PowerSolve talks to Jonathan Bartley, a freelance reportage and wedding photographer from St. Ives, Cornwall.
What do you love about your job?
My partner and I moved to St Ives from London 2-years ago. We always spent time down here on weekends as we’re both keen paddle boarders but when Kelly fell pregnant with our little girl we decided to relocate. Kelly is a pharmacist and works part-time and I work as a freelance reportage photographer for local and national newspapers although I’ve been doing an increasing amount of wedding photography since we moved here. I enjoy spending time at the beach with Grace, Kelly and our Springer spaniel, Dexter, paddle boarding and taking pictures of the scenery in and around Cornwall.
I always get asked what reportage photography is, even by my mum. I don’t call myself a photo-journalist or anything but I do tell a STORY through pictures, capturing news events as they happen.
You may not be staging the shots as a reportage photographer, but you do need to plan in advance.
I always assess the lighting around me, plan my shots and wait for that PERFECT MOMENT to unfold, often undetected. I’m not a stalker or a pap hiding in the bushes, but I do have to blend in with the action around me in order to tell a story. You have to EXIST VERY QUIETLY at the heart of the drama to get that sense of perspective and to capture and convey an atmosphere in a picture.
One of the reasons I’m doing more and more wedding photography is the current trend for less staged pictures, which capture the bride, groom and their family and friends unobtrusively while they are enjoying the day. If I’m doing a wedding I get couples to interact with each other naturally and try to capture a moment between them that’s AUTHENTIC.
Having the right kit with me on a job is really important. Reportage photography takes time. If you want that picture, you have to BE PREPARED to wait for it.
Where is your office?
I have two offices. A pod in our garden, which has a dark room, studio and office and my reconditioned customised 1978 VW Camper van. It’s great for work and play. If I’m on a job I can lock up my kit, make myself a cuppa, charge up my kit and get on with the admin.
What are the places to take pictures in Cornwall?
St Ives to Zenner
We moved to St Ives because Cornwall offered us the lifestyle we wanted away from the city and because the views around here are epic and abundant. My favourite place to photograph is spread over 6 miles between St Ives and the village of Zennor. You literally walk through ancient stone circles, fields of lavender and look out over the cliffs at basking seals and dolphins. On a sunny summer day, I’m not sure there’s anywhere more beautiful on earth.
The Lizard Peninsula
The Lizard Peninsular is great if you want to capture sunrise and sunsets. I have done a whole day in a relatively small spot starting on the eastern side of the peninsula in Coverack. If you continue around the coast after sunrise you’ll find coves and villages with loads of great photo ops. I try to end the day shooting a sunset at St Michael’s Mount in Marazion. The camper is made for long days like this.
Some of my pictures of Cornwall are sold at a gallery in Tintagel and if I’m down there for business I always try to squeeze in some photography. Tintagel castle is awesome, rugged and has a cliff top backdrop – it’s also the site of Arthurian legend and well worth a visit.
What’s your best picture?
I’ve shot so many amazing stories and places it should be really hard to choose but it’s not. It may sound corny but my best piece of reportage photography is a picture I took of Kelly and a very new Grace fast asleep. They were so serene, which was in stark contrast to the long night we’d just survived with a screaming baby.
What are your tips?
Keep it steady! If you can’t, use a tripod
Do not zoom – get in closer
Use a good backup power source
Use your camera’s best aspect ratio and resolution
Clean your lenses
Most modern cameras make it really easy to adjust focus and exposure – make sure you know how to do this on your camera or smartphone
Follow the rule of thirds
Learn how to use your camera modes
If you’re using a smartphone try some of the new camera apps to access more advanced or manual settings/tweaks
What Equipment do you carry?
Because of the nature of my work I don’t travel light but my cameras, lenses, laptop, mobile, GPS and back-up power are probably the main essentials. I don’t always know where I’m going to be sent for work and my sense of direction isn’t great either so I’d literally be lost without the GPS. My smartphone is also a work lifeline. I use it to take/make work calls throughout the day and to send images to the newsroom via my laptop. I also use the 4G connection to upload images to the cloud so that everything is backed up.
Speaking of being backed up [laugh’s], I never go on a job without back-up power. Technology figures too highly in my work to fail. If it’s a breaking news story I can’t afford not to get my pictures in before anyone else. I use the PowerSolve 24V inverter to charge my laptop in the van and I have the PowerSolve PSB8000 Power Bank for my camera, smartphone and GPS. It’s magic and fits in my camera bag.
I always carry my PowerSolve SOL1850 Solar Power Bank, which gives me back up power for my iPhone, the emergency sat phone, GPS, camera and my iPad Mini. Although I charge my electronic devices before an expedition, my PowerSolve Power Bank recharges via solar as well as mains electricity. This means I can re charge at lodgings, in the van or during a climb. Having the right back up power means I never worry about the battery life of my essential devices when I’m on the move.