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It was only about a year and a half ago, just before the start of the Amateur Photographer of the Year 2008 competition, that Steve Mepsted picked up a friend’s DSLR and felt inspired to start taking pictures again for the first time in years. A trained painter, who completed his degree in fine art in 1991, Steve’s previous experience with cameras had largely been as a recording device to store scenes and support his paintings. When he became the Amateur Photographer of the Year 2008 last month, it marked a transformation in Steve’s approach to art.
“In the past when I picked up a camera I gave little thought to technical processes,” he says, reflecting on his evolution. “The camera was a means to an end and I didn’t worry too much about exposure or sharpness. I used a camera only to help me think about composition, which I would then transfer to canvas.”
“But when I started using cameras again last year I began enjoying the technical processes and what they could do. This time around I’ve taken much more care with technique and exposure and tried to focus my creativity on the technical side of taking pictures.” It’s almost an understatement to say that Steve’s approach to APOY was painstaking. The competition is fairly gruelling, it must be said. Ten rounds with challenging briefs command a lot of time and dedication from its participants, yet Steve coped well with the pressure due to an advantage he had on his side.
“Because of my job teaching art (at London’s Kensington and Chelsea College), I’m constantly briefing students and scrutinising composition, so the monthly briefs were sort of an extension of what I was already doing,” he says. “I think that really helped me. Even though it took me the entire month to produce my entries, it didn’t feel overwhelming. It was just a matter of swallowing a bit more of my normal work habits.”
The complete interview is available in this week’s issue of Amateur Photographer (13th January 2009) or on Steve Mepsted’s website.
Date published: 12 January 2009