Filmatography's specialist architecture & interiors photographer for the Middle East, Marcus, talks to us about the inspiration behind his internationally award-winning work and shares an insight into his fascinating career.
What first sparked your interest in photography?
I was seven when I first met my friend’s mother, Heather Angel, a highly respected wildlife photographer. Each time I would visit her house, there would be prints of Heather’s photographs on the walls; and if my timing was right, I would catch a new collection of slides on the lightbox. It seemed very magical and other-worldly. I was totally entranced by it all. This was followed by my dad's photographs of architecture. His graphic style and bias towards all things geometric instilled my interest in architectural photography.
What was your first job in the field?
I had posted my first ever batch of promotional photo cards to London-based architects, including Marcus Beale of Marcus Beale Architects. During my follow-up call, he mentioned a project which needed documenting and was willing to try me out. His willing was partly based on the similarity of our names! It was an urban design project – a public garden, called Christ Church Gardens, based in London. He was interested in showing how the public interacted with the space, as well as the design itself. I decided to capture it from a visitor’s viewpoint to give the reader a better understanding of the experience. I also captured it from above, using a nearby rooftop, to clearly see the layout of the design in relation to the environment. I’ve been photographing for Marcus ever since.
How would you personally describe your photography style?
Experiential, immersive and analytical; with a bias towards geometry and abstraction.
What type of camera/equipment do you use?
I shoot on the 5DS, Canon's highest resolution DSLR, which offers astounding detail and the ability to crop in order to achieve my pre-visualisation without compromising quality. Lenses include the Canon tilt and shift range: 17mm, 24mm, 45mm and 90mm, to reproduce perfect parallelism. I almost always photograph off my Gitzo tripod and Manfrotto geared head. I prefer to work with ambient light so rarely use location lights. On occasion, I will tether to a laptop when an image needs to be scrutinised or when it’s preferred by my client.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you began taking photographs, or what piece of advice would you give to a beginner?
Always continue with your personal work. This will encourage and retain your authentic voice and, in turn, promote your preferred path to the commercial world.
Tell us about some of the awards you have achieved - which is the most special to you and why?
Winning an AOP (Association of Photographers) award in 2015 has meant the most to me. The AOP Awards is regarded as one of the most respected in the industry and, for this reason, I felt very honoured that my work was selected, winning the Commissioned Design Single category.
What do you look for in a great composition?
The true story in a perfect frame.
What is your favourite picture you have ever taken - why?
A triptych of the Royal Albert Hall commissioned by architect Peter Sheehan. I was given a carte blanche to produce fine art photographs for the walls of an apartment where its balconies offered the perfect view of this iconic concert hall of London; and in turn the perfect subject matter for my photographs.
Which photographers influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photography and career path?
There are so many! And they continue to influence and inspire me. Robin Dance, lens-based artist and tutor at The Surrey Institute of Art and Design, introduced me to the conceptual photograph and how metaphor can play a powerful role in storytelling. Heather Angel, wildlife photographer, made me appreciate the value of patience for that ‘decisive moment’. Tim Flach, commercial and fine art animal photographer, taught me the art of cropping a photograph to its full potential. If it’s not direct contact with photographers then the other means of influence and inspiration has been through photography books that I love to collect: Ansel Adams, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Helen Binet, Andreas Gursky, Nadav Kander, Simon Norfolk, Sebastiao Salgado and Hiroshi Sugimoto, to name but a few.
What motivates you to continue taking pictures economically, politically, intellectually or emotionally?
My sheer passion for photography is the ultimate motivator. Additionally, the honour of being given the responsibility to contribute towards the legacy of my clients’ work.
What do you think will be the future of photography in the next 20 years?
I think there will be a significant advancement in automation. The camera will be able to achieve so much more towards the final result. Moreover, the dynamic range of a sensor will draw closer to what the human eye can see.