We interview exciting photographer & Sony ambassador Ron Timehin - from developing your own style to the pitfalls of social media and his go kit...
Next week we head out to learn the art of creating memorable cityscapes under the tutelage of Sony Ambassador Ron Timehin. We’ll report back on that shortly – we’re looking forward to passing on some tips that you can put into practice next time you’re out shooting.
In the meantime, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to ask Ron a few questions about how he’s developed his distinctive style over the years, the opportunities and perils of social media, and (of course!) what his go-to kit is.
Ron is a respected photographer who started out as a keen nature photographer, and has developed a distinctive moody style that is recognisable in his cityscape and portrait work today.
A big hitter on Instagram, Ron is also an Ambassador for Sony and his clients include many top brands, from Adidas and Nike through to Mercedes Benz and Fred Perry.
In your presentation at The Photography Show, you talked about the importance of developing your own style. How does the influence of your musical background show in your photos today?
I definitely feel that to find your personal style in photography, you have to look at your past and explore what your influences are. For me that was music. Growing up playing the trumpet and taking a particular interest to Jazz, I found that I was always attracted to the melancholic sounds. They were more emotionally stimulating for me than the typical happy motif that is constantly used in popular music. This is where I believe my love for dark moody imagery comes from.
It was interesting to see how your early landscape work influenced your approach to cityscapes. This, in turn, led to some impressive backdrops for your portrait and commercial work. Was learning this blend of disciplines planned or organic, and how did it make you grow as a photographer?
Photographing nature definitely gave me the space and time to practice the fundamentals in photography, such as lighting, composition, focus and learning how to use my camera gear. There weren’t as many factors to be aware of when comparing to cityscape or street photography.
When I began shooting cityscapes more, I had already started gaining confidence in my ability to capture the city settings at a basic level. From here, I was then able to look for more interesting locations, angles and concepts. At this point in time, I really wanted to shoot more commercial work for brands, however I lacked the knowledge of shooting portraiture.
I decided to turn my weakness into a strength and I began practicing portraiture photography. This was very daunting at first. One thing I wanted to maintain in my people photos, was having a beautiful setting as a backdrop and so to do this, I would set up the shot as if it were just a normally cityscape/landscape shot and simply input the model. Since then, I have found a great passion for portraiture photography and I enjoy experimenting with different ideas.
Social media is an important tool for the modern photographer, and you have a large following of nearly 60K on Instagram. Do you ever set out and tailor a shoot specifically with Instagram in mind?
Social media is an asset I believe every photographer should use in their own way. I personally saw it as a visual diary and a source of inspiration when I first used the platform. It soon quickly turned into a way for me to connect with like-minded people across the globe. Following a feature from Instagram around 4 years ago, my following quickly grew and that’s when I began thinking about the content I was creating and how my audience would react to it. Although I don’t want to specifically create content for the likes, I can’t deny the joy it brings when an image you post is well received.
However, I don’t like to visit the same popular Instagrammable locations that everyone else goes to, I like to find the hidden and obscure locations. I find it more interesting and in a world where there is content saturation, it helps me stand out. For the next year, I plan on taking this further and exploring more remotes parts of the world where I can also lend a hand in aiding communities in need. I feel there is too much emphasis on being an influencer and being famous, than actually using that influence for good and for change. I want to help push this mindset.
What are the pitfalls of social media? Do you ever find yourself benchmarking against others, or getting riled by negative comments?
There are many pitfalls in social media. Getting caught up in the numbers game, shooting only for social media and followers, ego and comparing your life to everyone else’s. The way I like to think about it, is your life is what makes you unique! If you try to copy others, then that will take away what is special to you.
Also, an important thing to remember is that when you are on social media, what you see if a curated snapshot of the highlights happening in peoples lives. There is always more happening beneath the surface than is shared online. Regarding negative comments, I tend not to take them too seriously. Unless it’s constructive feedback, it means nothing to me.
What is your favourite location you have shot at? And your dream destination?
Choosing a favourite location is hard ha! Each place holds a fond memory or experience for me. Some of my favourites have been Beijing, New Orleans, Chicago and Newfoundland in Canada.
Architecturally speaking, inside the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona has to be one of my favourites to shoot. I would love to shoot more nature again! Iceland, Faroe Islands, Norway, Sri Lanka and numerous parts of Africa would be awesome. City wise, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, Dubai, Mexico, India. The list is endless.
You’re a Sony Ambassador - what are the current ‘must-haves’ in your kitbag?
Yes, becoming a Sony Ambassador was a dream come true! For me, my current set-up is:
- Sony A7R3 for landscape, cityscape and hi-res portrait/product photography.
- Sony A9 for street, sport and general photography.
- 12-24mm f/4 for architecture and some cityscape photography
- 35mm f/1.4 for general shots and wide portraits
- 50mm f/1.4 for portraiture or for stitching landscape/cityscape shots.
- 70-200mm f/2.8 for a variety of settings. Street, portraits, landscapes, cityscapes, music, sport.
You can see more of Ron’s work on his Instagram page.
If you like this blog, you may also like:
First impressions of the Sony a7R III by Tobi "Tobishinobi" Shonibare
Sony 24mm review - hands on with the f/1.4 G Master lens
Sony a7 III - Mirrorless, Full-Frame Camera Review
Leica Q - Street Photography in New York
By Park Cameras on 20/11/2018
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