Zoom in on… the digital age

Nigel Francis has been embracing the inspiration of Oxford for twenty-five years, but also looks to far-flung locations in his work, which can be seen on www.francis photography.co.uk and www.oxford-photos.com  

 What is it specifically about this city that inspires you? Is there something here which you can’t find anywhere else?

Oxford cannot fail to inspire me; the architecture is not only timeless but also cathedral-like in its stunning array of styles, both inside and out. It’s also the history of the place, who has been here over the years. I always go past buildings and see a small detail I missed even though I may have been past it many times! Even in a city the light can be so different, from a murky fog-bound morning to a clear warm late evening. This is what I look for: the most dramatic light.

How did you get into photography, and this job in particular? 

I love architecture and landscapes so I’m lucky that I shoot photographs that I enjoy. I mainly work for high-end estate agents, architects, interior designers, and property developers. I also have a passion for travel  and over the last twenty years I have supplied photo libraries with my work from around the world.  

What camera do you usually use? Do you like to work in a naturalistic way or is there a freedom in digital editing? This side of my business has changed the most with the advent of digital photography and, of course, the internet. Prices have dropped and competition has increased. However saying that I do shoot digitally with a Canon EOS5dmk2, as well as using Photoshop and Lightroom to process and re-touch my work. You can achieve amazing things on a computer, where I seem to spend as much time as actually shooting the shot in the first place! 

Is there a big difference in the way  you have to work for a commercial as opposed to a personal project? 

My commercial work is maybe a little less artistic than my Fine Art black & white collections, but it is strong and well-executed to show the buildings at their best.

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If you could do a shoot anywhere in the world, and with anyone, what would you do? 

Two places still not ticked off my wish list are Iceland and New Zealand. Iceland’s ruggedness, harsh conditions and possibility of seeing the northern lights appeals to me, similarly the vast landscapes of New Zealand. Other photographers I admire are Ansel Adams, with his stunning black and white landscapes in America, and the USA steam-train photographer Ogle Winston Link, who did amazing work lighting night-shots with masses of flash back in the 1950s. 

Tell us a little bit about your latest work. What have you been working on? And where can we see it? 

My recent work has been black and white shots of Oxford and around the world, plus tree silhouettes as I love the different shapes, colours and light that you get in woodlands. I currently have a larger exhibition showing till October 24th at Chipping Norton theatre too.

Do you have any advice for budding photographers? 

For anyone who is starting out in photography, all I can say is shoot lots! You are very lucky with the digital age that you can shoot unlimited amounts of shots (not like in my earlier days of film) Learn from your mistakes, the old principles are still valid. You can test, refine, experiment almost for free when you have a camera. You can show your work on Flickr, Facebook, as many social media outlets as you can! If your work is good then someone will find you and who knows? 

Nigel Francis’ photos are currentlyon display in the Turl Street Kitchen