Steve Gosling is a multi award-winning photographer specialising in landscape and travel. Shooting predominantly in monochrome, he believes a photograph should convey so much more than what the camera sees.
For Steve Gosling the art of photography is that of communicating mood and emotion. ‘I call myself a photo-impressionist rather than a photo-realist,’ he says, describing how his landscapes are as much about ‘what I feel, if not more than simply what I see.’
Having sold his first image three decades ago, he gradually evolved from fitting freelance photography around the day job, to being one of the UK’s leading full-time professionals. He routinely picks up awards in the Black+White Photographer of the Year competition, while his most recent exhibition of landscapes, Travelling Light, was shown at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, as well as the Olympus Gallery in Bermondsey, London.
Steve says that when he is looking at a subject ‘I don’t just consider what is appealing to me visually. I’m also assessing my emotional response.’ He thinks his most powerful images come from when he feels passionate about his subject. ‘If I’m not emotionally stirred by what’s in front of the camera, there’s a good chance that the images will lack impact.’ This dialogue between the photographer and his subject is a critical factor in the success of any image, and it’s ‘one where I hope the landscape has the louder voice.’
Having been in the business for some 30 years, Steve comes from the school of film, where the name of the game was to get everything right in the camera. He says he prefers to control his exposure range in the field using filters, and while he’s happy to spend time at a computer screen in postproduction, he prefers working with the landscape itself to produce his imagery. Currently occupied on a project with local woodland a stone’s throw from his north Yorkshire home, he really appreciates being able to make the most of promising weather conditions as and when they occur. Although he’s photographed as far afield as Antarctica, such proximity to base means he can respond to the challenges of producing a body of work ‘taken throughout the seasons to show a place in its many guises.’
Steve’s distinctive style comes from the combination of the graphic and minimalist. He likes to keep his compositions as straightforward as possible: ‘I try to apply the KISS principle (‘‘keep it simple stupid’’) every time I compose an image.’ Which means the photographer’s work is relatively easy for others to identify, despite the fact that ‘it’s hard to recognise your own style. It’s something that creeps up on you, takes you by surprise and evolves. That’s a good thing if we are to develop as artists.’
When it comes to kit, Steve is a massive fan of Olympus cameras and lenses, having used them his entire career. ‘When shooting film, I used OM-1s and OM-4s. I loved the small size, build quality and sharp Zuiko lenses.’ He adds that over the years he’s also owned ‘the original Olympus Trip 35, RC and RD rangefinder compacts and the innovative XA.’ The reason for such dedication to the brand is that ‘Olympus has always offered a great combination of style and quality.’
Although Steve has worked with every Olympus digital camera the company has ever produced, today he’s shooting with the new E-M1 Mark II, which he describes as ‘a joy to use. Not only is it small, light and well built, but it also feels good in the hand and the files it produces are incredibly detailed.’
One of his favourite combinations is to use the E-M1 Mark II with the 12-100mm Pro zoom lens, which he took with him on a recent trip to Antarctica. He particularly likes the image stabilisation system that allows him to shoot handheld for much longer exposure times than he ‘could ever previously have dreamed of, besides being the sharpest Olympus lens I’ve used.’
Meanwhile Steve thinks there isn’t a magic formula for what makes a landscape work. ‘There are no hard and fast rules. I often find myself drawn to photographing in what most people call ‘‘bad’’ weather. It’s the mood and emotion of a location that will tempt me to take out the camera and communicate with the viewer.’
Article featured in Professional Photo and Black & White Photography Magazine in April 2017