Interview with a photographer featuring Mark Harris

Interview with a photographer featuring Mark Harris

Cotton Carrier: Where do you call home?
Mark Harris: I live on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, Scotland. It truly is one of the most scenic countries and I am proud to call it home. The photo opportunities here range from some of the finest landscapes and wildlife, to the dancing Northern Lights during the winter season.
CC: How long have you taken photographs for unprofessionally and professionally?
MH: I got my 1st DSLR camera in 2014. I got into photography through Instagram and posting iPhone images on there, it has been my main hobby ever since and I would call myself a very keen enthusiast.
CC: How would you define your style as a photographer?
MH: One look at my instagram page and I would say it will be apparent I have no style or genre. I am passionate about everything photography and continue to experiment with a vast array of genres and subjects. I shoot anything from landscapes, wildlife, portraits to sill life and architecture. I am currently experimenting with ICM (intentional camera movement) and I find this a fascinating style that allows for lots of creativity.
CC:Have you ever gone to photography school?
MH: In short, no. Self taught and a disciple of YouTube.

CC: Where is your favorite place or thing to shoot?
MH: At the moment I would have to say the Puffins on the Isle of May. It's a wee island in the Firth of Forth 8 miles off the Scottish East Coast. Its a very small isle and is home to a huge array of seabirds and seals. At the right time of year you can photograph the Puffins in flight with beaks full of sandeels. They are very fast and it takes quite bit of skill to get 'the' image.

My image of a Puffin in flight on the Isle of May

CC: What Camera(s) / Lenses do you use?
MH: Nikon D750 with 24-120mm kit lens. For wildlife I use the Sigma 150-600, and for portraits a Sigma 85mm 1.8.

Me with Nikon D750, Sigma 150-600mm and Cotton Carrier harness.

CC: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to get “The Shot”?
MH: I’ve done most of my 'crazy stuff' while light painting at night in dark abandoned buildings. For one image, taken in an abandoned seminary, I scaled 3 floors to get images of me steel wool spinning at each level. I then combined them in Photoshop for a complete image. Bearing in mind it was in total darkness, standing at the edge of a sizeable drop, spinning steel wool on fire while having to trigger my shutter remotely, its definitely a tick for the crazy/stupid column.

Me Steel Wool Spinning in St Peters seminary

CC: Who has inspired you as a photographer?
MH: Too many to list to be honest. The modern day inspirations that immediately spring to mind are Sean Tucker, great photographer and a great philosophy on photography. Portrait wise I would say Lindsay Adler is an inspiration. I admire the work of Julia Anna Gospodarou in the black & white architectural genre. I recently discovered the work of Desiree Dolron and I find her work fascinating.

CC: What advice would you tell an aspiring photographer?

MH: Seek out CC (constructive criticism) on your images from photographers you admire or respect. I really believe it's a great way to grow your photography skillset. Receiving CC can be hard which is why I say 'seek it out from those you respect', then you know it will be genuinely beneficial to you. Also have a go at CC’ing other peoples images. We tend not to see what is right in front of us on our own images, so let rip on someone else’s image (in a constructive way) and I am sure you will learn from it. It may also help you notice things you didn’t previously in your own images.

CC: Can you share a photographic resource you personally use?
MH: In terms of a ‘learning' resource I find YouTube invaluable. In terms of a ‘physical' resource I would not be without my Cotton Carrier harness when out with my 600mm lens. I suffer from sciatica and carrying such a heavy set up can really hurt my back. Wearing the harness takes all the pressure off my back and I can comfortable be out shooting for hours with no problems.
CC: How has photography shaped your day to day?
MH: Photography is a hobby for me and I find myself out with my camera any chance I get. It really is my passion in life and I will always find something to photograph whenever I get the chance.
CC: Where has photography taken you, and made you experience?
MH: Photography has opened up a whole new world to me and I have seen and explored more of my home country than I ever did before. I have been to places now that I would never have visited if it wasn’t for the sake of going to take photographs. I have also made a lot of friends and met people I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for photography. It really is a way of life.
CC: Any exciting photographic events in coming up you’d like to share?
MH: With the whole COVID situation events have been pretty non existent. Now that we are making progress in living with it I am sure there will be plenty of events coming up in 2022. One of the photographic events I have really missed is the Scottish Air Show. Hopefully that will be back next year, usually happens October time. Seeing and photographing the Red Arrows Display is an amazing experience.