Ruth Grindrod is a landscape photographer based in Norfolk, East Anglia, England. Her photos mostly showcase the natural beauty of the United Kingdom. She has a great deal of experience as a photographer and teacher, and recently I had the opportunity to interview her. I think you’ll find Ruth’s interview to be inspiring and insightful. You’ll also see some beautiful photos!
Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started with photography?
My love of photography started 40 years ago when I fell in love with a Nikon FE2 camera. I began taking photos of the landscape I lived in, which was SE London, and found that I really liked developing black and white images. These images were gritty urban shots often depicting how tough life could be in inner city London.
From there my love of landscape grew and I began returning to East Anglia where I had been to university. Forty years ago Norfolk and Suffolk were under populated and there was lots of wild space to experiment with using Kodachrome 64.
As with most people, work took over for the next 20 or so years – work being teaching, leading and inspecting schools. Its really been the last 5 years that I seriously took up landscape photography again. This time using digital equipment but still using Nikon gear: Nikon D810 plus a Fuji XT2.
Do you have any formal photography training?
No formal training –self taught and learnt from working with others. This is important and a good photographer can teach you loads when you first begin.
What draws you to landscapes rather than other types of photography or subjects?
The reason I love landscapes is because I love being “out” in it . Pure and simple . Whatever it throws at you: rain, snow, gales, sun etc. – it’s always a special experience. I find it a great source of relaxation to be out there alone, working out what to shoot next. Every landscape is different and each requires a different style of photography, which means you have to think differently if you want to produce varied images.
What is one important lesson that you have learned through your own photography?
The key lesson is don’t ever think you have cracked it, don’t ever think you know it all! There is always another challenge round the corner, which you can learn from. I am continually learning the more I shoot and the more I process. That’s what makes it exciting
You’ve received a lot of recognition and been featured in various publications. Is there any accomplishment or recognition that is especially meaningful to you?
To be honest I do like to see my work in print. I don’t really mind where it’s published as long as the quality of the printing is good in the publication. It’s nice to be awarded recognition in competitions but they are not the be-all and end-all. There are always a lot of losers and for some this can be disheartening. I was pleased to have work commended in the famous Landscape Photographer of the Year competition and I am looking forward to my October, 2018 exhibition in The Aldeburgh gallery- Aldeburgh Suffolk.
Can you tell us about one of your favorite local spots to photograph?
Without a doubt I love Scotland and Ireland. They are wild and unspoilt. However closer to home I love the North Norfolk coast in the winter months. Visitors have died down and the light in those big skies can be fantastic. There is bleakness to the landscape that captivates me and you can walk for miles along the coast waiting for the right light. My real love is coastal work so I am lucky to live so close to it.
I see you do some speaking to photographic clubs. What do you enjoy most about that?
Speaking to clubs reminds me of when I was teaching. It’s important to remember that having good photographs is not enough when you speak with groups. You have to engage the audience too and get them to participate. I know I can do this as I have been speaking successfully to groups of people all my life. I like to leave the group with a sense of enjoyment and maybe they will have learnt something as well.
What are some common mistakes that you see new photographers making?
Having a cheap tripod is number one!! People spend thousands on cameras, lenses and filters and then go and buy a tripod that resembles 3 garden canes!! You need a really good tripod for landscape work, one that holds the weight of your gear and can tolerate strong winds, seawater and sand etc.
Number two is being unprepared, e.g. not researching your location before you shoot it. You need to find out dawn and sunset times, where the light is coming from, where the best spot is for your shot etc. Visualise what you want to achieve. In other words don’t just turn up, do your research before hand.
Number three is not being able to adapt. Weather conditions change all the time so know your camera on and off the tripod so you can shoot accordingly. Don’t always expect to do things the same way because you can’t. Finally don’t expect a winner every time you go out – it just wont happen!
What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?
Buy good quality equipment that you like and that will stand up to a lot of use. Don’t buy every lens in the shop as you wont use them. I use my Nikkor 24-70mm lens 70 % of the time. Get to know what your camera does and how all works. Use it a lot in all weathers, if it is weather proofed, and go out and practice as much as you can. You will not learn the craft of photography by having the best gear packed away in the bag.
Learn the basics of processing using Lightroom or Photoshop or both. A good course led by someone who can teach and take good photos is worth paying for. But, and this is a big but, make sure the course matches your starting point.
Take a look at the work of the ‘Greats’ in photography and work out why they are great!
Finally make sure you enjoy what you do when out there shooting. Take what you want to, not what is fashionable or what you think others will like. It’s your camera and your eyes that do the work, so make the photograph your own.
Aside from photography, what do you like to do for fun?
I spend quite a lot of time travelling not to far flung places, but places within the UK. I like to get to know new areas and to be honest I am always seeing things in terms of a good photo. However sometimes you can just over shoot so its good to just enjoy the area and what it has to offer. Other interests and passions are good food and cooking, and dare I say it a bit of politics. The world is changing rapidly and not always for the better, so being aware and active politically is important to me.
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All photos in this post are © Ruth Grindrod, used with permission.