ViewBug community member TomCornish is a Manchester based photographer who characterizes himself as a conceptual photographer. Learn the reasons why, you'll be inspired!

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, how do you describe your photography style?

I’m 26, born and raised in South Yorkshire UK. I’m currently researching a PhD in biotechnology, which I’m quite close to finishing now. Photography is my biggest passion and ultimately what I’d love to do for a living. My photographic style varies, but if I were to describe some common themes I like to portray in my work I’d say ‘weird and wonderful’, ‘surrealist’, ‘conceptual’ and ‘emotive’.

Alien by TomCornish

2. In one sentence what has photography done for you in your life?

It’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done, it’s taken me places, connected me with people and provided me with an outlet for my innermost feelings.

Night Terrors by TomCornish

3. When did you start taking photos and what inspired you to get started?

I started taking photos in 2014 having felt that I had very little creative outlet in my life. I remember how excited I was when I arranged my first shoot. It was just capturing water droplets so that I could get used to my camera settings, but I was over the moon to see how well the photos were turning out as I took them. The next big inspiration I had was in reading a book titled ‘Inspiration in Photography: Training Your Mind to Make Great Art a Habit’ by the fine art photographer Brooke Shaden. She continues to make incredible work and is completely self-taught! It helped me to realise that it doesn’t take fancy qualifications to make you a photographer, only ideas, a willingness to try them out and practice. After reading it I began thinking of interesting concepts to photograph and it all went from there. One of my first pieces was ‘Slipping Away’ which represented strong feelings I was having of wasting time chasing a career that I knew I didn’t love.

Slipping Away by TomCornish

4. What has been your favorite shoot and why?

I think this one has to be ‘Apple Flavoured Rain’. I asked my sister Zoe to model for the photo. I’d bought a second hand dress for her that was completely the wrong size, then asked her to jump with an umbrella in a field for 20 minutes while busy trams went past. Needless to say she wasn’t best impressed at the time, but we were both happy with how the photo turned out. It’s always funny shoot to think back to, we had a good laugh that day.

Apple Flavoured Rain by TomCornish

5. Do you remember a difficult photo shoot session? What happened?

This was a tough one because of the different elements involved in the photo. I had to shoot 3 separate photos: the first with pouring water from a sponge, the second with the cotton wool cloud and the third as a self-portrait on the bed. By the end of the shoot I had soaked the bed and myself with the water, and cotton wool had escaped all over the bedroom floor. Lots of cleaning up was needed after, both physically and in post-processing.

Morning Blues by TomCornish

6. What do you carry in your camera bag?

It varies, but currently a Nikon D750 with a 24-70 f2.8 lens, and an infrared converted Nikon D70 with a 35mm 1.8 lens. I carry props or outfit changes too if I have a specific idea in mind. Also never forget those spare batteries!

7. Do you have a favorite location and time of the day to shoot?

I’m growing more and more fond of shooting outdoors, especially at sites with great natural beauty. I recently visited San Francisco and Yosemite National Park in California and took a series of photos in infrared. Those kinds of shots need plenty of daylight for you to reap the full benefit. I’m less concerned with time of day if shooting with a normal camera, I try to pick the time, weather and location to best suit the story I’m trying to put across.

Fluid Imagination by TomCornish

8. Can you share three tips with your fellow photographers?

1. Use online tutorials. I’ve learned nearly everything I know in photography by reading or watching these. It’s all so accessible and free, which is perfect if you’re like me and on a budget.

2. Surround yourself with people who encourage you. Putting work out there that is very personal to you isn’t easy, so it’s good to have friends who have your back and will offer honest and constructive criticism. It’s also good to form a network with people who inspire you, whether it’s another photographer, someone creative or a friend who’s willing to join in with your shoots.

3. Put your work out there. I would have never improved if I hadn’t shared my photos online. It lets you see how well others relate to your work and helps you to form an identity with your own material.

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9. Can you share how you took this photo?

Don't Lose Your Head by TomCornish

I took this just on the street in a local residential area in the middle of the day. The weather was overcast, so I knew there wouldn’t be an issue with lighting. Diffuse light is much easier to work with in post-processing than direct sunlight because sunlight can cast strong shadows on the subject that are very difficult to manipulate after the photo is taken. I didn’t need much equipment, just the camera (Nikon D7000 with 35mm 1.8 lens) and a tripod. This photo is quite akin to ‘Slipping Away’ in that I was trying to capture some strong feelings I was having about the working world. Many of us work just to earn money, even if we don’t particularly enjoy our jobs. There’s nothing wrong with that for some, but I had become quite aware that I didn’t want this. I used a balloon to represent an empty head, and the man in a suit with a briefcase to represent the working person. To me this represents the lack of thought I’d put into my education, having geared it towards an earning potential rather than a real passion.

This is a composite photo of a few different photographs put together in Photoshop. I used a friend as the subject and took the main photo with him in the street. I cloned elements of the background to remove his head and reconstructed the shirt collar using a separate photo of a white shirt. Several distracting elements were removed from the background such as rubbish, a red van and a man crossing the street using background cloning. I finally readjusted the image curves to enhance the red balloon and blue suit and added a vignette for subject emphasis.

Yin Yang by TomCornish

10. Please share some thoughts on your ViewBug experience as a photographer!

I’ve really loved being part of Viewbug! It’s been a great platform to showcase my work and communicate with artists at all levels and styles. The competitive element is fun, but I enjoy the community aspect the most. I feel like the Viewbug team do a fantastic job of encouraging people to interact on here.

Follow tomcornish on ViewBug, Facebook and Instagram.