Ollie Taylor has always been a night owl, ever since his teens; a typical 9-5 just never suited his sleeping patterns ever since leaving school. The world is a different place when the sun goes down, and just as beautiful, with far fewer people wandering around it, therefore, perfect for the landscape photographer; although he indicates he is now more of a twilight and nightscape photographer than landscaper.
I started shooting landscapes around 12 years ago, aged 22, on 35mm and 120 roll cameras. I had no clear cut career, nor real direction in life and kind of fell into photography. I became mesmerised by a few really basic photos I had shot on holiday on disposable cameras. I became hooked on the idea of trying to produce this type of imagery to a higher standard. And before I really knew it, decided I wanted to become a landscape photographer.
Unfortunately as I researched and read on the subject day and night, I became disheartened by reading articles by numerous professionals within the industry. At that period, there seemed to be so much negativity surrounding the profession, with certain photographers’ incomes dropping like wild-fire as the era of the “digital SLR” gripped the world. Professional quality photography was being made easier to achieve, and also available to the masses without having to have as much technical know-how, patience, deep pockets for professional film and development etc etc, and this was clearly taking its toll as buyers were able to source images for less.
Although I had work published, run exhibitions, and had my images accepted on many leading stock agency websites, my inexperience within the freelance industry led me to doubt myself and my possible long term prospects as a landscape photographer. I decided I needed a more stable career and studied for a degree in architecture. Looking back, if only I had persevered with the photography as, in reality, I had become semi-pro without even realising it!
I worked full time as a stock photographer for a period between 2006 and 2008, and lived and travelled in Greece for around 18 months. Income dropped and I returned to Devon in England working within an architectural practice, I still practiced photography at that time and generated an income from it, but creatively, it took a back seat. At one point, I even sold all my gear and was without a camera for a few months, whilst moving to Dorset from Devon for work through the 2010 recession.
I quickly became very disheartened with architecture, there was no freedom; I’m not cut out for a 9-5, I’m not workshy, I work 24-hour days sometimes, but I’m not a robot either. And furthermore, there was certainly no freedom of artistic expression within the practices I worked for. I found it mundane, robotic, and continuous, I had to find an exit strategy.
I still had a little stock income rolling in and a huge portfolio. I didn’t submit work to magazines or any other commercial outfit for around a decade, I would see my work used in places but to no credit as it was sold though agencies, this was painful at times. I reverted back to my dream and started working at freelancing; I have built it up further over the last three years and I now work as a full time photographer.
My night work really started to take shape in 2011, I had made the pilgrimage to Iceland to shoot aurora, I realised how much I missed the night (it must have been all the late night parties a decade prior!). The landscape within the night fascinated me, and still fascinates me, along with my passion for the outdoors, and landscapes, it re-lit the artistic fire and opened new doors photographically. I remember buzzing out shooting in 2012 like I had just found photography again and I knew I had to make it my niche.
I had always shot a little night photography, but it had no direction. Upon returning from Iceland I stumbled upon a little known landscape and astrophotographer from the States, his night landscape work inspired me to start shooting night skies and landscape here in the UK. As I perfected techniques over the next couple of years I slowly started to release some of my work to clients and the wider audience. It was well received, so much so that around 50 per cent of my 2015 years’ workflow planning is mapped out around night-based projects; another 20/30 percent of the years’ workflow to be consumed with providing night photography tuition and selling nightscape artwork. My digital and printed calendars are swamped with moon phases, optimal dates for dark skies, super moons and planetary positions, it’s out of control!
This leaves little time, if any for general landscapes by the time all the admin is thrown into the mix. However, I will always find time to shoot the twilight hours though, I love the last light just before nightfall, the blue hues of civil, nautical, and astro twilight! I find myself working from twilight through to twilight in the summer months and quite often become too tired to wait for the rising sun, favouring the drive home or curling up in my camper van and getting some rest ready to do it all over again. Working from twilight until twilight led me to trademark Twilight2Twilight as a brand along with a logo as the banner for my workshops and the tuition I offer.
Up until the middle of last year my night photography still lacked purpose, it certainly had momentum, but lacked a cause, it did not really have purpose other than to emphasise the fact I was slowly becoming a nightscape photographer as opposed to a landscape photographer. This year it has real purpose, I have set some over ambitions projects that will take me well into 2016. I feel burnt out from the crazy sleeping patterns of last year, and a winter chained to the desk to try and get on top of everything; it’s all almost in place, and I’m ready to start my mission. I’m sure my drive and passion will kick in during the first few days back in the field. Watch this space, I’m only just warming up! [Official Website]
Twilight2Twilight Workshops and Tuition
Ollie runs night sky and landscape astrophotography workshops alongside offering general landscape tuition within the Dorset area and across the wider UK.
The Art Asylum Gallery
Ollie has a permanent display of some of his newest work, printed on an array of innovative media, located at the Art Asylum Gallery, Brewers Quay, Weymouth, Dorset. The gallery is not your typical art gallery. The gallery displays an array of different art practices, its one of the most off the hook and unique galleries in the south west of the UK, a ‘must’ visit if you’re in Dorset; in fact if you’re on an art trail visiting galleries in the south west of the UK and you have not visited the Art Asylum, you have missed out!
You can also find permanent exhibitions at the Harbour Lights on the Isle of Portland and The Good Life Café in Weymouth, Dorset.