The honest and raw nature of Joseph’s work is a reflection of his profound life experiences. Check his story out below.
Say hello to Joseph:
Where are you from? Where have you been?
I’m from The Forest of Dean in Cinderford (UK), a magical place filled with endless forests and photographic locales. It even inspired Tolkien in multiple areas of Lord of The Rings AND Star Wars was filmed ten minutes from my house here in “Puzzlewood”.
Where have I been? Growing up, I’ve been lucky enough to travel pretty heavily. Sri Lanka, Kuala Lumpur, Egypt, Australia, Austria, Germany, France, Italy, America (Florida, Chicago), England, Wales, Turkey, Spain, probably a few more – it’s hard to remember since I was so young for most of them.
What’s your favorite place in the world?
When I raise that eyepiece to my face and push the shutter. That blink of an eye snapshot in time is where you experience hope, excitement, fear, waiting on anxious breath to see the outcome of your mind and memory combined.
That fragment in time, insignificant in it’s length, is my favourite moment in time and my favourite place in the world. I feel everything, yet it’s so quick, I feel nothing. That moment, I am more connected and less connected to everything around me. My favourite place in the world is the human mind.
What’s on your “bucket list” of ideas to create?
I genuinely hope one day to put all of the years of my depression into an image or set of images as self portraits to help try and visualise something truly exemplary in both artistic personal expression, but also proficient enough technically, to offer something of value to the world. I want to find a way to help people.
How would you describe your visual style?
Do you get photographer’s block? If so, how do you overcome that?
I think blocks are common in all artists, but more so in those who don’t actively create each day and search for inspiration. How to overcome it? Pinterest, Workshops, Movies, Facebook Pages and Groups.
You also produce lessons in editing and photography through YouTube videos – tell us more about that aspect of your career.
Teaching is a big passion of mine, I love sharing what I know to help other people get out there and start putting their vision into life. You live once. If I didn’t have the drive I did to do what I can to find out what I need to progress, I would be genuinely swallowed up by self defeatism.
If I can help people learn something new and keep them rolling forward, I want to. The world’s happiness is more important than my success as an individual photographer. I will not be remembered for my pictures, but I hope I can drive a movement of sharing and love that will.
Tell us about your career. How did you get into it?
It was born out of frustration and wonder. I’m a musician and have put 13 years of my life into building a career out of it. Ultimately, it came down to three things – lack of the right team, lack of a decent industry, and lack of money to promote my work.
After taking out a personal loan with my father from the bank, we took on a five-man debt and hoped to find success through planning, advertising, touring, etc. Unfortunately, one of the members joined the Military and loved it so much, the band idea dissolved for him. I respect his decision – we haven’t spoken for years.
The long and short of it is that I’m still paying that debt off today, years later, by myself, while my father hosts the bulk of it.
It’s life, it’s a lesson. I swapped over to photography out of a love for film and the whole process appearing to be easier than filming.
As time has gone on, it became far more obvious to me that films and pictures are totally different worlds – what looks great in one, looks terrible in the other, oftentimes. Within 18 months in photography, I’m writing for one of the world’s biggest photography blogs (DIYPhotography), running my own YT channel, helping photographers from around the world with workshops, sorting out my own workshop with a prestigious London-based Studio and working with multiple companies (PixaPro and Gravity Backdrops) to help promote their brands to the world because I just genuinely love their gear.
Absolutely no doubt in my mind, that my journey in music helped my mindset and approach to photography, business-wise. But 100% without a doubt, I think the photography world destroys the musical one with regards to amateurs getting the opportunity to progress and make connections.
You can message anyone at any point and you can almost guarantee a response. That just doesn’t happen in the music world. You can’t message Beyonce, Opeth, Metallica, etc. and expect a response directly, let alone get opportunities to work for them easily.
What types of photography do you do?
Professionally, it’s conceptual portraiture, though I’m a big fan of composites, landscapes, etc. I shoot everything, just not publicly (I want to be hired as a portrait photographer).
What was the moment you decided to become a photographer?
There wasn’t one, it just happened. I still don’t even know if I am a photographer. I’m just following my nose and seeing what happens.
What is the strangest situation you’ve ever faced as a photographer?
Being told it was intimidating watching me work because they felt like they were less of a photographer in comparison. I just can’t begin to comprehend that. I don’t consider myself someone who is particularly that good, I’m just having fun and spreading extreme passion out there to everyone.
So to be told that my knowledge, approach, and vision was capable of making someone else (who is a SERIOUSLY great photographer) made them feel like they were “less” or perhaps “not as real” or something…I just didn’t know how to process that. I still don’t.
I take great pride in learning and teaching, sharing and loving. The last thing I’d ever want to do is make someone feel like I was superior. I really want to prove the exact opposite of that, that if I can do it, you can too!
They understand that and I know they didn’t say it in a reflection on me, they said it based on an insecurity in themselves. But in a way, it broke my heart to hear it. I’ve been there – self-defeatist, negative, non-believing. It’s a hard path to walk. But a necessary one for people like me.
What has been your biggest setback as a photographer?
Lack of self-belief.
What are your three favorite photos you’ve taken?
This was one of the first shots I ever took with strobes and flash at the start of 2015, and to this day, I still feel like I captured something truly special there. It’s a picture of a previous partner of mine that I loved very much; this reminds me of the great times we had! It was also a huge milestone in technical proficiency for me.
This is a picture of my dear friend, Simon. He passed away from his battle with cancer just last month (July 14th 2016), and the thing that strikes me as so odd about this is, I remember cracking a joke, “imagine if the pictures I took were so bad, you died instantly” (Simon had a fantastically dark sense of humour).
We laughed about it and he died 1 year and 1 day later after the photos were taken. I like to feel he kept going on purpose to stop me from being able to say it was exactly a year later. Hahaha! Man I miss him. Not many like Simon, not many at all.
I remember saying to him something along the lines of “close your eyes and think of all the years you’ve suffered with depression, how you felt with cancer, how it’ll feel to leave everything behind etc. Open your eyes.” That’s how he looked.
Pissed off, isolated. Which meant the world to us because he was a man full of love, passion, dedication, and sharing. For him to break his happiness for a picture to stand the test of time in our hearts forever, was a selfless act. A true hero.
Chuck. I literally have no words for this. It’s B.E.C to me. If you want to know what that means. Message me.
Photography is competitive. How do you stand out?
Do I stand out? How do I answer that? I guess all I can say is, find what you love and do it. Do it hard. Harder than anyone else and network. There are people out there who will love you and your work and will help you stand out.
What’s the best advice you can think of for someone just starting in photography?
Network. Every event, every workshop, pour yourself and your money into experience and education (CreativeLive is one of the best resources online). Read blogs (DIYPhotography is a great one, I wouldn’t write for them if I thought it wasn’t!).
Skip university, it’s the biggest waste of time for arts in the world. Don’t spend 30k to sit in a room and learn about cameras. Spend 30k investing directly in yourself, your own education (workshops, events, assisting, online classes, etc) and advertising. Study business, marketing, network, and again, network.
What is the best thing a model can do to make the most of a photoshoot?
Show up, do her job. Sounds brutal, but it’s true. Understand the vibe of the job and photographer – some want fun, some want seriousness. Click into that vibe as soon as you understand what it is and just rock it. Educate yourself on posing. No matter what, above all, have fun!
What was your most memorable photoshoot?
Probably the one with Simon above. It was the first time I shot something for memory and not artistic gratification.
What’s the funniest story you have from being a photographer?
Haha! Shooting at a lake at 4am with a couple of apple boxes and a model called Luu Wooley. I spent an hour making these wooden boxes waterproof, turned out that they floated. Model was over my left shoulder and I was bent over trying to catch these boxes floating around the water in the rain at 4am.
She was screaming her head off and laughing hard, I was doing the same hahaha!
If you could photograph anything in the world, what would it be?
I’ll let you know when I know!
Who was the most unforgettable model you’ve ever met and why?
Probably Raki Model. He owns 150+ suits and came to this shoot with a suitcase full of ties, hahahaha!!!
Who do you want to give a shoutout to?
Models: Luu Wooley, Kennedy Elise, Ava Castle, Pip Pipkins.
MUA: Jess Wright MUA (rocks!).
Retouchers: Stefan Kohler, Conny Walstrom, Jordan Hartley, Natalia Taffarel, Pratik Naik, David Neilands.
Photographers: Clinton Lofthouse, Aad Sommeling, Richard Terborg, Ferhan Khan, Clay Cook, Stas Pushkarev, Dmitry Rogozhkin, Jeff Rojas, Joey L.
There are always endless people I’ll forget and it pains me to know I’ll look back on this in a week and think, “SHIT” I forgot XYZ.
What’s your philosophy when it comes to being a great photographer?
Be honest, study, shoot for passion.
What’s a deal breaker for you when deciding to do a shoot?
Can I afford it? Do I have time for it? What does it add to my life or portfolio?
How do you bring out your model’s personality in a shoot?
Never really analysed it to be honest. It’s just a natural thing of finding out how they like to work and going with it.
What do you think is the biggest thing holding you back in your photography?
Money. Time, Self Belief.
How do you express yourself through your photography?
By doing it.
What’s the most inspiring photo you’ve ever seen?
I can’t even begin to answer that. I see inspiring photos every day. Here’s the most recent one I found, shot by the incredible Stas Pushkarev.
What photography advice do you wish you had when you were first starting out?
Networking is the most important thing you’ll ever do besides investing in yourself.
What are 3 tips you have for aspiring photographers?
Network. Study. Shoot.
What are 3 tips you have for aspiring Models?
Network. Study. Be shot.
What kind of gear do you have? What’s your favorite and why?
Sony A7ii, range of old film lenses from 28mm up to 135mm and a modern 85mm f/1.4 Sony GM. I also shoot with Pixapro lights, stands, modifiers and Gravity Backdrops.
Favourite? Every piece of gear I own has it’s place, I only use what I need.
What’s one lighting tip you’d like to share with other photographers?
Big light = soft light, small light = hard light. Look at the work you enjoy and study the shadows, are they soft or clear cut? Work with a light source that is the size you like the work of.
What’s one post-processing tip you’d like to share with other photographers?
Shoot to nail it in camera, use smoke, dress colour, location, etc. Post-Processing is a powerful tool that you can use to enhance things, but try not to rely on it too much.
You can do almost anything with Curves and a brush.
Do you have any projects you’d like to show off?
Yes! Check my website: http://www.josephparry.co.uk
What is your most life-changing event?
Being cheated on or left for somebody else in every relationship I’ve ever had. It teaches you more than you can ever imagine. Should you choose to allow it.
What has photography done for you as a person? How has it changed you?
It’s put me in the company of some of the best people in the world. The result of that should be obvious.
What’s something no one knows about you that you’d like to share?
Nothing. I’m an open book. I prefer communication and friendships.
Who’s your biggest hero in your life?
Simon. He changed my life and helped me deal with depression. RIP brother.
What’s one of your biggest fears?
That all my years of self-torture, beatings and abuse lead to no further understanding of depression and I fail to help anyone else progress through difficult times in life. Alongside, being a failure at communicating.
What will you be doing five years from now?
Can anyone answer this? Hahaha 😀
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Believed in myself.
What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?
Kiss someone I felt extreme love for without them expecting it. Just like in a movie.
For anyone that wants to get in touch with Joseph, here’s some contact information:
Joseph, thanks so much for the real and candid interview!
If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.