Through the Lens: Ben Hargreaves (@deep_nxrth)
For this month’s spotlight on Sheffield snappers, we speak to Ben Hargreaves (@deep_nxrth) about his journey into photography, lessons learned along the way and why seals make the best shoot buddies.
How did you get into photography?
Well, I didn’t pick up a camera until I was, say, maybe 19/20 years old. Before that I just used my phone. I remember when I first bought an iPhone, I was obsessed with how sharp the images looked and started playing around taking images of anything and everything. From flowers, the bumps on my basketball to water droplets on my window after it had rained. I was pretty content with that. One day, I was browsing through the app store and saw an app called VSCOcam, now called VSCO. It’s an app that allows you to edit photos on your phone. So, I downloaded it, edited some of the photos I’d taken and that was all she wrote. I was hooked.
What sort of picture catches your eye?
This is a hard question as there are so many types of photographs that catch my eye. I can honestly say I enjoy most types of photography. I do tend to go through phases though. Recently I have been searching for car photography and any type of film photography. I do not know the first thing about cars, but when I see a photoset of a nice car, especially the interior and all the fine details, it really catches my eye. With film, it could even be a bad film photo that’s blurry, super grainy, overexposed – I still love it!
Do you have a favourite location to shoot?
The Lake District. Hands down. I’ve been to quite a few places around the world, but the Lake District is my favourite, so far anyway. It has everything a landscape photographer would want: mountains, lakes, rustic villages, HIGHLAND COWS! I remember at one time, my goal for around a year or two was to get one decent image of a Highland Cow, and the Lake District, Buttermere specifically, was the first place I got an image of one! I took around 60 photos in the space of two minutes and dipped as I thought I was going to get charged at.
What advice would you give budding photographers?
Honestly, I’m still a budding photographer myself. There are so many goals I want to hit so I’m probably not the best to give advice. But I would say two things. Firstly, don’t get yourself down for not having the best equipment. I currently use an old second-hand Canon 6D with a 50mm 1.8 aperture lens that cost me, I believe, £120. The equipment does not make your art: you do. Cheesy to say but it’s true. Obviously, as your skills improve and want to start making money, upgrades are great, but it all comes with time. Don’t rush. Use what you have and be happy with it until you can upgrade your equipment.
The equipment does not make your art: you do.
The second bit of advice is not really to do with the act of taking photos, but with social media. DO NOT GET OBSESSED WITH THE NUMBERS! If you allow yourself to only take photos to post so people like them on Instagram or Twitter or whatever platform you use, you’ll find yourself falling out of love with photography if your engagement isn’t great. I was, for a solid year at least, obsessed with the amount of likes I would get on a post. Social media is great for growth and getting noticed and when it goes well and you get a lot of engagement, it’s amazing. But when it doesn’t go well and you’re not hitting as many likes as you expected, as many comments as you thought you would or you lose followers, then you can go to a bad place. Your mental health comes first.
Do you have a favourite image/shoot to date?
There are two that come to mind when I am asked this question. The first is when me and a few friends took a trip up to Ravenscar Cliffs and we saw a colony of seals. They were everywhere and I was in awe. It was honestly like watching a David Attenborough documentary. The image is of a lone seal on its side. I walked up to him – he was super chill – snapped a few photos, said cheers, and went on my way.
The second image and possibly my favourite of all time was taken on the outskirts of Mount Snowden. It’s just a simple house at the far end of a huge field surrounded by trees. It was a cold winter morning, and the field and roof of the house was covered in frost, so it looked like a blanket of snow. The house had a single light on in the upstairs window, giving the hint of someone starting their days. I just thing it tells a subtle story and I’m in love with it!
What motivates you creatively?
Honestly, I don’t know. When most people answer this question, they have some profound reason on why they are creative and what makes them motivated to create something. With myself, I just enjoy being creative.
To view more of Ben’s work, check out his Instagram @deep_nxrth