Interview with an aerial photographer
Interview with Ian Bracegirdle
Welcome to the latest edition of interview with a photographer – this time we have an interview with an aerial photographer! How refreshing to have someone in the industry but from a different angle.
During a social photo walk was the first time I came across Ian Bracegirdle with his Canon gear. He was always keen to offer advice and help when needed, due to his experience from shooting weddings.
Obviously, the main focus of this interview has to be the aerial work, it must be a very niche market. So on with the interview to find out more…
Insight with Ian Bracegirdle
Tell us a little about yourself, where you grew up, what was life like (bear in mind viewers could be from a different country)
“From a tiny village called Kneesall near Newark. I was an outdoors kid and standard clothing all year seemed to be shorts and wellies!”
Tell us about the people who have influenced you in life and your career (professional and family/friends)
“My parents were a huge influence and still are really. My Mum was a head teacher and my Dad a Gamekeeper which is where my love of the outdoors probably came from. I can’t remember how or why I became interested in photography but I bought my first SLR aged about 16/17 A Zenit 11, I read as much as I could get my hands on and tried everything to teach myself the basics.
As far as improving as a photographer, would you recommend walks, groups, courses, books?
I’m a great one for reading about a subject but when I started aerial photography there just weren’t many (if any) books out there dedicated to the techniques needed. Those who know me will tell you I’m a great talker so talking to other photographers you can always learn something.”
What is your earliest memory of photography?
“First film in Zenit 11, not a clue what I was doing! I’d seen a photo taken at 125th/F8 that I liked so I set the camera to that. Didn’t even realise what the meter on top was for at that stage. Needless to say some were exposed correctly, some were over/under exposed. I soon learned to use the meter and then what the shutter speeds and aperture were actually for…
About a year later I won a photo competition in one of the very many photo magazines around at the time. Seeing my photo full page in a mag for the first time was fantastic.”
We can see from your website you are primarily an aerial photographer who also shoots weddings. Can you explain what this type of photography is all about and what has influenced you to shoot this particular field?
“The weddings started because you get to a certain age and all your friends start getting married. It just went from friends and family and word of mouth.
The aerial stuff started because I photographed a friends daughter and he had a microlight. He asked me to go flying with him and take a photo of his house. Initially, I said not a chance. After being asked several more times I agreed to go up and LOVED it. From there I had lessons and got my pilot’s licence in 1990. My instructor would let me take a camera up with me and take a few shots during lessons. I wouldn’t fly if I couldn’t take a camera up with me. I fly to take photos, not for the thrill of flying.”
What was one of the most rewarding shoots you remember and why?
“I photographed the Burj Al Arab in Dubai when it was first built. I’d hired an aircraft and local pilot and had a shooting list. He looked at the list and said ‘we can’t go there, or there, or do that, etc etc… in the end we did just about everything on the list!
In those days a single sale from that shoot earned enough for another visit to Dubai.. Now you’re lucky if you make enough for a McDonalds on the way home!”
What is always in your camera bag when you go out?
“Spare batteries. GPS”
Do you have a favourite lens?
“Canon 70-200 f2.8 is. I had the mk1 version for many many thousands of images and it was superb and I didn’t think it could be bettered until I borrowed the mk11 version. Damn. It was visibly better even on the rear screen of the camera. I bought one the same week.”
THE RANDOM QUESTIONS
When you were a child, what career/job/field did you want to go into?
“I wanted to be in the RAF. Unfortunately, a medical condition prevented me.”
Name one of your strengths and one of your weaknesses
“I’m a good listener. I’m forgetful.”
Mortal kombat or street fighter?
“Not a clue what you’re on about! Not a gamer”
Would you rather lose a toe or a finger?
“Having lost partial use of a couple of fingers in an accident 2 years ago, a toe!”
You are elected prime minister, what is your one main item on your manifesto?
“Aviation fuel to be made much cheaper.”
You find Aladdin’s magic lamp, what are your 3 wishes?
“Health, happiness and to take an instantly recognisable aerial photo that becomes World famous for 100 years after I’m gone.”
You have to choose to share “a punch”, “a pint” or “a present” with the following:
Winston Churchill, Freddie Flintoff and Elvis. Which option for each person and why:
“A punch for Elvis for leaving the building too soon.
A pint with Churchill because I’d love to hear his War stories.
A Present for Flintoff as I know nothing about cricket!”
The aerial photographer comes across as a friendly sort person who enjoys life and will do anything to get a shot. I could not imagine piloting an aeroplane just to get a photograph, Ian is a very brave man!
It has been really cool to see photographs from a very different perspective and makes you wonder how he gets such a good quality shot from an aeroplane.
Liked this article and want to see more?
Please get in touch if you fancy a shot at being interviewed. Alternatively if you know someone with quality work different from anything before then get in touch too.
Previous interviews sessions are here:
Safia – Interview with a model.
Jon Scrimshaw – Interview with Instinctive Photography
Chris Miralles – Interview with a Photographer