I first came across the work of Mark Fearnley following a recommendation by another photographer. I found his portfolio of work inspiring and loved his use of composition and dark shadows which he expertly uses to frame solitary figures and create a sense of vulnerability.
Mark is an artist/painter and keen amateur photographer who currently lives in Northamptonshire, UK. He has a creative background which sees him work as a decorative artist, hand painting marble effects, gold leafing and various other paint effects. It was from inspirations like this, people like Jackson Pollock and his artistic tendencies that drew him to photography. Understanding composition and having a keen eye has subsequently led him to fine art street photography. This year his work was recognised in the Mobile Photography Awards with an honourable mention in the travel section with his image ‘Reflecting in the future’.
I caught up with Mark to find out more about him and his work.
How were you first introduced to Mobile Photography?
I was first introduced to mobile Photography two years ago when I got my iPhone 5. Even though I own a range of DSLR cameras I was shocked by the quality of images and now with my iPhone 6 the quality is even better.
What inspires you to take photos with your iPhone?
The fact that it’s easy, quick and there’s no frustration with settings – just point and shoot. Also I like the fact that it fits in your pocket and you don’t need a large camera bag with lenses and batteries. I shoot people a lot and you can make it a lot more discreet and non-invasive, not like sticking a DSLR in someone’s face. With having my phone on me at all times, I feel that I can grab that spontaneous opportunity.
Looking through your Instagram portfolio, a lot of your work features strong lines of perspective, curves and silhouetted figures in their compositions. What do you look for when composing your photographs and do you have any advice you can offer people looking to create more powerful compositions?
For me it’s location and the moment. I love tunnels, alleys, strong lines and then I persevere with patience for a human element. I then try to place my subjects under lights or a back light to give silhouetting so they stand out.
I say to people that ask me for inspiration to just take lots of photos and when you have done that, go out and take a lot more. Photography has no boundaries or rules, just shoot shoot and shoot until you find a style you like.
What apps do you use in post production and is there a process or methodology that you apply to your editing?
All my post processing is done in Snapseed for my mobile photography. I shoot most of the time in colour then convert to black and white. I then add contrast, vignetting and the selective tool for darkening areas.
What would you say are the key ingredients that make up your perfect photograph?
I’m all about light, hard lines, shadows and the human element. I love creating atmospheric moods and drama.
Do you have any incredible encounters or a story that really is part of your photographic journey that you would like to tell us?
Below is a picture of a flyover which I regularly visit as I love taking photos there as the road markings give great leading lines. Anyway, on this particular time I was holding my iPhone 6, snapping away, when it slipped from my hand. I saw it falling to the road below, in slow motion, when miraculously it dropped onto a passing bus, bounced off the roof and into the hedgerow! I thought that was it, I would never find it and if I did it would be smashed to pieces. But I did find it, after a bit of scrabbling around, and it still works perfectly and is virtually unmarked.
If you could spend the day with any photographer past or present who would it be and why?
I have so many great inspirational photographers and one would be Thomas Toft. I have followed his work on Flickr for a while now and love his creative style. He uses the human element in geometry in strong b/w images. l also love the work of Fan Ho; his work is a massive inspiration to me, his play on light is second to none. He has a book called ‘Hong Kong Yesterday’ which is jaw- dropping, depicting 1950s Hong Kong and capturing strong atmospheric compositions. I love his shadowplay using strong light and hard shadows.
Could you tell us the story behind three of your favourite photos?
My first favourite picture is a puddlegram taken on a wet morning in the east end of London. I came across this puddle and thought it would make a good scene as it had different textures in the tiles and slabs, and if I positioned myself right, I could get part of the buildings and lamp post in it. The street was busy so it was just persevering until the right person came past and eventually he did. I then flipped it and added contrast. I like this as the guy with his tie has a 1960s feel.
The Urban Crossing
This next picture was taken in St Pancras train station, London. As I was leaving the train platform heading to the escalator, I looked down to see the light on the floor casting shadows and resembling a large zebra crossing. I stood for around five minutes and got this shot of five people. I really liked the staggered configuration and the way the people were silhouetted.
In the spotlight
My last of my three favourite images is this taken in Budapest where I stumbled across this beautiful Victorian train station which is now a food market. When entering it I was amazed by these massive windows and was straight away drawn to the light pools created on the floor, spot lighting the floor like a stage. When this man with silvery hair walked towards me, I started snapping away. I love this shot as his hair is back-lit and the light just picked him out.
Connect with Mark Fearnley