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Instagram Weekly Guest #015

sam_hdsn

Enjoy yourself! Photography should be something you love, not a chore. As soon as you see the process of sharing and taking photos as a requirement then the sooner you will lose interest. You are taking photos for yourself, nobody else.

The town of Knaresborough with its cobbled, secret passageways is a town where a young talent, Sam Hudson makes the picturesque landscape of his town the predominant object of his creative photography on Instagram. His gallery, @sam_hdsn, celebrates everything scenic and aesthetic, taking us to breathtaking countryside views.

This week Journesia talks with Sam about Instagram and his affinity with nature.

Tell us about yourself, where you grew up and what do you do?

My name is Sam, I’m British and 20 years old. I live in a small town called Knaresborough, which is near Leeds in the North of England. At the moment I’m at university studying French and Italian, and next year I will be taking a year abroad as part of my degree.

What kind of photography that you do?

The majority of my shots could probably be described as landscapes, and a scroll through my feed would probably showcase my affinity with nature. As I live in the countryside, nature shots are what I’m accustomed to taking, as nature is what I see everyday.

Since when you’re starting to derive an interest in photography? What was the first photo you took?

I only started my interest in photography when my brother told me to download Instagram when I got my first iPhone a few years ago. The first pictures I took were all absolutely dreadful, but it gave me a buzz to try and improve.

How did you learn about Instagram?

As I said, it was my brother who told me to download Instagram. I first thought it was just an app to post pictures of your night out or your Starbucks coffee, but luckily I found some great photographers to emulate and take inspiration from right at the start!

How did you find your inspiration?

I was first inspired by @wisslaren, who was one of the first accounts I followed and showed me the possibilities of photography through Instagram. I think my second inspiration was @fraziphone, who posted similar photos to me of the English countryside. When he became a Suggested User it was the first time I’d heard the phrase and what happened when a user became Suggested, and from that point on it became my goal to join Fraser and all my other friends on Instagram who became Suggested Users.

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What kind of camera do you use?

I take every single one of my photos with an iPhone. At the moment I’m using the iPhone 6, which, in my opinion, is a fantastic camera. The iPhone’s camera improves markedly with every new release, and for me it’s getting to a point where photos taken on a phone are hardly distinguishable from a camera. However, I do believe that in the future I will upgrade to a DSLR in order to broaden my experience.

How do you define your style of photography?

I would say my photography is defined by its natural aesthetic. As all my photos are of nature, I have to be careful to edit them in such a way so as to keep the natural setting, but highlight or enhance certain parts of the image.


My photos mean a lot to me because they show my progression as a photographer, and also showcase all the places I have been. I really enjoy taking photos as it gives me some time alone and to reflect, and seeing my photos on Instagram replays these moments of solitude for me, and provides great memories.


Give us 3 things you’ve learned since you join Instagram?

Hmmm that’s a tricky one! In regards to Instagram itself, I would say I’ve obviously learned key elements of photography and the limits that my phone has, and also how best to approach my editing style in order to keep my shots looking as natural as possible. More broadly, I would say that through my Instagram experience I have learned that it costs nothing to congratulate people on their work, and that your noticing of someone’s improvement, whether it be in their photos or in life generally, can really have a strong effect in their own personal confidence, and help them to improve even more.

You have numbers of valuable followers on Instagram. Does Instagram open you a wider opportunity to channeling your creative work?

I have only just started to notice the affect that my number of followers is having on my life, as now it seems everywhere I go people have heard of my success on Instagram, whereas only a few months ago no-one knew of my work. Without trying to be cynical, I’ve found that just because I have a large number of followers people seem to take more notice of me. But the benefits are great; having such a wide scope on Instagram has allowed me to follow some really interesting opportunities, from selling t-shirts to being hired as a photographer, and taking part in interviews. I’ve also found that having such a large base of followers always me to be more creative, as I get much more feedback on what people really like, and what I need to improve upon.

Do you think creativity matters and why?

Of course! Creativity is what pushes us all forwards as a collective, and that is no different to Instagram. My most successful shots are ones that I have pushed myself in order to create them, going out of my comfort zone.

Can you give us tips for grabbing the perfect shots?

Well, I wouldn’t want to give all my secrets away… In terms of what I deem to be the ‘perfect’ shot to match the natural theme of my feed, there are a few things I look for. First of all, I love shooting in the golden hour, as this elongates shadows and adds a ‘golden’ tinge to the all the warm colours it creates. Secondly, I always try to add some depth to my photos, whether that be through having an object in the foreground to show scale, or leading lines to create depth. Your photo really needs to come alive, and this can’t be achieved in my opinion without the addition of something interesting to the backdrop of a landscape shot. But taking the photo itself is just the first step! I really believe that editing is the most important step of the process, as it can make a good shot great, a great shot excellent, but when done wrong can ruin a good photo. I always put a VSCOcam filter on my photos, and I think my favourite at the moment is C3 as it brings out the colour that I want to express. Then, contrast, saturation and brightness should be adjusted, but not radically as this can make your photo look ‘fake’ and ruin the experience you are trying to convey. All in all, I think it’s imperative to find an editing stye that you can rely on, and gives you the best results.

You are a great fan of nature as it’s dominating your feed and trees has been one of your constant object of your photography. What’s the most challenging part in landscape photography? Any memorable story during the photo shoot?

The most challenging part of landscape photography is finding something that is going to differentiate your photos from the millions of other landscape shots that exist on Instagram. Whether this is through dynamic weather, a subject such as a wild animal, or something strange like an out of place sign, you must give a personality to your nature shots. I’m always striving to find something that will do this for my photos, as you want to create a feeling in whoever views your shots. A simple landscape can be beautiful, but 5 landscapes in a row can be boring.

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What application do you use to edit your photo? Do you always try to maintain your tone on your feed? If yes, why is it important?

I have a very rigid editing process that I stick to 99% of the time. To start with, I process my shot with VSCOcam. I first put on a filter, usually A6, C3, G1 or M5, and then adjust incrementally settings such as exposure, contrast and saturation, until I’m happy that the colours or shadows that I wanted to appear have come out nicely. I then do a further edit on Snapseed, to brighten my image, and also sharpen it and add structure. Before posting it to Instagram, I use Instagram’s in-app tools, using the LUX setting and adjusting the highlights. I feel that this process helps to give my feed consistency. I would also say that I am my own harshest critic; I will delete any photo on my feed, regardless of it’s ‘success’ in relation to likes and comments, if I feel it doesn’t match the tone of my feed. Visitors to your feed see your last 9 photos first, so it’s important that you can present the tone and feel of your feed in this first introduction.


 I think creativity is more important than technical skill. I feel that technical skill comes easily with practice, whereas creativity is what separates good photographers from great photographers, as the creatives can separate themselves and show a uniqueness that will inspire others.


Do you have any advice to say to starting photographers out there?

My advice to anyone starting photography, whether it be on Instagram or generally, is that your first 10,000 photos are your worst. My own experience has been that I have improved with every photo I have taken and posted on Instagram, and this improvement only happens when you can recognise your mistakes and address them. There has been many times where I have found myself in a rut, not going anywhere with my work on Instagram. It was imperative to me to address this failure and go out and take better quality photos that I had ever taken, stretching my boundaries. In regards to improvement through Instagram, my advice to anyone new to the platform is to be active; whether that be through liking other people’s photos, commenting on those you really like to show your appreciation, following users with photos you like, or generally playing an active role in other users’ experience. It is through this that you will come into contact with other photographers like you who only want to improve, and this will provide your inspiration.

Any parting words?

Enjoy yourself! Photography should be something you love, not a chore. As soon as you see the process of sharing and taking photos as a requirement then the sooner you will lose interest. You are taking photos for yourself, nobody else.

 

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