Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography?
I got into photography while I was at school, I used to “borrow” my dad’s camera to play with while he was out. When I left school I went to college to study Fine Art and Photography, but didn’t really enjoy myself so I started working with another photographer shooting glamour calendars in Spain – the perfect job for a 19 year old!! Following some pretty fun living, I ran out of money and so got a job at a local newspaper. I fell in love with News Photography and filled with enthusiasm, set about getting to the top of my career. I was incredibly lucky and progressed quickly, working around the world covering news and sports with Reuters and The Times. In 2004, I was made picture editor of The Times newspaper looking after a team of 12 photographers, 25 desk staff, sorting through 20,000 images everyday and having total responsibility for the entire visual content of one of the world’s best known newspapers. It was great fun but incredibly stressful.
In 2011, I was diagnosed with Depression, Anxiety and Insomnia. And after hiding it for two years I had a bit of breakdown and took the decision to leave The Times to follow my heart. I started shooting landscapes to help with my recovery.
The whole process of landscape photography allows me to connect with myself and to the world around me, it basically calms me down. When I take pictures I tend to sit and watch the world around me, listening and feeling to what is happening as well as watching what the light is doing.
The majority of my work is long exposure photography, this style of work reflects my search for a calm mind, I don’t worry about the technicalities of photography as much as I used to, it’s all about the emotions the subject has created within me.
Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?
I chose Fuji after struggling with heavier 5×4 and DSLR cameras. I found that I spent more time lugging my kit around and it stopped me being spontaneous. Sometimes I got to a point where I just couldn’t be bothered to go out, and when you are recovering or battling with a mental illness like me it doesn’t take much to convince you to stay at home.
I initially used the X-Pro1 with just a 14mm as I was trying to simplify my working method, which really helped. I became really enthused about my photography again. But the real turning point for me was the arrival of the X-T1. When I first held the camera it was like going back in time to my Nikon FM2, the feel balance and handling are all very similar.
However the thing I really love about the X-T1 is that it doesn’t come between me and my photography, the bigger cameras got in the way, it was always about the camera and never the connection I wanted to have with my subject, now when I shoot I barely notice the camera at all, it is literally the invisible link between what I see in front of me and what I have in my head.
Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?
Yes, shoot for yourself, not for others. Photography is an investment of quality time with yourself, so enjoy it and never compromise your own vision.
Key inspirations – What & who inspires you?
I’m inspired by the work of Turner, Monet, Michael Kenna, Valda Bailey, Rothko, David Hockney but more importantly, I’m inspired by what I see everyday around me; the light over the sea near my home in Kent, rain, waves wind all of the elements make me thankful I’m alive and able to capture what I feel when I experience them.
Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?
Be happy when you take picture, leave most of your kit at home, shoot with your least favourite lens. Don’t stand next to another photographer find your own spot if you can, but always always shoot your picture even if you are in a popular spot.
What’s next for you?
I want to continue to work with people new to photography, especially those who suffer with mental illness who may want to use it as a means to aid recovery.
7 thoughts on “X-Photographer’s Spotlight – Paul Sanders”
This is the best post to this blog thus far. Your work is wonderful, Paul. I had no idea you suffered from depression. It certainly puts your work in some context as it is truely restful, contemplative and often rather exquisite. It certainly calms the mind in a most glorious way.
You’ve certainly traversed the full photographic spectrum – from the hectic, charged environs of a major newspaper picture desk to peaceful, timeless landscapes. Wow!
– Paul Treacy.
Love your work Paul and your philosophy for photography.
Great work and thoughts Paul.. inspirational
Lovely long exposures!
Fantastic pictures Paul, I wish I was so far, but I’m trying, thanks for joining. regards, peter
Great blog, depression is a hidden illness. Your photographs are amazing. Thanks for sharing with us
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