How do you keep your photography interesting? How do you convey the feeling behind each photo? How do you become a better photographer? These are questions that we all have in common! We are excited to share our conversation with ViewBug community member jamesallenstewart who shares his answers to these and other questions.

1. When someone looks at your photos, what do you want them to take away from it? What are you trying to communicate?

I think about this almost every time I start working on an image, and especially when I try to select that one image that makes it out of many hundreds from a shoot. I've looked at thousands and thousands of images and tried to analyze them and find out "WHY is this image so interesting? Why am I still looking?", and it is the "why" that is the secret; the undefinable, the unanswered question. I want the viewer to be curious when the person sees the expression of the model. I want the viewer to wonder "what is she thinking about? What is she feeling?" and make up his or her own answer. In that way, a picture becomes personal, and it leaves an emotion with the viewer that will be remembered, and that is what I want the viewer to take with him.

"Photography is not just something you do or don't do,

it is a giant world of unending categories, genres, emotions, styles and messages" - James Stewart

2. What is it that you love about photography?
Definitely the adversity. Photography is not just something you do or don't do, it is a giant world of unending categories, genres, emotions, styles and messages. You can never get tired of it, and you evolve as time goes by. I feel that my very mindset has been changed since my first photo shoot, and will continue to change for every single image I shoot. This is what I love. It's a parallel journey alongside yourself with so many experiences, people, places and feelings.

3. What has photography done for you?
I clearly remember sitting in my room for many hours working on one image when I was quite new, and I was removing small specks of hair from a jacket in photoshop to remove distracting contrasts (oh yes, it matters). My mind was so boiled that I had to take a break, and I went outside with my silly pug. It was raining, and the air was clear and cold, but something was different. Suddenly everything looked different. I could see every single raindrop falling individually, I would notice how far I could see details in the bricks of the walls down the street, I could look up in the sky and see what colors the sky was mixed with from one side to the other. I was in the visual mindset, and I felt so free as I have ever been. This is what photography has done for me; it has shown me purpose and beauty in everything.

4. Do you try to be conceptual or do you prefer to show the feeling behind a photo?
It's hard for me not to think about conceptual photography as something that shows a lot of feelings. I am on a journey towards more conceptual photography, but I've always enjoyed the "simple" joys, the raw emotions and the depth involved in these feelings. In the end, I want to combine emotions and concept.

"We have booked a hotel-suite on a luxurious island where we will have a romantic weekend and have cocktails each evening,

just me and my dear camera." - James Stewart

5. What are your 3 tips for others who want to become inspiring photographers?
Listen closely, these will be your lantern in the darkness in your journey towards a goal.
1. Continue. Yes, it is that simple. You will feel lost, you will want to give up, you will look at your images and think "yeah, they're pretty good!" and the next day you will compare them to some other photographers portfolio and realise that your "pretty good" pictures are absolute dungbettle poop. And that's the worst kind of poop. When that moment hits you, just remember that even the world famous photographer has felt just like you in his journey. If he had given up at that moment, he would never have gotten to be what he is today. It may not feel like you are improving, but trust me, you will, as long as you follow the next tip.
2. Hate your own work. I'm being dramatic here, but to be critical towards what you're making is absolutely crucial for improving. I strive to never be satisfied, but accept the current level of skill that I have and know its limits. It is a tough balance between perfection and acceptance, but often it is quite simple: if you're feeling lazy and just want an image to be done even though you were sloppy with some details, take a break, maybe return to it in a day or two, and look at it with fresh eyes. I've promised myself not to finish a photo and post it on the same day. I'll give my head some rest and return to it tomorrow. You'd be amazed at how much difference it makes.
3. Be inspired. This is in some way a no-brainer, but I see many photographers being stuck in the same stuff for many years without realizing how much inspiration can be found on great pages like ViewBug. Find your own category, search for keywords that you would give your own photos, and compare. I'm not saying you should be a copycat, but there is technique, tricks, and ideas that can be developed and made into your own ideas. Don't worry, you will find your own style one day, it comes natural and until then, you will be thankful that you have the tools required to outlive those dreams.

6. Have you received negative feedback from your work? What did you do about it?
I don't think it is possible to be a photographer without hearing some grumpy words now and then. Sometimes they are just from insecure people who want to say something bad about anything to feel that they have made an impact, and sometimes they are right. It is again a hard balance, because even a guy who has never taken a picture might have a really good taste in photography and understands what the eye likes to look at and should be taken seriously.

When I was very new, I commented on a picture from the extremely talented Adrian Sommeling, mentioning how it was unfortunate that the light was a bit off in this composition, and I knew that he had the talent to do better. Another world famous photographer found this extremely provoking and insisted that nothing was wrong with the light and that it was perfect and I had no right to say anything because of my current skill-level. Adrian answered later, explaining that I was right, he had not had the optimal circumstances for the light he wanted and it was a shame. I was hurt by the comments about my skill-level, but I took it as a challenge and promised myself that I would be better than the other world famous photographer one day, and it also taught me to never underestimate anyone's opinion about my own photography.

7. Where did you learn to take photos?
As many others, I learnt it by myself. I have always taught myself everything, having refused to have teachers when I learnt how to play guitar, piano and singing, and with photography as well. I do not say that being taught at a school is wrong, we are all different and have different ways of learning. I personally just need to go at my own pace, and it would have been hard to get to where I am today from when I started 1½ years ago if I hadn't indulged myself in youtube tutorials, photoshoots and critique from others.

8. If you could have the gift of a great photographer who would it be and why?
I was absolutely mindblown when I found Alex Currie, an 18-year old fella with creativity and feeling beyond belief. His insight and free thoughts create the most amazing scenes and situations that seem so simple but yet induce so many feelings in you.

9. What is next for you? Any planned adventures with your camera?
Yes, we have booked a hotel-suite on a luxurious island where we will have a romantic weekend and have cocktails each evening, just me and my dear camera. I'm kidding, I always have plans for my next photo shoot. I might travel to a place with actual mountains, contrary my flat and boring home country Denmark, and get some landscape pictures. It is just one of many genres in photography, so why not!

Awesome stuff right? Follow jamesallenstewart to see more of his work and get inspired!