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Green Light in the City

Photography in Notts: Lamar Francois

6 March 18 interview: LeftLion

Since winning the Young Creative Awards in 2012, photographer Lamar Francois has gone from strength to strength. We had a word to find out more about the man behind the lens...

When did you first realise you were interested in photography?
I’d always enjoyed art at school, though I didn’t excel as much as I did in maths and science. I’d been curious about photography since a family friend bought a Polaroid instant camera, but it wasn’t until 2008 that I was able to explore my interest by hiring a camera from the University of Nottingham’s PhotoSoc.

What photographers do you particularly admire?
Scott Wilson, a former Nottingham-based photographer, has always been a massive inspiration for his photos of night-time urban landscapes. Thom Hogan is another photographer I admire; I appreciate the quantitative approach he brings into his camera reviews and commentary, in addition to the wildlife work he does.

What common threads run through your work?
For me, photography is about seeing things other people don’t. Stylistically, I lean towards bold styles and colours, with plenty of detail in areas of shadow; I’ve never been one to explore minimalist compositions. I love capturing people’s candid emotions, too.

Does your Aspergers affect your work at all?
One of the known traits of Aspergers is being able to work in a systematic manner, which really helps with finding compositions and developing ideas. However, in the creative industry, things are geared around networking and having a personal touch. As a result, I found it challenging to build relationships in the beginning, but I’ve found a way.

You won Nottingham’s Young Creative Awards in 2012. How were the awards important to your progress?
I’d entered the awards as a hobbyist, having taken some photos which matched the overall theme, and didn’t expect to win. The experience encouraged me to believe I had a future with the craft I love so much, and seeing my work being recognised was very encouraging.

What are your proudest career moments?
Seeing the early stages of the Team GB Rowing trials in Boston and working under the eye of Sir David Tanner was a very proud experience. Working with Wolfgang Buttress to help portray his intricate public artworks was also a highlight. Donating prints from a photo essay of the memorial to Owen Jenkins in Beeston Weir to his mother was something I was very happy to be able to do.

What tips do you have for new photographers?
Think about what you enjoy photographing and why; you should be connected with a purpose, and explore often. Don’t be constrained by preconceived notions of what a photograph should be. You don’t need the most expensive gear either, particularly camera bodies. DSLR sensors are approaching diminishing returns, so cameras made around 2007 are still useful despite being ten years old.

Any exciting plans for the future?
I’ve just released a series of limited edition prints, putting my spin on urban landscapes familiar to many, which will expand to include greetings cards that’ll be stocked in local galleries and gift shops. I’m particularly interested in documenting public art installations, theatre companies and creative organisations. I’m also considering offering one-on-one workshops and aiming to host an exhibition around autumn, so watch this space!

Lamar Francois website

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