbroughtonphotography/
Her Instagram: @definitely_dreaming
Back to me
The longer I practice photography, and the more photographers I meet and interview, the deeper is my understanding about the power of creativity...in this case...photography.
Photography can change your life in unexpected ways. And just as in any other venture, we must keep our eyes open to options. We must be willing to hold an open mind - we must not let fear shut down possibility. We must change our thoughts about how our lives can change, how our lives can bring joy, how our lives can be as brilliant and ear pounding celebration as 4th of July fireworks. (yeah...that!)
There are far more sources of inspiration than we can imagine! We just have to be open to the possibilities....
Expect the best. Anything else is an adventure.
You probably know someone who could use a little inspiration. Help them out - send 'em this blog post! Your comments are always welcome in the section below, or over on the Facebook page.
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