Back in February Colin Millar, editor of the Heartland Buzz magazine interviewed me as part of a feature on my photography. Colin chose his favourite photos of mine to go alongside the 4 page article. Sometimes it's much easier when someone else chooses the photos! The magazine is only published in Highland Perthshire for local homes and businesses. So for those of you who don't live in that catchment area here's a transcript of the interview including the photos that were in the March edition.
Heartland Buzz March Edition
Rosie Nixon is a talented local fine art photographer who not only takes photos but grows them too. She’s also a keen gardener though she admits that she isn’t one of the tidiest. Her camera is never too far away; and she prefers to be observing and soaking up nature in her garden rather than working in it.
Photography for Rosie is a comforting release and escape from the stresses of life. She knows her local area intimately and has walked the same paths and trails for years. Infact she prefers to go out shooting alone. It’s in those tranquil moments that she has time to pause, reflect and create. She likes to surprise her audience with captures of the unseen or the often overlooked form, colour and beauty of her subjects. Equally she loves those spontaneous and unplanned moments. The times when she doesn’t focus on the obvious alone.
Rosie intuitively knows just when she’s made that vital connection with her subject. There’s that rush of adrenalin and she becomes totally absorbed in the creating process. She’s recently come to realise that most of her best shots have always been taken when she’s been happily lost in those times of solitude.
Rosie, what are your favourite subjects to photograph?
I mostly shoot flowers; in a unique and visual way that draws you in and holds your attention. I try to combine their beauty and sensuality along with a sense of mystery and exploration. Consequently I use shallow depths of field with my macro lens or lensbaby kit. There’s always an element of sharpness around a stamen, petal or insect. While the rest of the image gradually blends into a soft and dreamy blur.
How do you take your ladybird images?
I hand hold the camera when taking my ladybird images. Over the years I’ve developed a refined muscle control with my posture; I can accurately judge and place the minute focusing distances needed while using shallow depths of field with my macro lens. I spend hours in the garden just shooting ladybirds. It can be very tiring work but the results are ultimately very rewarding.
How did you get into photography?
I’ve always been interested in photography. I’ve so many memories of looking through old family albums with my grandparents and hearing the stories behind the photos. My parents carried on that family album tradition and we were always getting photos taken. Learning about the pinhole camera was probably the only topic I ever enjoyed in my physics O level class.
I started taking portraits of my family in my grandfather’s garden when I was a teenager. Later my own garden became the backdrop for the photos of my kids. My preferred camera was an old Voigtlander rangefinder and I very rarely photographed a flower on its own. Usually the kids had to pose beside the flowers. When digital came along all that changed and I had the freedom to click the shutter as much as I wanted.
Have you always been creative?
I’ve always been creative; it’s in my genes. When I was younger if there wasn’t a pencil or a crayon in my hand I would be knitting, sewing or crocheting just like my mum. Nowadays I paint with pixels …while my mum paints with oils and acrylics.
Your style is so unique, where do you get your inspiration from?
My inspiration mostly comes from nature; the beauty of creation and the opportunities each new day brings. My grandfather was a gardener and a great influence in my life. So it was a very natural thing for flowers and gardens to become such an inspiration in my own life. Even though other’s tell me that I have a unique style other artists and photographers have inspired me too over the years. The most notable being the late American artist:Georgia O’Keeffe and her floral paintings; Kathleen Clemons with her macro and lensbaby work; and Pep Ventosa with his unique style of impressionist photography.
What do you love about Perthshire?
There’s so much to photograph! Whether it’s along a village street with its quirky doorways and windows. Or admiring the hills at sunset. Then there are the woodland trails, the lochs and river banks. All with their rich diversity of wildflowers and wildlife.
The inspiration is just endless.
What are your favourite spots in Perthshire for photography?
I enjoy strolling along the River Almond and River Tay. February is the time for the snowdrops to start flowering in the river silt. In April and May there are the drifts of wood anemones, bluebells and wild garlic. Then all summer there is a rich array of colourful wild flowers which encourage so many butterflies and bees into the area. While in October it’s watching the ever changing hues of autumn colour and the salmon leaping as they travel back to their spawning sites.
I enjoy visiting Branklyn Garden in Perth. There I can spend hours throughout the seasons discovering new flowers. Plus enjoying others that I don’t have room to grow in my own garden.
What other things keep you busy?
Besides family, work commitments and trying to keep an active presence on social media I’m always exploring new possibilities with my photography. I like to keep it fresh and interesting.
For the past year I’ve been creating impressionist photography using various intentional camera movement techniques and creating multiple exposure montages. The unpredictability of the whole process means that I just never know what will show up. Out of maybe 100 shots only one or two will become keepers. Later this year I’ll be helping to mentor photography students online for 9 weeks on this artistic style of photography.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
Invest in good glass from the outset. Scottish light is poor during the winter months. Lenses with the capability of shooting at wide apertures in low light conditions are really worth saving up for.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to getting into photography?
I’d recommend learning how to shoot in manual mode rather than letting your camera stay in an automatic setting. There are so many free online resources today to help you to master those technical skills.
The best gear isn’t everything: you need to discover your vision and follow it. My own images show that you don’t need to go to fancy locations. You can turn simple things into a masterpiece.