Tuesday, 21 June 2011


This weeks market will be showcasing a whole new fresh bunch of artists and designers in Newcastle as well as some of our old time favourites. One being Charles Twist Photography, showing off his camera skills and selling his beautiful nature and landscape prints. We catch up with Charles with an insighful and inspiring interview into his world!

For more info on Charles and his work go to: www.citiesandparks.com 
Charles is also currently organising a Festival of Victorian Photography: www.citiesandparks.com/Festival
and also helping to promote a new e-commerce site:

How would you describe your style?
A balancing act between presentation and representation. I look for fascinating subjects but I also seek to catch the eye with bold colours and forms. It’s not just a question of recreating what exists in the big, wide world. I must add to it to create something new and fascinating in its own right.

A balancing act between the different elements of the picture. I try to make the composition as clear as possible. When looking for a picture, I deliberately look for what attracts me in an almost naïve fashion. Then the technician in me takes over and pares the view down to the essentials, creates links between different parts of the composition.

Do you have a favourite subject?
Favourites come and go. If you look at my printed work, you’ll see a lot of local landscapes in glorious colour. They’re typically more than a year old. The colour and the variety of Nature really turned me on. Although I am still drawn to these scenes, I am less bewitched because I have grown out of that phase of exploration. I’ll no doubt come back to it with fresh ideas, a fresh take. I think it’s important not to be bored or jaded, as that really comes through in a picture.

In the last year, I have worked a lot more in towns and cities, exploring architecture: its forms and colours, its meaning to the residents and visitors. That is my current favourite.

Do you take photographs in pleasure time and how are those shots different to your more commercial work?
There I was thinking I was meant to suffer for my art. ;-) Photographers commonly complain about the lack of time to develop their personal work and I am no different. At best, I manage an outing or two every month. It’s important to be experimental as it provides new insights and/or new methods. At the moment, I am spending a lot of time ‘playing’ with Victorian lenses.

I am not sure that my prints and cards of local scenes are truly ‘commercial’. When I take pictures for a commission, I must pander to my client’s tastes. With my prints however, I take pictures because something about the view has caught my eye. I have a lot of say in the end result. I think the main constraint imposed by commerce is in the choice of subjects, since pictures of icons (Roseberry Topping, Tyne Bridge) sell better. My more personal work is less concerned with how recognisable the location is and more concerned with aesthetics and philosophy, with the vocabulary and grammar of the method and the subject.

If your work could be featured in any magazine or publication which one would it be and why?
I would love for my work to gain broader recognition, to be recognised by my peers. It would be nice to get my work in to one of the more arty magazines. For that though, I would need to spend more time producing the right kind of work. I think I need a patron.

How long have you been running your business for? Has it been hard getting into self employment as a freelance photographer?
My photography business has been running for over two years now. At the outset, I chose to sell prints and cards because I had an extensive collection of pictures from the Teesside/ Cleveland area. So it was actually quite easy to get started. The main difficulty was cash-flow, as this type of business has a high turnover and low margins. There is a lot of investment to get the prints and cards in to the market.

The other aspect of the business is commissioned work. I take pictures of events, of people at work & play, of buildings (interiors and exteriors), of products. This relies heavily on having contacts and building a reputation, which is a slow and at times disheartening process. Once the initial inertia is overcome, it’s personally very rewarding though.

How do you go about getting your name out there for work?
There isn’t a silver bullet. It’s a matter of continuously pushing my work in to the public arena, by finding new galleries and taking part in markets. There is a lot of cold-calling and –stepping. Quality matters obviously, as does reliability. It’s good to be known for a type of work and a style. Press releases and online media help to create a buzz but selling is mainly about meeting people.

What do you like most about your job?
The variety. It is tremendous: this week, I am advertising the upcoming Festival of Victorian Photography which I am organising as part of Saltburn’s 150th birthday celebrations, I am answering interviews (including this one!), today I am shooting the interior of a bed & breakfast and tomorrow some jewellery for a local artist. Oh and I am developing my business contacts for my photography of science and technology.

Do you have any favourite photographers, anyone who continually inspires your work?
Not really. It’s more individual pictures or styles which I find interesting. They challenge me and force me out of my comfort zone. It’s also a way of learning: how did he do that? Having said that, there are photographers who continually produce interesting work, like Jon Brock and Richard Childs in the realm of landscape photography. I don’t think they inform my work so much as feed my passion for photography.

Do you have any words of advice for budding fellow photographers?
Fundamentally, it’s a matter of listening to the client – whether that’s a third party or yourself.

For personal work, never lose your inner voice, your childish fascination with the world. Listening to others is good for hints and tips, but pointless for direction: that has to come from within.

For commercial work, don’t give up. If it isn’t selling, ask yourself why not. It may be you’re not selling the right product to the right public or at the right price. Don’t be afraid to alter one of those and keep on trying until you find a niche.


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