When did you first become interested in photography?
Ross Willsher: I became interested in photography about ten years ago — more as an admirer and observer than a photographer. Even three years ago I knew very little about the technical aspects of photography so my journey and development have been intense and the learning curve extremely steep for me. However, it has also been extremely rewarding. I cannot imagine doing anything else.
Were you self-taught or did you have a formal education in photography?
I have just spent the past 2 1/2 years at college studying one evening a week for my City & Guilds in Photo Imaging. The majority of the coursework consisted of assessed personal projects and these enabled me to develop my skills and push myself. I made a conscious effort to embark on projects that would require me to try out new techniques and styles.
Which photographers have influenced your work?
The photographers who have inspired me are Annie Leibovitz, Mario Testino, Diane Arbus and Henri Cartier-Bresson. I also love Steve McCurry. McCurry’s use of colors, tones and natural light is incredible.
You’ve captured some great street scenes in these images. Tell us a little bit about these photos and your approach as a photographer.
I used to have a very stereotypical idea of who or what a street photographer was. I never thought street photography would be something I would be good at. I’m not from the city, I’m not an outrageously confident person and I always thought of it as a genre for extremely artsy and conceptual shooters. Initially I started photographing street life and taking street portraits as a way of building my confidence, reacting quicker to events taking place in front of my lens and developing my story-telling skills.
Some of these images seem to catch a single moment in a person’s life or the spirit of a location while others remind me of how confident I have become photographing strangers. London is a great place for me to photograph people; there is so much diversity and culture. I live just outside of London so I feel like I have an outsider’s perspective of a place that is also very familiar to me.
What do you enjoy shooting the most and why?
People are my favorite subject — whether street portraits, studio shoots or lifestyle shoots and events. Taking images that really capture a particular aspect of someone’s character is something I will never tire of.
If you had one piece of advice for a novice photographer, what would it be?
Be proud of the mistakes you make even the ones you make several times. This means you are pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and getting better at what you do.
Ross Willsher hails from Essex, a hamlet approximately thirty minutes outside of London. An accomplished photographer with a degree in psychology, Ross has worked with children with special needs for ten years so he has a gift for making people feel comfortable in front of the camera. As such, street photography comes naturally for Ross. For more information about Ross, click here. All images © Ross Willsher.