Name: Robert Godwin
Age: 22 years old
Creative passion: Photography
Course: BA Media Studies (final year)
How did your passion for photography start?
My passion started when I realised that I was bad at making films. I did a media course at college in which I had to make short films, but they were never quite what I wanted. And at the time, there was a rich guy in my class, and his parents got him this really expensive camera, an Olympus E410, and I had a go at it and thought that maybe this could be my thing, because I’ve always wanted to create digital media- the media industry is where I wanted to be. And so I borrowed it and then eventually bought it off him and then that’s when it all started really.
Who or what inspires you to take your photographs?
I think my biggest influence is Gregory Crewdson, and what is unique about his work is that he doesn’t actually take the photos – in a sense he is more like the director. He has an entire film crew and lighting directors- he creates sets like any other movie production, but rather than shooting movies there he shoots individual photos, and in these photos he tries to get as much of a narrative in that single frame as a movie would, so his photos look very cinematic and moody. You can just explore with your eyes- it takes minutes to just take in a single one of his photos, there is so much detail. I really like that idea- the whole concept of telling a story through a photo. When I first began that was an idea that I tried to use myself.
How do you balance being on your final year of university with your photography?
It is difficult. My studies have almost dumped into my time and my willingness to create. But equally, the university has a lot of societies- the photography society for instance- and that means that your mind is still preoccupied and critiquing other people’s work, so even if you can’t create work, you are still part of that community and have the same mindset that you would have if you were.
Have you done any professional work?
I have my weddings, that is the main thing, which is nice because they’re only ever on weekends and they pay quite well [laughing]. Everyone there expects to have their photo taken so it is quite easy work, everyone is smiling and dressed nicely. I have been asked to take on work, but I don’t know, I guess I am not really where I want to be with my photography yet. I don’t know whether it is a confidence thing… I want to take on more work but I think it is about the confidence in my own abilities. I think I have a long way to go before I am comfortable enough to take on that role.
Have you got any future plans after university in terms of carrying on with your passion?
Well, a fear of mine is that if I make photography my full time job, then I will stop enjoying it, because it will then become work and not something that I would wake up and be excited to do. On the opposite side, I do want to make the wedding photography a more consistent source of income. In a way, I want to have weddings as my professional work, but then I also see myself as an artist, so I want to actually try to create and take the photos that I want to take, you know what I mean?
But I have also got a lot of travel plans, post-graduation. Travel photography is some of my best work, especially since last year I won one of the Surrey Times’ prizes for ‘Photography of the Year.’ I don’t mean to brag [laughs] but yeah that was amazing. So the photo that won me that competition got me a trip to Peru and I also hope to see a bit more of South America while I’m there. And then I suppose the rest of my travels depend on whether I find a job!
Do you have any creative advice to anyone that would like to start photography?
The most thrown around phrase in photography is that “it is not the gear, it’s the person behind the camera”, and whilst that is true to an extent, you do need to get a conventional DSLR camera and actually understand how to use it, not only because that is the expectation in the industry, but also because it really does help to understand the fundamentals of how to take a photo and how to expose. Equally you can find them cheaply, so I wouldn’t say that it is a massive financial investment from the start if you are worried about that. But yeah, any camera that has all the standard manual controls that any camera would have is the best place to start. And then spend hours online looking at professional photographers and looking at the styles that really excite you. I mean the way I started was literally trying to copy Gregory Crewdson, and you can develop your own style from there really, that’s what I would say. GO TEAM.
Text by Monserrat Fernandez, photos are Robert’s own.