This week artist of the week is Oliver Charles, a 17 year old surreal photographer, who lives just outside of London and who was also kind enough to answer a never-endless list of my questions amidst of preparation for his last school exams. Click through if you want to get to know Oliver better and admire a few of his best сreations. Don't forget to check out his Flickr and Facebook Page for more ;)
If you could only use 3 words, how would you describe yourself?
Three words.. gosh, um.. in my stage of life right now, I am happy, inspired and excited.
You have a remarkable talent for self-portraits. When did you first tried yourself at & got interested in photography?
I've only actually really been into photography for about 2 years. I first discovered the whole self-portrait craze through a girl I knew - she had a flickr account and I flicked through her pictures once and was so amazed by the amount of emotion and depth to each picture, so the next day I made myself an account and started a 365 project!
Do you want to work as a professional photographer or model in the future?
As for the future.. I'm completely undecided as to what I want to do right now. I'm hopefully going to be studying architecture at university this year, so I won't be doing a photography based course as such, but I will continue taking pictures as a hobby as it is completely my favorite thing in the world to do. But who knows, I've always wanted to be involved in film and work behind the camera so, I guess I'll have to wait and see.What equipment do you use?
It's actually rather hilarious when I think about the equipment that I have, I've managed to survive without having a tripod throughout my entire photography career (books, boxes, anything I can find..). Other than that, I use a nikon d3100, and I only own one lens, the 50mm f1.8 which is an absolute dream. I'm trying to save up for a better camera, but right now I can't even afford to buy a replacement remote so it's going to take a while!
From all the remarkable photos you took, which one do you see as most exceptional and dear to you?
It's funny, I've been asked this question so many times and I still can't think of answer. Personally, with my style of photography, the next picture I create is always going to be my favorite, and I wouldn't be doing what I do if I didn't think that. I guess I have a couple of images which are very personal to me, like 'Sleeping by chimney top' or 'lion and the lamb'. But, for me, I never look back when it comes to creating art. I am extremely proud of a lot of work that I have created, but I prefer to focus on creating something new every day, learning from my mistakes and creating something even better.
How did you decide that this style of editing and this style of photography is the one for you? Why not shoot landscapes or architecture?
When it comes to subject matter, I couldn't think of shooting anything else other than people. I am extremely fascinated by the human form and the emotions that go with it. I think there's something so exciting about setting up a shoot and capturing a specific moment in time that could never be re-created or set-up. I also love nature and the outdoors, so I try to keep my images as natural as possible and try to create comparisons between the two. As for style, it has been a case of trial and error. When I first started photography, I was completely unaware of what I wanted to create, or what I wanted my images to look like. But after hours behind the camera and being glued to Photoshop, I see myself repeating similar processing techniques which have ultimately created the style of photography that I have today.
Before clicking the shutter, do you have a clear concept in your head of what it is you are trying to capture?How big of a role does editing play in your work?
Most of the time, yes. I always go out shooting with an idea in my head, but, similarly this idea always turns out completely different when it comes down to shooting and editing. Sometimes, I will have an idea of what I want the photo to look like exactly, and I will bring all the props I need and the shoot will go well. On the other hand, I can have days when I have no clue what to shoot, and I would literally find a random prop and pose next to it.
When it comes to editing, I find myself relying less on post-processing. When I first started creating images, it would be a case of not worrying about how the shoot goes, because I would always have Photoshop to make it look better. Sometimes, this would be fine, and other times, the image would look fake and un-natural. As I mentioned previously, I try to make my images look as natural as possible, but I try to add an element of surrealism to the image as I am a big lover of fairytales and creating dream-like images. Therefore, I still edit all of my images, as I normally have to manipulate several images together, but over time, I have tried to shoot as much in-camera as possible, to create a much more realistic end result.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Inspiration is key for me, I could never go out on a shoot if I wasn't excited or inspired. Inspiration primarily comes from other artists. I am a big lover of Sally Mann and Annie Leibvoitz, and of course all the talented photographers on flickr. Simply by looking at other peoples work makes me want to go outside and create art just like them.Nature is also very inspiring to me. When I'm feeling un-inspired, I could simply just stare out my bedroom window, listening to the noise of the outdoors and it would give me that warm feeling in my stomach where I want to venture outside and create something.
What kind of a role does music and literature play in the process?
Music and literature plays a very big part in my inspiration process. When I edit my images, I always listen to music, it helps me get into the right mind-frame, and I edit my photos to songs that I want my image to feel like. I'm also very inspired by film, and hopefully one day want to make the transition to moving image.
Any photographers & artist you look up to?
As I said before, Sally Mann and Annie Leibovitz are huge inspirations for me. Rosie Hardy and Brooke Shaden, obviously. I am also obsessed with Dali's work right now, which has actually had an impact on some new art I have been creating.
Are there certain things you haven't tried yet (photography wise) and are looking forward to do in the near future?Well as for subject matter, I would like to start taking pictures of people other than myself! I want to start using different models in my images, as I am restricted to some of the art I create by creating self-portraits as the character always has to be a boy. Which is fine, but there are specific concepts I have in my head which sometimes requires a female. I also want to start including some more fashion photography into my portfolio. Although, I would always include a 'fine-art' element into my images as that is what I love creating most, so hopefully in the future I will be able to create a mixture of the two.
What do you do when you have inspiration withdrawal?
For me, when I have tried every technique of trying to make myself inspired and I'm still unmotivated, I simple won't shoot. The image will look rushed and I probably won't create something which means a lot to me. Taking time away from the camera has worked out well for me in the past, clearing your head and taking time to think of new ideas is a great way of getting motivated again.
I've been sitting staring at this question for the past 15 minutes and I still can't answer it. I guess, I'm different from everyone else based on the art I create. I try to create something that is personal to me, and reflects the mood I am in at that moment in time, which ultimately has a unique end result.
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make sure you check out Charlie's FB and Flickr Page and stay tuned for some other amazing Flickr Photographers posts coming ;)