Would you mind introducing yourself? My name is Harry Renton (@finding.a.reason.to.breathe) and I come from a place called the Peak District in England, but I currently reside in Cumbria just outside of the Lake District national park. (See Harry below)
Is there any specific way you would describe your style of photography? I guess I would say that my photography is ever changing. I’ve been influenced by so many people over the years that I’ve collected so many different ideas and thought processes that I try to shoot a variety of things. I love to shoot everything from the mountains to the streets. From portraiture to branding. I think I now fall into the guidelines of a “Environmental Lifestyle, portraiture and landscape photographer.” If that wasn’t a thing before I’ll claim the rights to the name.
When did you first fall in love with taking photos? My first love was being outside. When I was younger I spent hours and hours playing out my favourite stories from books and films. Spending time with my best friends in the countryside making memories that I would someday grow very nostalgic of. I grew up rock climbing, skateboarding, playing cricket, football and walking. The outdoors was where I felt like I belonged. Photography came into my life very slowly with me occasionally taking a photo on my parent’s camera or maybe my brother’s. I wouldn’t have been able to think about taking up photography without my parents. Then one day it was there all of a sudden. I don’t really remember how and why I became so attached to photography. I think I was about 15, having grown out of the childish playtimes and story books that I used to bury my head in and when I had run out of clubs to join; it was then I started noticing that I was getting better at taking photos with whatever camera I could lay my hands on. Photography was my way of detaching myself from the school work that I could never seem to agree with as an angsty teen but also a way of expressing myself in a way I never thought I’d be able to. I had never really known anything apart from music that I was particularly good at, so I think that is why I followed it with such enthusiasm. I think it was in my first year of college at the age of 17 that I found myself thinking that I could probably (with a hell of a lot of work and effort) turn this into a career. Best part is that I knew I would never not love photography which made it all the more important to me.
Do you have a favourite photography related memory, whether it be in front or behind the camera? I’ve taken so many photos that hold meaning to me over the past few years that it would be hard for to pick just one memory. There’s the photos I took when I was first starting out and the photography was merely an innocent way of killing time and imagining I was elsewhere. Then there are the photos I took of my friends in college writing at their desk or maybe fooling around in the canteen. There’s also the times we would skate in the local shopping centre car park on those long summer days when we had nothing else to do but skate around in circle and drink Capri Suns. But more recently I would say that it’s the photos I’ve taken with my girlfriend Poppy. These photos hold a huge meaning to me because they always remind me of how happy we are and the number of places we’ve been. We haven’t travelled the world, but we’ve been to some beautiful places where we grew up and now we travel around the Lake District taking in views that steal our breath away. It may be cheesy to some, but those moments will matter from now until I’m old and grey.
Who/What inspires you to take these wonderful photographs? There’s hundreds of ways I’m inspired to continue taking photos. The landscape itself is often what inspires me. It could be a sunrise, heavy rainfall, mountains or even a person in the street. Taking inspiration from the natural things around me is the easiest source of creativity. Every day I see a dozen photos or so posted of social media sites that spark an idea or a feeling. Seeing people just go out and live their lives the way they want with their camera really pushes me to go out and meet new people that want to create together. Again, my girlfriend Poppy (photographed below) is someone who pushes me daily. I am often my own worst critique when it comes to photography and she always pushes me to get past those creative ruts we suffer from. She is also an artist herself; her dedication and also her ability to continue to work through whatever set back she might face only ever makes me want to get better. You can find her work on instagram (@p.t.k.illustration). Lastly, I will mention my big brother. He’s travelled around the world a fair few times and seen some amazing countries and met so many people he now calls friend. His general attitude toward life, ability to push through road blocks and ever-present humour is something I will always cherish.
What kind of camera do you use? For about 80 percent of my photos I use my first ever dslr that I got 3 years ago, my Nikon d5300 with a Sigma 18-35 1.8 lens. It’s nothing too fancy but has served me well. That’s my main set up but I also shoot on two Canon film bodies; a Canon Ae1 Programme and an Elan 7. I try to get hung up on my gear anymore because it only ever stops me from doing what I want to do. It’s only if and when you’re gear stars to hold you back when you need start thinking about upgrading to new gear. Oh, and I also have two polaroid cameras for those fridge magnet memories.
What is your editing process like? What apps/programs do you use most often? Or are most of your photos 'au naturel?' Editing is something changes daily for me. I use Lightroom to edit everything, unless I need to do some major changes in Photoshop. I’ve gone through so many different editing styles it’s hard to say what my style is like. These days it is definitely more subtle changes and I like to keep a good amount of saturation in my images. Two years ago, it was the opposite. Editing for depends on the shoot, what the weather is like when I’m shooting, whether it’s harsh or soft light. It also depends on the person I may be photographing or the product…oh and also what my mood is like whilst I edit. I use VSCO to edit on my phone if I ever take anything on there.
Are there any tips you would like to give for anyone out there who would love to create similar style photos to yours? Don’t edit to copy someone else. I would be a hypocrite if I said I had never copied people. These days people are selling presets and editing tutorials everywhere. It’s a great way to learn when you’re starting out, but I would say follow your instinct of how you want your photos to look. Only you know what you want the photo to look like so take the time to learn everything you can about the software you’re using so you can work to your potential. Only ever take inspiration and advice. Never try to replicate someone else’s style because in the end it’s just slowing you down from where you could end up one day. Also try shooting on film for a week and see the results. film has influenced my style greatly over the past year because of its textures and tones.
What are some of your passions/hobbies other than photography? I like to play drums and have been doing for over 10 years. Music was my first love over photography, but I’ve put it on the backburner a little now that my photography has taken off. I try to play music when I can, but it gets harder as I get busier. I like to skateboard and snowboard when I can, I’m not great but it’s super fun. Something that goes hand in hand with my photography is writing. I find that through telling stories, writing poems or just simply telling the truth can really enlighten yourself and allows others to connect with what your creating on a more personal level. Other than that photography takes of pretty much 95 percent of my life…the other 5 percent is dedicated to my social life.
Do you have any photography related plans for this summer that you would like to share? I’m hoping to expand myself into some new grounds with the jobs I do. I’m looking to travel a little further afield to meet up with some brands face to face for the first time since usually they send their work to me. I also want to do a couple of meetups with some folk that I’ve met through Instagram. My girlfriend and I are hopefully doing a few big trips around the UK, going to places like Isle of Skye, The Trossachs and also the South Coast of England. We’ll be camping for the first time and staying in bed & breakfasts when we can if the weather gets a little rough. We’re also having a couple of international trips as well, but you’ll have to check my Instagram for those.
Who are some of your favourite photographers? Over the past couple of years Joe Greer (@ioegreer) has been one of my biggest influences on photography. His work ethic and way of shooting is something that I feel breaks away from the norm of “Instagram photography.” It creates feeling and emotion which is something I have always strived to show in my own work. Since my photography really started to grow on Instagram I’ve met loads of people through that I really wish I could meet up with and learn more about. Recently some of my favourite photographers have been Zach Leon (@zachtheleon), Felix Russell (@felixrussellsaw), Elliot Cooper (@cooperexplores), Nick Carnera (@nickcarnera), Chase Burnett (@chaseburnett_), Andrew Kearns (@andrewtkearns), Corey Wolfenbarger (@coreywolfenbarger), Ryan Sheppeck (@ryansheppeck), Shaina Bostin (@shainabostin) and many more. You can find them all on Instagram and at their websites. I’ve also got a couple of friends that I go and shoot with here in Cumbria and they all have a unique perspective on photography which is very refreshing.
Click here to check out our interview with Chase Burnett! Also, be sure to stay tuned in the coming months for our upcoming interviews with Zach Leon & Corey Wolfenbarger.
What would be your number one dream destination for a photography adventure? Recently I’ve really been wanting to visit the French and Swiss Alps. I have never seen mountains as high as the alps in person and really want to experience their grandeur in person. I don’t really have a number one destination because I want to visit a lot of places (usually at the same time when I don’t have any money.)
Which time of year is your favourite for taking photographs? Two years ago, I would have said Autumn and Winter but now I’m gonna have to say that Summer is my favourite season along with Autumn. I love being able to stay out late shooting at golden hour and getting that summer haze falling across the landscape. Autumn has always been my favourite season because of the mist and fog it brings with it.
Harry's Outro - And that’s that. A brief outlook on my short time as a photographer. It’s brought me to becoming someone I am proud to be, and I’ve had some extraordinary experiences from it. I can’t wait to see what the next projects, people and the years bring to my photography. If I had one last thing to say it’s that we all need to start pushing ourselves to be better than we think we can be but accept that you’ll fail along the way. There’s so many creative jobs and hobbies out there that it can be a struggle to think of something original. Just take your camera everywhere and shoot photos that mean something to you. That’s where the stories come from. Thanks for reading and taking an interest in what my little life as to say. Keep in touch with me @finding.a.reason.to.breathe.