This week on the Prodibi Pixel Magazine, we go to the south coast of England to meet with Rachael Talibart, a critically-acclaimed photographer of stormy seas.
Rachael's photographs show her fascination for the sea and have been published in books and exhibited worldwide.
Let's discover her work through stunning photos powered by Prodibi!
A few words about you, how did you start photography ?
I’m a full-time, fine art photographer, specialising in coastal subjects. I first became interested in photography in my teens when I was given a little cartridge-film camera for Christmas. The obsession really set in when I took my first 35mm camera on a 9-week, solo, backpacking trip around the world. I’d just qualified as a solicitor and was able to take unpaid leave before settling into the rigours of practice. When I got back, I spent my first pay cheque as a qualified solicitor on an SLR and that was it, completely hooked.
I left the legal profession in 2000, when my daughter was born. There were lots of reasons, but looking back I see that I had become bored. It wasn’t just that I wanted to spend more time with the kids; I needed a new challenge. So I went back to university, studying part-time while the children were little. After obtaining a Masters in Victorian Literature and Art from University of London Royal Holloway (my dissertation was, unsurprisingly, about maritime literature), I considered doing a Ph.D. but the lure of photography was stronger and I decided to make it a career.
You seem fascinated by the water/ocean in all its forms, how did it start and what is the story behind this passion?
I grew up on the South Coast of England, in a yachting family. For the first twelve years of my life, every weekend and all of the school holidays were spent at sea. Unfortunately, I suffered from sea sickness so I was glad when Dad gave up long distance sailing, but those years left me with a lifelong fascination for the ocean and, although I now live in a landlocked county, I go to the coast as often as I possibly can, at least once a week.
Have you tried other photography styles? Or nature has always been your favourite subject?
Landscape/seascape was my first love and it’s always been there in the background but I have dabbled in many genres over the years. For a long time, I concentrated on macro, and insects in particular. I became quite obsessed with photographing bees in flight! I live near London so I’ve also done some street photography. Now I concentrate entirely on coastal subjects but I think the skills I developed in those other genres are still very relevant. For example, capturing bees in flight is not unlike capturing monster waves; both require fast reactions and lots of practice!
*Read on: A particular love for bad weather and philosophy, nature photography with Marta Anna Løvberg
For you, what describes a successful picture and why?
I am interested, both as creator and as viewer, in art that communicates emotion. I think of the camera as a creative tool and I try to make pictures that are less about documenting scenery and more about communicating how it felt to me to be there in that moment.
I also prefer pictures where room is left for the viewer’s imagination to engage. If we fill our canvas with unambiguous detail, the communication is one-way, artist to viewer. If we include empty or obscured areas in the picture or some ambiguity in its interpretation, such as you might have with more abstract images for example, the communication becomes two-way and, now, the viewer’s own imagination will also inform the picture’s meaning. This is exciting! The line between meaningful ambiguity and confusion is narrow, but that’s all part of the challenge.
What would be your advice for beginner nature photographers?
Get outside with your camera as often as you possibly can. Find somewhere you love that you can get to easily and go there repeatedly. Don’t let the weather forecast deter you. Poor light fosters creativity.
About your photography gear, what are your favourite tools?
My favourite tools are a Canon 5DSR and 16-35mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses, LEE Filters, Benro tripod, Canon Pro-1000 printer and fine art papers by Fotospeed and Hahnemühle.
Do you have projects for the future, like workshops, personal series?
Workshops are a big part of my business. I already have a well-established workshops business in the UK (www.f11workshops.com) and I also lead residential workshops for Ocean Capture, a leading fine art photography workshops business owned by Jonathan Chritchley. I will also continue writing for magazines and giving presentations at photography events.
As for my own photography, I need to make more time for it. The success of my workshops business, and the recognition Sirens has had as a portfolio, has been lovely but they both take up a lot of energy and it’s been difficult to make time for new work. I have a few projects on the go and I’m looking forward to spending more time on them.
To see more from Rachael:
Current exhibition until 12 November in Lenox, Massachusetts.
All photographs copyright Rachael Talibart and used with her permission.
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