Hi Paul! Tell us about yourself in two sentences - who are you?
I've spent a big chunk of my life tied to the computer writing code, so getting out and about as a photographer is the perfect way to balance that out. I love being on top of a mountain with my camera gear at some crazy time of day, knowing there's no-one else up there (besides my wife, my two Beagles, and in Scotland right now, probably a few million midges).
QWhat's the weirdest situation you've found yourself in while taking a photograph?
AQuite recently I was heading out to take some shots of a fighter at a hardcore MMA club in a tough old Scottish town. Just before I got of the door, my wife said "Remember, the guy you're shooting is a lot younger than you are and probably has some different ideas about what will look cool for the camera. I mean, don't be surprised if he turns up in pink shorts or something!" She was joking about the shorts of course. When I got there, the club absolutely fit its no-nonsense reputation. The entrance was down an unlit, decrepit alleyway, hard rock was playing through a ghetto blaster in the dimly lit training hall, and the fighters were just pairing up and getting straight down to training without any of the ritual and formality found in traditional martial arts. You could almost smell the testosterone, or maybe it was the sweaty armpits. But anyway, just as I'd got my gear unpacked, my subject for the evening strolled confidently out of the changing room, ready for battle and wearing bright pink shorts..
QWhat do you shoot on? What's your favourite set up?
AMy favourite body is my Canon 5DIII; it's a great all-rounder that can cope with just about anything. Lens-wise, I really love shooting with my old Sigma 50mm EX (pre-"Art") - it's got a lot of character - but for practical reasons I very often end up shooting with zooms. Probably the bulk of my landscapes have been taken with my Canon 17-40. Stop it down to f11 and it's pretty sharp across the frame, while still being surprisingly light and compact. Wish I could say the same about my tripod; I'll have to try carbon fibre one of these days!
QWhat's your number one tip for an aspiring photographer?
AAlways do your homework (as in research, planning etc) before you set out for the shoot, but when you get there don't be wearing blinkers, because you could easily miss something you haven't planned for.