Trevor Cole is a Derry born photographer whose work focuses on culture, landscapes and wildlife.
He now lives in Donegal after several years travelling and living all over the world in places such as England, Singapore, Togo, Italy, Ethiopia and Brazil.
Travel and photography became his two passions in life and he says that the images he takes: “reflect a spatial and temporal journey through life and which try to convey a need to live in a more sustainable world.
“I seek the moment and the light in whatever context I find myself and endeavour to use my photographic acumen to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.”
His work has been published in magazines, calendars and cards and has been used by both the tourist industry and for educational purposes.
His images have been exhibited in London’s Earls Court as well as in Ireland and Ethiopia. He reached the final of Travel Photographer of the year in 2010, 2011 and 2013 and was also a finalist in the ‘Wanderlust Magazine’ Travel Photographer of the year in 2013 in the portfolio category.
He recently took the time to answer a few questions from Ireland Calling.
Ireland Calling: Why did you want to be a photographer and how did you get into it as a profession?
Trevor Cole: I have taken photographs since my late teens. I think the stimulus was travel and just seeing the World through new eyes and endeavouring to capture some of those sights and moments.
IC: What training did you do?
TC: None! I am entirely self taught. Years of trial and error and a little reading here and there!
IC: What attracted you about your particular field of photography?
TC: Again the response has to be ‘travel’ and perhaps being a geographer and seeing the interactions between people and landscapes and the ways in which cultures reflect their particular environments. I also love shooting in monochrome – there is something about the way in which the simplicity of B&W conveys a more appealing and stark image.
IC: What would you say are the main challenges in getting the best pictures in your particular area?
TC: The challenges are many. Being in the right place at the right time to capture the light on a face or in a landscape/seascape or cityscape. Turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Always striving to improve and evolve as a photographer.
IC: How important to you are issues such as location, subject, lighting, time of day etc.
TC: Crucial – the right location, composition, light….like most photographers the golden and blue hours are to be favoured but when the circumstances are exceptional you just have to shoot! Filters have made this easier.
IC: What would say are the top two or three pictures you’ve taken and what is that makes them so good or special to you?
TC: Very difficult to select as it is always subjective and as I like shooting both landscape and portrait (outside) it makes it even more difficult but here are a few! I have included a few Irish landscapes, an Icelandic landscape, a Bedouin girl from Socotra and two Ethiopian images in monochrome!
IC: What cameras and special equipment do you use?
TC: A Nikon D800 and several very good lenses (14-24 f2.8, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8, 50mm prime f1.4 and few others + a variety of filters NDs/ND grads/ reverse grads/Big stopper…..
IC: Everyone can have access to good cameras nowadays. What does it take to stand out as a professional?
TC: A very difficult question! There are so many good photographers out there and they have the capacity to buy the very best and learn all the editing skills. I guess marketing, getting visibility, trying to find shots which are fairly unique/different, persistence, passion and if you risk nothing you risk everything!
IC: What tips and advice can you pass on to any of our readers who might be interested in photography, especially those in your specialist field?
• Spending a little more and acquiring good gear – there are good sources of second hand gear
• Learning from mistakes and being proactive in getting it right
• Trying to do most of what you want ‘in camera’ and leaving less to post editing but at the same time having the skills to edit simply and well
• Knowing your camera and what it can do. Avoiding using ‘automatic modes’ – truly understanding metering, aperture, exposure compensation, white balance, ISO…
• Composition – seeing your subject through eyes which enable you to see what you truly want to see. Try getting down low, or shooting from above, slow exposures, night photography – find your niche
IC: What kind of projects are you planning next?
TC: I like to travel to areas which are a little off the map! I am going to the Danakil desert in Ethiopia in November and then into Somaliland – people and landscapes and cultural diversity.
IC: Is there one special picture you’d like to get that has so far eluded you? Tell us about it and how you plan to get it in the future.
TC: I would love to do some aerial photography at the right time of day (dawn or dusk) over the Irish coastline or in other more exotic environments. A different perspective.
IC: What advice would you give to people wanting to become a professional photographer?
TC: If you want something then you can do it – have faith in your own capacity and do it today not tomorrow. Be the change you want to see in yourself.