Featured on theprintspace blog today is photographer and client Tommy Reynolds, whose fantastic documentary work in Sri Lanka is exhibiting next week!
First of all, please introduce yourself!
My name is Tommy Reynolds and I’m a portrait and commercial photographer born and raised in Kent.
Tell us your story.
I first got into photography when I took a GCSE in the subject thinking “Ah, that looks interesting”. I loved taking photos anyway so I thought it would be great to learn more. As it turns out, I ended up hating the subject because of the way it was taught. It was taught from a very contemporary/fine art approach which I wasn’t interested in at the time… I wanted to know how to use the damn thing in manual mode, which I was never taught. After GCSE I decided to buy my first DSLR with a friend who bought the same one as me. We both went to the zoo quite often and forced ourselves to stay in manual mode and learn how to use all the functions. If the image came out dark, I would keep changing the settings till I got a decent exposure then made a mental note of that. YouTube was a big help too!
From there, I set up my own Facebook page and started shooting local bands, and became known as the local ‘band photographer’. It was also a great confidence booster because now I had an excuse hanging from my neck to approach someone and introduce myself and offer my services for their band. I still enjoy photographing live concerts, but prefer shooting bands portraits now. Growing up was a lot of fun working with local bands and formed the foundation of a local following.
What was the concept and inspiration behind the work, and how did the project come about?
Every year I go to Sri Lanka with a charity called ‘Take Heart Mercy Mission’ whom visit Galle every year to perform heart surgery for free on young children at the Karapitiya hospital. The charity consists of approximately 15 doctors, surgeons and nurses from the Evalina Children’s Hospital in London whom give up their own holiday to make the trip once a year.
My job is to photograph and document the journey. 3 years on since I joined the charity, I am hosting a photography exhibition of all the images I have taken in the hospital and around the town, which is happening on March 24th.
This will showcase the work that we do and the culture of the country. It’s only now that I feel I have a body of work that I’m proud to make a debut exhibition
. My inspiration for the style of the images is from one of my favourite photographers called Joey Lawrence (Joey L) who also photographs portraits of people in third world countries. When I first saw his work, I thought they were so thought-provoking that I wanted to make my own interpretation of that style in Sri Lanka with the locals. I wanted to capture them in their natural environment but finesse slightly to look less ‘photo journalistic’… some are more posed than others.
What inspires you?
Lots of people inspire me! People who are highly motivated inspire me. I also keep a blog and a Youtube channel. I enjoy teaching to admire photographers at the top of their game that still take the time out to make tutorial videos on youtube. Those photographers are Joey L, Joel Grimes, Karl Taylor, Chase Jarvis and Jeremy Cowart. Jeremy Cowart was voted most influential photographer on the planet and it’s so true. He’s one of my biggest inspirations to try new things and not be afraid to do them. Sometimes it’s daunting to try something new on a client in case it sucks and you look bad. So I now do one personal project a month which give me a great opportunity to try new things to use with paying clients. Jeremy is always always thinking outside the box and I admire him so much for it. Austin Kleon, writer of ‘Steal Like An Artist’ and ‘Show Your Work’ is also a recent discovery for me. I love the way he writes it how it is, and helps unlock your brain into getting inspiration and discovering your style.
What paper type did you print your exhibition on, and why?
I decided to print my images on Fuji Crystal Archive Matt. I tested on the C-Type Kodak Metallic also, as I use thought it looked really cool and unique, but it just didn’t look right with my images. The photographs are all of Sri Lanka and I believe are very organic and real. So I didn’t want any shine, gloss or anything to help make the image pop, if that makes sense. I wanted the images to be plain matt and as organic as possible, and the Fuji Matt worked best. When you see it, you just know what works. It’s a subconscious thing.
What’s your next step? Have you got any new projects on the horizon?
A week after my exhibition, I am flying to Varanasi in India to continue my photography series. I’ve been to Sri Lanka three times now, but I have never been to India. I want the same theme but in a different country now. I’m hoping to have another exhibition showcasing my work from the trip but I’ll decide that when I have the images in front of me. I may decide to re-visit the city a couple more times before exhibiting like I have done with Sri Lanka. I’m so excited to continue photographing portraits of people from third world countries and learn their stories.
Tommy’s upcoming exhibition is at Nucleus Arts Centre, Chatham and the opening night is Thursday 24th March from 6pm till 8pm. The exhibition will remain open for a further 2 weeks.