DGWGO FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER – HOLLY BURNS

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My name is Holly Burns, a 29 year old mother of one, currently living in Newton Stewart. Photography is a rather recent passion of mine. When growing up I was always in love with art and was determined to be an artist and nothing else.

Almost a decade ago I studied fine art at Duncan of Jordanstone in Dundee for 2 years but didn’t feel like it was really right for me. I didn’t create anything for years after until quite by chance after buying a laptop I was introduced to photoshop elements which was already installed on it, After a lot of experimenting I found I was able to create without having expensive canvas and paints. I could literally sit right next to my newborn baby while he slept and tinker away with photoshop. As an anniversary present I was given an entry level DSLR and was, for the next year, very happy taking snaps of my baby, shooting his beautiful little face on auto. I did however become frustrated with the limitations of auto mode and remember thinking “this pop up flash makes everything look horrible!” and “why can I never take those pictures with the background blurred?’

I found myself using a lot of techniques within Photoshop to allow me to make a fairly bog standard image look better however I ultimately wanted to learn more and more techniques relating to the use of the camera so that I could first take a good image and hopefully make it wonderful!

I therefore chose to study Photography on a full time basis and first completed an HNC then the following year an HND in Photography at Dumfries and Galloway college. My first goals when taking the course was to master my camera in manual however, I never imagined i’d leave with the skills that I have learned and this gave me an explosive fire in my belly for returning to fine art again but alongside my new found Photography skills

Holly Burns Facebook PageHolly Burns Flickr Page

I am now at a wonderfully exciting stage in my career where I don’t know what the future holds for me, perhaps I will be mixing fine art with advertising ie. creating album covers, book covers etc. I would also love to showcase my work in more galleries selling limited edition prints. Im not sure yet which direction i shall take but I do know I’m continuing my studies in photography in Glasgow after the summer at a BA/HONS level which I am very excited about.

So far my fine art work has comprised of a series of self portraits. I find the best method to create my more surreal images is through compositing. In this way I can collect a host of different images, bring them all together and create what I see in my mind and not what was simply there. My recent series of images are inspired by my memories and experiences at various stages in my life. My work is very conceptual so really they are metaphors of my emotions during difficult times.

I particularly love the juxtaposition of choosing beautiful settings for my images while the content has very much dark undertones. Often it is only by looking deeper, does it become very clear that there is something darker going on and I hope this makes the viewer want to understand the persons story and perhaps then they might relate with their own experience.

Finding a beautiful setting is incredibly easy in Dumfries and Galloway as on every corner of the region there is an abundance of sandy and rocky beaches, forests, farmland, fields of wildflowers, well known castles and hidden abandoned historic buildings, lakes, burns and rivers. We are lucky to have so much beautiful scenery which is just a stones throw away. I love spending afternoons off exploring and location scouting and finding that perfect setting which will compliment the themes of my imagery and ultimately help convey my story. Nothing beats that feeling of ‘this is it, this is the location I could see in my minds eye.’ Some of the locations in the series within this magazine include an abandoned croft near Stoneykirk, Moss Yard on a cold blustery day, winter forest land in Newton Stewart, rural Glentrool and Im currently working on an image that took me to a big waterfall on the outskirts of Dalry.

Equipment:

I use a Nikon D700 and my favourite lens (especially with composite work) is a 50mm prime and a tripod. Since compositing is my chosen method, good photoshop skills are paramount. I can typically spend anywhere from 6 – 20 hours (and occasionally up to 60 hours) editing in CS6 in order to ensure everything is blended together in a finite manner and these efforts ultimately leave the image believable.

TIP for creating a conceptual fine art image:

Before you even lift your camera, decide the who, the what and the why of your intended image.
What are you going to shoot – literally what objects, scene, model etc… are you going to use to create your concept.
How are you going to shoot it – how are you going to pull all the elements together to make a cohesive scene, be mindful that you keep your perspective, lighting, depth of field all have to be the same, this is imperative or your image will look wrong.
Why – what is the story, what are you trying to tell your viewer

Always shoot with intent. When i say this i mean think of your idea before you start shooting, maybe even sketch it out but have a clear idea of what you want to say and then think of all the components you need to make that story happen. If you just go out and shoot and make your story later, your image will not be cohesive and likely have little meaning to you and it is unlikely that the viewer will understand it.

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