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Photographer James Gordon

Self-taught photographers are an increasing trend in the last five years, thanks in part to the gift of digital cameras. The digital age has made it easier for those who possess the gift to spot that perfect photo- or sometimes known as the ‘eye’ the ability to see what another missed.

James Gordon

“Art in Action” is very happy to feature Scotland’s “James Gordon.”

James was born and raised in a small market town on the south east coast of Scotland called Haddington.  Haddington lies approximately  32 km (20 miles) east of Edinburgh. Today Haddington is a small town with a population of less than 9,000, although at one time it was the fourth largest city in Scotland, after Aberdeen, Roxburgh and Edinburgh.

James followed in his Father’s footsteps and began his career in construction as a plasterer and ornamental cornice restorer right after finishing school. In fact he spent 26 years in the industry.

“Then 5 years ago I took up photography and the hobby became the passion which became my life” James told MSM “I have sold to most major countries in the world now.”

James is also an award-winning photographer who has decided to sell his photos on Facebook, liking the intimate feeling of getting to know his customers. (The link to view his work is at the bottom of this article.)

Today, James still lives and works in Scotland, just outside Edinburgh, which isn’t far from his hometown. Let’s get to know James even more…

MSM- In general, during a session, how many pictures would you say you take to find “the right one”?

JG: Usually when I go out I just seem to be able to see composition all over the place , but then again  sometimes I go out all day , maybe wrong area or been told there was things of interest there and come back with nothing cause I just didn’t see it. I get from a lot  of people; “oh you should go here or there it would  make a beautiful pic” , so I go take a look and nope  they see a vast landscape nothing special catching  the eye- no line in , no foreground , you just need  to have a certain perspective, that ‘eye of  life’ I think .

MSM Are you a self-taught photographer or did you have a mentor that showed you the ropes?

By James Gordon

JG: I am completely self-taught, been doing photography for around 5 years now. I did have a 35mm SLR years  ago that my wife bought for me and went out shooting  black & whites , but my home got broken into and all  my gear was stolen, so gave it up. I was about 20 years old then- and so 25 years on I thought give it another go.

MSM: How do you decide on locations & subjects?

JG: I don’t usually make a conscious decision about where I go to take my shots, sometime I can be driving  along and screech to a halt and reverse because  something has caught my eye worthy of a shot , and portrait shots are usually just anyone who is  willing to have them done, although my street urban  portraits I usually try to choose someone with  character , a face that tells a story. : I do sometimes feel really excited when I spot something and can’t wait to get there to get the shot-  as if it’s going to disappear in a second and I will miss it.

MSM: Sometimes when I am shooting photography it feels very spiritual and photo ops simply present themselves as a gift….do you ever feel that way and do you think there is such a thing as someone really having a “natural eye” for photography?

JG: Yes very much so. Definitely there is such a thing as an eye for photography, I don’t know how many times I’ve told people; ‘to compose the shot balance the shot , take the shot , then get your camera out.’

MSM: What or when do you choose to shot something in B&W over color?

JG: I always shoot in colour , then decide whether or  not it will look good in grey scale as opposed to the original , not  everything works in black n white, but you learn what has the depth to be brought out more from black  n white then in colour pictures.

MSM: How do you as a photographer know if photos are really art? Or if people are just being nice? At what point did you evolve from a person who takes photos to a photographer and then to an artist?

JG: I think the progress from hobby photographer to pro artist photographer is gradual but quite natural for some, you learn to see the art before shooting , I usually image a shot framed and hanging on a wall  before even taking the shot , if i don’t see that I leave it alone.

By James Gordon

MSM: Before you put your work “out there”. Do you have it critiqued by someone else, or do you just go with what your heart tells you is right?

JG: I used to always have my wife look over all my work before I let anyone else see it but being separated  now , I usually just convert the RAW’s and I know  now what will be sellable or not.

MSM: Do you ever find yourself in a “photo funk”, and, if so, how do you get out of it?

JG: well I’m presuming you mean by photo funk , that you get tired of it and bored a while. For sure I do now and then but then you catch a glimpse of a stunning sky from the window and out you go, and the first capture of the evening , gets you back on track  again.

MSM: What is the ONE lasting impression you want to leave in your photos?

JG: The lasting impression I want to leave in my photos is the feeling of actually being there for the viewer, feeling it, smelling it and feeling like they can walk right in there and see it real for  themselves.

MSM: What words of advice, would you give a photo enthusiast who is thinking of being a professional photographer?

JG: Advice I would give anyone wishing to take up photography is this: there are no rules what so ever in photography, only guidance to what you want to achieve in your images, the old adage; ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ is perfectly true, so  never let anyone  tell you that your images are wrong , no image is wrong , its either liked or not

MSM: Do you think a pro photographer should have their own studio?

JG: ha-ha my studio primarily is the great outdoors, but if you’re going down the portrait genre of photography, then some equipment is needed, but my  portrait work is done using natural light from a window, although I have recently got one or two bits n bobs for studio portrait work.

MSM: Why do you think it is that most photographers gravitate towards one theme more than another? Examples, street photographer, landscapes, nature/birds.

JG: I think it’s just a personal preference what genre you choose and stick to. Me? I like trying most styles and genres, being self-taught it helped teach me about light , shadow perspective and composition by shooting all genres of photography that may have otherwise been missed if I stayed to one thing like landscape work.

MSM: What camera would you suggest for the novice, intermediate, and advanced picture taker/ photographer? Other equipment that is a ‘must?’

JG: I think for the novice photographer, any pocket  point and shoot will do , because really the way I see it is that you must teach your natural lenses (eyes) to prepare and take a shot , ie , comp, persp, balance again,, then progress to maybe a larger scale fixed lens like Sony or something , and  then id jump to a Canon DSLR, and by then you should  really be shooting completely Manual mode on Raw.

MSM: Last thoughts?

By James Gordon

JG: Never ever let anyone tell you that  they can take better images than you only because  they have a better more expensive camera, it’s all in  the eye so no matter if you shoot with a Canon 1Ds mrk 111 or a mobile phone , you need to be able to see it first 🙂

To contact James and view his work, please visit:



2 responses

  1. ian mcmillan

    Terrific article and praise is well earned…I like your “down home” attitude and the advice that one should respect themselves and their work…bravo!!!

    April 30, 2011 at 6:26 pm

  2. Pingback: ART IN ACTION: Eleanor Leonne Bennett « mainstreetmag

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