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Charlie Waite - Speakers' Corner - part 1 of 1

by Charlie Waite Published 01/11/2009

We don't believe there's ever been a speaker line-up quite like this before at any photo convention - anywhere. At the pioneering eight-day long 2011 gathering, our broad church of professional and aspirational photographer visitors will have a truly enormous choice of seminars to be delivered by 100 top-rated experts from across the globe. (We just wanted to make quite sure we had covered every subject under the imaging sun!)

Of course it would be impossible to produce personal profiles for every single speaker given obvious Imagemaker pagination restrictions, so we've drawn some of these key names out of the hat to give you an exclusive 'cross-section' profile snapshot. We asked them all similar questions - and here's the result.

Imagemaker: Tell us a little about your background, your first camera and photographic experience and your subsequent emergence as a pro.

CW: My father presented me with his Rolleicord and Rolleiflex and gave me my first lessons with a camera before I went to Salisbury College for a 12-month intensive course on photography.

I started out as an actor in 1968. By 1973 I found myself photographing actors, whilst I continued to pick up theatrical work wherever I could. My first real break commercially came with a commission for a book on walking in the UK. That was back in 1981.

Since then I've completed 28 books on landscape photography, plus TV and DVDs.

Why photography?

The camera is the most wonderful creative tool for landscape photography and I like to try to suspend nature in one of her most perfect performances.

I am evangelical about landscape photography and I derive great pleasure from introducing others to the craft. I own a company called Light & Land and we work with a large number of very enthusiastic and passionate photographers both in the UK and abroad.

Film or digital? Is there still a place for silver halide?

I use both. I still use film because I have got to know the full personality and character of the film I use. Digital is wonderful but I will never say farewell completely to film.

Tell us about your capture and output devices.

I like the Canon 5D and the Epson 9880 for print output is second to none.

A normal set-up though would be a Hasselblad 500cx, drum-scanned transparency and printed by me.

Bit of detail about your own studio set-up/staffing. Why (as a customer) would I choose you?

I am away quite a lot of the time but I have an excellent PA who looks after me and runs the office in my absence. She also deals with image sales which might originate either in the UK or abroad.

Thankfully people still want to acquire my photographs. I also hold a number of talks and exhibitions across the globe. Light & Land is run and managed by Jenny Ward. She is quite outstanding.

The problem with professional photographers today is...

Not enough time is allocated to learn the basics. There is far too much reliance on Photoshop and too many photographers simply lack business acumen.

What's the worst commercial error you have made to date?

I honestly don't recall anything major. If there have been any blunders I would have probably just submerged them.

How did you rectify the mistake?

Almost certainly by denial of some kind!

The lessons learnt?


You must continue to learn and be adventurous.

Are you excited by the evolution of imaging? The future: is the (imaging business) glass half full or half empty?

The glass is always half full for me. But as the industry evolves I'd like there to be far more 'seeing' and far less time spent salvaging an image on the system.

Is it getting harder or easier to make a decent living?

For me it's the same as it ever was. But in my case I am delighted that more people than ever are joining Light & Land tours.

How do you stay ahead of the game?

By trying to remind people that landscape photography is a craft and, as such, requires dedication.

How do organisations such as The Societies help?

They keep photography alive by stimulating the entire photographic community with events such as this Convention.

Why is The Societies Convention such a big deal for photographers? Is it primarily about the chance to learn from the experiences of imaging icons?

I guess so. For aspirational photographers I assume just being in the company of a very experienced practitioner at these landmark events must be, in itself, enriching.

Your own mentors (living or dead)

Ansell Adams - the greatest technician and artist in one. His devotion to his craft was second to none.

If you could pick just FIVE seminars (other than your own of course!) to attend at The Societies Convention whose workshops would you attend?

I would choose anything that is far removed from my own work. I have great admiration for photographers who work so hard.

What do you think will be the next big thing in the industry?

A huge retro surge back to photography from the 50s.

Would you want your own children to take up the reins of your empire (or have they)?

My daughter is a very successful film-maker.

Your plans for the next five years?

I want to grow Light & Land and continue to ensure that it is the market leader in photographic workshops and tours. Plus I'd love to complete another book on Britain and France..


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1st Published 01/11/2009
last update 14/02/2014 14:46:34

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