Welcome to the latest interview in this series that explores how virtual photography is viewed in the eyes of people across other creative disciplines by speaking to established real-world photographers about their thoughts on the subject.
Having heard from former game director and urban photographer, Liam Wong last time out, I'm thrilled to be able to chat with UK-based professional landscape photographer, Pete Rowbottom, for this instalment. With a long-term love of photography that dates back to a Minolta X300 SLR 35 mm film camera, Pete's true passion is for landscapes, and his stunning captures from locations across the world have seen him receive various accolades including the 2018 Landscape Photographer of the Year and Flickr's Top 25 Photos of 2020.
Holding a firm belief that you never stop learning about photography, Pete is always brushing up his skills, hosts regular tuition workshops to help others learn, and recently collaborated with Sony & Kojima Productions on a documentary about how real-life landscape photography translates into the Death Stranding photo mode. So let's find out what impressions this new art form has made.
- TROMSO SUNRISE // PETE ROWBOTTOM -
Let's begin with your own journey into photography, how did it all start?
I used to visit the Highlands of Scotland a lot in the 1980'S, I used to see all these beautiful big prints of landscapes for sale, they were great, I wanted to be able to produce these too.
What is it about landscape photography in particular that appeals to you the most?
It's a all about capturing a moment in time and recreating it for others to see, it's a very calming experience too.
Your photography tuition workshops are a great way to help people find their own inspirations, what is the one piece of advice would you always give to someone?
Don't rush, think about what you are doing, rushing will cause you to lose focus on the job in hand.
That's a great point and actually an area that photo modes have a real advantage with their luxury of time.
- LÓMAGNÚPUR // PETE ROWBOTTOM -
You have previously said that contests open up new opportunities to share and learn; what's the best thing you learnt and did being named Landscape Photographer of the Year change anything?
I think the main thing was getting appreciation of your work on a much larger scale, knowing you are heading in the right direction, and of course the coverage that winning LPOTY brings is enormous.
Another recent project you were involved in was the Death Stranding photo mode documentary; was that your first introduction to virtual photography and what impressions did it make?
Yes it was, I found it fascinating to be honest! there are a lot of similarities to real world shooting in the way of composing your image which really surprised me.
- EXPLORING DEATH STRANDING -
Do you see any parallels in the way virtual photography can remove creative limits and how digital cameras enabled experimentation in the past?
Very much so, in Death Stranding, the lens you use could zoom from 10 mm wide to a crazy 1000 mm, that just would not be possible in the real world. Digital cameras have been amazing as they allowed people to experiment without the very restrictive costs of film.
Have you been tempted to use virtual photography to try more styles that you may not normally do?
Personally no, in photography I tend to only shoot the same 2 genres, Landscape and Architecture. Shooting people for instance has never really appealed to me.
- DEATH STRANDING // THEFOURTHFOCUS
As recent lockdowns have made it more difficult to get outdoors with a real camera, video game photo modes represent an important creative outlet. Do you think it is something that more real life photographers will start spending time on?
For me, definitely as I have games that I can use, and I've been introduced into the format. I don't think photographers, unless they had the same things, would necessarily look to it for a creative outlet, but only because they don't know about it or haven't tried it for themselves. I think it could definitely be the case otherwise.
You recently sat on the judging panel for The VP Awards, were you impressed by the standard of images you saw being entered?
Very much so, I really liked the abstract ones the best I think. You could see a really creative thought process on those, exactly like what would be used in real world photography.
- VESTRAHORN LIGHT // PETE ROWBOTTOM -
Do you hope that virtual photography can encourage more people to pick up a real camera?
Definitely, and I don't see why it wouldn't, the images I saw submitted to the competition were obviously made by people who are creative, passionate, and talented so they could transfer those qualities into real world photography. It is just as I was asked to do in reverse, which I really enjoyed doing.
It's been great to get some insights from you Pete, thanks for joining me and I hope virtual photography has lots more in store for you.
Some fascinating points there then, especially around the awareness of photo modes. Personally, I am convinced that the understanding of virtual photography will continue to grow as it reaches and appeals to wider audiences, and this will undoubtedly bring good things to the world of VP.