The following is a copy of an interview with Ray for the site : Exhibitions Without Walls in 2012 on his return from China.
Ray Wise, Photographer, London, United Kingdom
EWW: On your website you comment “I have an eye for anything cool to shoot.” From your perspective, can you elaborate on “anything cool to shoot?” What does that mean?
Ray: Art is Cool.. And anything interesting is art.. therefore from a composition point of view a bland scene can become a flourish of life from a different angle. Something that is inane can certainly become interesting given the right perspective. I try and find cool places and make arty perspectives of these places.. That’s my aim – something to make the viewer step in the frame.
EWW: Once in a while you read or hear some comment that photography cannot be fine art and that photography can only be a documentation of an event in time. What are your thoughts on this?
Ray: I guess to answer that you have to ask yourself what exactly is art? I’d like that served on a plate please.. My answer is simple – and it is “Interesting” – fact; anything interesting is art.. If a photo is interesting, it certainly classifies as art. Some photos express deep feelings or have amazing clarity and this you could say is ‘fine art’. However, we are not here to be compared with paintings or sculptures etc – we have our own style – people find photography interesting – that’s enough for me.
EWW: Assuming that you believe that photography can be fine art, when does photography move from being simply a documentation of an event or place and move into being a work of fine art?
Ray: Again the question could be through back regarding fine art – as to what is fine art – are there rules etc.. However, as I said before I can certainly get emotional about photographs – some are certainly more moving than others and if you can stir someone’s soul, you are getting close to what most appreciate as fine art.
EWW: Tell us a little bit about the professional training you have done?
Ray: At photography I’m completely self-taught. From an early age I was pretty good at drawing but could never convey my thoughts exactly. Photoshop helps me transfer my thoughts into my images very nicely. I’m trained in PS to a moderate level and I have self-taught myself since that time.. Basically I’m not keen on learning by the book – I’d rather reinvent it.
EWW: Your photography covers a wide range of subject matter from abstracts to people. It would seem that subject matter is less important than other things. Is that correct?
Ray: Yes – it’s true I like to photograph a variety of things – however, I do this to tone my skills and learn new tricks I can try at my favourite subjects; Landscape and Architecture – or both. I prefer to be outdoors and to me, composition is the most important thing.
EWW: If that is correct, then what inspires you in your photography?
Ray: Landscapes inspire me. A simple answer – I see, I love, I want to take my version of everyones view and give people something that excites them. I’m very passionate about my photography. I get up at 2 or 3am to get a sunrise – I walk or travel for miles – you can’t measure this sort of thing, inspiration to me are visually exciting vistas and the temptation to find new perspectives.
EWW: Do you use film or digital? If not digital, why? If you do use digital, how has that affected the way you do photography?
Ray: I used to use film – I gave it up as soon as DSLRs were on the market.. Digital photography helped me practice without the expense and that was important to me.. I found it easier to process my own images too with the aid of software. I’m not adverse to Film, I just find Digital cheaper and quicker – you can’t really argue with that.
EWW: Do you have a certain style that shows up in most of your work?
Ray: I’m not all about a certainly style. I certainly don’t process images looking to get a certain finish – it doesn’t work like that. However, I’m told my work is easy to spot which was a nice compliment and I’ve had a few people say that.
Basically I’m looking at powerful perspectives – very wide but not fisheye views.. Depth – plenty of depth and usually a lead in up to 2/3 of the image or so.. Clarity – that’s important to me as well – especially when you see a large print of your work – details are even more important then..
EWW: For individuals entering into the world of Photography, what equipment would you advise them to acquire? Are their any pieces of equipment that they “must have” to be successful?
Ray: Whenever I’ve taken people out in training groups I get asked this question a lot. It’s a simple answer though – you need a well composed frame. Any DSLR will give you a good result but it’s your eye that is the most important thing. Light and shadow can change a subject from various angles so move around to see what difference it makes.. Start basic – photography can be an expensive beast so make sure it’s right for you first – you can always upgrade later. I’ve seen amazing pictures from a mobile phone that have been composed brilliantly.. Expensive cameras are for pro because of their format and the clients require this and remember too that a pro gets paid for their photos.
EWW: What would your advice be to someone that is just beginning his or her professional career in photography?
Ray: Depending on your choice of subject – ie anything from Weddings to Sports photography… You do need the right equipment – you’d best get in touch with your bank manager at this point. If you are ‘becoming’ a pro then you already have equipment and the knowledge of what’s good and what’s not for your style.
Stick to your guns – if you have a certain style and you are getting work – stick to it – you will never please everyone – but whatever is working, works. Stick to it.
EWW: What else would you like other individuals to know about you as a photographer?
Ray: As a photographer and in fact as a person I’m a bit of a loner. I work better on my own – I cover more ground that way. I hate holding people up and dragging on about this scene and that vision – some find this boring and tedious.. Personally I’m happiest doing what I do on my own..