Through the lens with Chester photographer Jonathan Thompson
PUBLISHED: 17:54 08 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:50 20 February 2013
Cheshire-born Jonathan Thompson is a photographer who can't take his lens off Chester<br/>WORDS BY ELIZABETH SHORT PHOTOGRAPHY BY JONATHAN THOMPSON
Top tips for budding photographers
1) Jonathan uses a Canon 1ds mark III, and specifies Nikon and Canon as his favourite equipment brands. He recommends that when starting out: Dont spend a lot, buy a digital SLR, buy what you can afford. Learn how to use every aspect of it, you will be able to use it to its full potential. You could spend 35,000 on a camera and still wont be able to take a good picture.
2) Start with natural light and learn how it works, the technical liminal language is something often referred to between photographers.
3) If you want to improve, shoot every day. Look for things you would photograph, even if you dont have your camera with you. Most importantly, dont give up the day job when youre just starting out.
The print version of this article appeared in the August 2011 issue of Cheshire Life
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After living in Canada for 10 years, Jonathan Thompson recently returned to his original abode of Chester, and finds that he just loves to take photographs of the place.
Jonathan says its an ideal location to take photos. There is a contrast in Chester. There are modern buildings next to 300-year-old buildings, next to a 2000-year-old wall. It makes it very interesting. As a photographer I like to think, how many Roman soldiers were here? Who would have stood there? It is inspiring.
He revelled in how its small size and versatility make it an enviable location to take pictures. Chester is a versatile place, you can take a small part of it and open it up. It is only a small city but you can cover a lot. You can go from the main city part with the shops to the more pastoral parts in ten minutes. And if you have local models, you dont have to travel far to meet up with them, which is simply not the case in big cities like London. Jonathan recently staged a photo-shoot next to the River Dee with a local model, Nicolette Whitley.
Jonathan, aged 40, first picked up a camera at the age of seven. He deems taking panorama pictures of a rockets ship, as a child on holiday in Florida, as his moment of inspiration. He likes to take a personal approach and typically likes to meet up with his subjects, if he is taking portrait pictures, sometimes two or three times beforehand. He believes that the subject- photographer relationship is vital in making the subject feel comfortable, and essential to taking a good photograph.
Whether its playing music that makes them feel good, having friends there, or telling a childhood story, it is important to take a personal approach.
When it comes to deciding what time of day to take images, he likes the golden hours, which is just before sunrise, when there is a warm orangey red in the sky. However photographing at a specific time of day isnt always essential, he says.: If there isnt sunshine a good photographer will bring it with him.
When it comes to taking pictures of people, the attitude of the subject can change depending upon the country youre in. In Italy, if approached on the street for a picture, people will pose. In New York they are more defensive, and in Britain they find it bizarre that you would want to take their picture, he said.
On the subject of editing, he says he likes to keep the manipulation of photos to a minimum. I like to enhance photos, but keep it natural looking. A photo taken with high quality equipment, blown up, will make imperfections more noticeable, even more so than real life as it is a still image. However, he does not spend seven hours retouching every pore of skin to transform a person into someone else, as often seen these days in airbrushed photos of celebrities.