Kirsty Garland is a rock music photographer who has had her work featured on album covers and various music publications such as Thrash Hits, Independent Leeds & Relic. She took time away from this to test out the Neptune Convertible Art Lens System, revealing a softer side to her photography.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into photography?
Both my parents dabbled in amateur photography so I always had access to their old SLRs. On the rare occasions I get to shoot film nowadays I still use the Pentax Spotmatic that belonged to my dad. He picked it up in Japan during his years in the merchant navy where he had a sneaky side-line buying Japanese cameras to sell back home, but he loved the Spotmatic so much that he kept it. As for my own photography, I’ve always photographed whatever it is I find interesting. For most of my career that’s been predominantly music photography, but nowadays I also enjoy areas that offer more by way of creativity – or simply a change from ‘moody band’ press shots!
How was it shooting with the Neptune lenses?
I was pleasantly surprised by the Neptune Convertible Art Lenses. When you’re accustomed to carting cumbersome lenses around it’s natural to be suspicious of a product that’s claiming to do basically the same thing at a fraction of the size. However I found them to be crisp, easy to use, and a doddle to swap over. And while manual focus isn’t suitable for certain types of fast moving photography, in this capacity having complete control over where the focus landed in every shot was enjoyable.
What do you love about film photography?
There’s a dreamy, nostalgic quality to film photography – perhaps heightened by having had the digital revolution happen in our lifetimes. It's easy to associate those soft, oddly saturated images with childhood, or seemingly mysterious earlier eras. Due to time and lighting necessities I shot digital this time – factors that are sadly often the case in commercial work. However when the opportunity arise to shoot film, I love the care it requires, and the aspect of expectation in waiting to get your prints back.
In your opinion, what makes the perfect portrait?
For me, the perfect portrait is one that creates a connection between the viewer and the photograph -whether it’s catching an unguarded moment or expression in your subject or simply evoking an emotion through use of colour, context or composition. In a nutshell, I like portraits that use a mixture of the familiar and the unusual to transport the viewer to a time, place or feeling.
Have you had any difficult or challenging situations throughout your photography career?
Photography is full of challenging situations, and half the time my job is to problem-solve. Sometimes that means trying to location scout for last minute London shoots from my home in Leeds (I'm a big fan of Google street view!) Or sometimes it's more practical considerations, such as how to shoot a model in a bath of red liquid without it dying either the model or the bath red. In that particular case the solution was several bottles of Strawberry Ribena.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to become a professional portrait photographer?
Stick with it. Unless you're very lucky, you'll most likely have to do a lot of the kind of commercial work that isn't always wildly exciting. But keep coming back to styles and subjects that you love, and hopefully one day that will be what you get paid to do.
To see more of Kirst's work visit her website kirstygarland