Learn from your Mistakes and Develop as a Photographer – An Interview with Linda Wride

Linda is a self-taught, award winning, freelance photographer based in Oxford.  Although diverse, her portfolio is underpinned by a love of shape, form, pattern and geometry. She has enjoyed success in a wide range of photography competitions; her photographs are exhibited regularly in the UK and have been featured in the national and international press, photography magazines and books. Linda is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society (ARPS) and holds distinctions from the Photographic Alliance (DPAGB) of Great Britain and the International Federation of Photographic Art (AFIAP). I spoke with Linda about her fascinating images.

Prismatic Linda Wride
Photo by Linda Wride titled ‘Prismatic’. Eye-catching metal clad staircase inside Madrid’s Caixa Forum, Spain

What got you into photography?

Photography has been part and parcel of my life for as long as I can remember.  As a child, I took photos with my mum’s ancient Box Brownie camera.  As a student, I had access to a darkroom and learnt how to develop film and print in black and white.  As a parent, I took photos of my kids growing up and special family occasions, as well as day to day life.  And, as an adult, photography has gone hand in hand with a love of traveling and interest in design. 

Digital photography, being able to process and print images at home and share photographs globally via the web, has provided opportunities to be creative and adventurous, broaden my photographic horizons and get feedback on, and reactions to, my images from a very diverse range of communities.  This has both deepened and widened my interest in photography over the last 20 years or so.

candy stripes Linda Wride scaled
Photo by Linda Wride titled ‘Candy Stripes’. Façade detail from Museum Brandhorst, Munich, Germany, which looks like an abstract painting and draws attention to the building’s function as an art museum.

Your photography is very diverse! Tell me a bit more about what interests you and what you enjoy photographing.

I hate being restricted to a specific genre of photography or subject matter, so anything and everything is a potential source of inspiration, depending on where I am and what I’m doing.  Since childhood, I’ve had an interest in art – painting, drawing, printmaking, graphic design, sculpture – and this feeds into images in terms of composition, use of colour and processing techniques, as well as subject matter on occasion.  

Throughout my (non-photographic) professional career, I’ve been involved with design in the built environment in one capacity or another; photographing architecture and creating architectural abstracts is a natural fit with this background.  When out and about in the urban environment, I keep an eye open for street photography opportunities.  I love travelling, experiencing new places, cultures and way of life.  Travel photography is such a broad church that it’s an opportunity rather than a constraint in terms of subject matter and treatment.

Muralla Roja Linda Wride scaled
Photo by Linda Wride titled ‘Muralla Roja’. A post-modern apartment complex in Calpe, Spain designed by Ricardo Boffil, where building elements are painted striking different colours making it appear like a 3D abstract painting

From time to time, I like to get out of my photographic comfort zone.  This has led me into exploring landscape photography (not so easy if you rely on public transport to access far flung places, as I do) and portrait photography, which I’m enjoying more and more as I gradually overcome my early fear of photographing strangers.  I’ve even unintentionally dipped into food photography whilst on my travels.  Rule nothing out, you never know where it might take you – in my case, three images shortlisted in the Claire Aho Award for Women Photographers in this year’s Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition!

What kind of influences do you draw inspiration from?

A broad range of art and graphic design; modern architecture; historic buildings; the urban and natural environment; visual storytelling in any media.

Do you have any favourite photographers or creative influences that have informed your photographic style, and why?

There are photographers whose work I love and images that are almost burned into my visual memory.  However, I try not to consciously emulate or be unduly influenced by the work of other photographers.  For me, it’s more important to develop my own distinctive photographic style (although looking at work by others I admire probably has a subconscious impact).  I think I’m more influenced in my approach to photography by art and design movements and other cultures, rather than the photography of other people. 

What kit do you shoot with and what’s your favourite bit of kit?

I have to manage long-term back problems by limiting the weight I carry – no more than a couple of kilos for any length of time.  This means I travel light, including my photography kit.  One camera, one lens – currently a Nikon Z7 II full frame mirrorless body and Nikkor 24-120mm wide-angle zoom lens, along with a spare battery and cards, plus my iPhone and small portable battery pack.  I have a Peak Design carbon fibre travel tripod (the smallest and lightest I could find at the time), but I only take it on a trip if there’s somewhere safe, I can store it while we’re out and about, rather than carrying it around with me if I’m unlikely to use it.  With so little kit, every bit is essential – no favourite!

Look at this
Photo by Linda Wride titled ‘Look at this’. Parkour at the South Bank, London

What are you working on at the moment?

I recently returned from Europe where I travelled on and off for three months with an InterRail pass, visiting Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.  I’m gradually working my way through shots taken on those trips, processing my favourites and deciding what to do with them – upload to my portfolio on 1x; share on social media; add to my pages on Shot by Women; create prints for personal use, or maybe a book, or books? 

What would you say is your goal with your photography?

Although my images are sold through 1x.com and licensed by Shot by Women, I’m in the very fortunate position of not relying on photography as my main source of income.  As a result, I can be selective about subject matter, location, genre, style etc, rather than having to shoot for a specific market.  For me, photography is a creative outlet (and occasionally a creative lifeline when life gets tough).  

I take photos primarily for my own enjoyment.  If people like my images enough to buy a print for their wall or use one of my photos to illustrate an article, I’m delighted!  But I’m happy to leave the business side of it (marketing, promotion, admin, client cultivation etc) to others.  Been there, done that.  Life’s too short.  I want to continue enjoying photography, rather than getting stressed by someone else’s deadlines or involvement in a project which does not interest me personally.  I hope to be able to carry on working in this way in future.

That said, I would LOVE to be commissioned to travel the length of the Silk Road or Pan American Highway, taking photos en route of people, architecture, landscape, customs, food and drink and such like, provided that a vehicle, driver/fixer comes with the commission and I can check into a hotel with private en-suite facilities at least once a week to do laundry, have a bath, wash my hair and catch up electronically with family and friends.  I’m of an age now where some creature comforts and conveniences are a pre-requisite!

Necmi charcoal burner
Photo by Linda Wride titled ‘Necmi, the charcoal burner’. Environmental portrait captured near Kalfa, north west Turkey

As a female photographer, do you feel that you face any particular challenges? Do you feel that the industry is favourable towards women, or would you like to see any changes?

Occasionally when people see my architectural images, some seem surprised to find out that the photographer is a woman.  It’s a relatively niche subject in the wider scheme of things, and a field which historically has been dominated by men (although that has started to change with Zaha Hadid).  As I probably know more about architecture, how buildings work and the importance of the public domain than most of my audience, there’s usually respect for what I do regardless of my gender.  However, whilst I don’t think being a female photographer has worked against me personally, I haven’t been out there in the marketplace, in competition with male counterparts.  Given my rather unusual personal circumstances, I doubt whether my experience in the industry is typical.  

I know from working with Shot by Women (SBW) that female photographers can face particular challenges.  Our world is filled with exceptionally talented photographers who are women, yet so little of their content is available to license through existing image library platforms.  Opinions, habits, and decisions are often arrived at through the published media we consume daily.  With over 80% of it shot from a male gaze, how truthful a representation of our world can that be?  

We need to empower female photographers, help them gain creative confidence, overcome imposter syndrome and get their work out there to ensure that future generations are provided with a fairer, more truthful, gender-balanced visual representation of the world.  Debates around the Female Gaze; groups like She Snaps and She Clicks; projects like 100 Heroines: Women in Photography; businesses like Shot by Women and Female Perspectives are all raising the profile, but the fact that such groups, projects and businesses are necessary in this day and age, suggest that there’s still some way to go…

Cool driving Linda Wride
Photo by Linda Wride titled ‘Cool Driving’. The eye catching pink and chrome work of old American car, plus the relaxed driving style of the Havaneros, Havana, Cuba

What advice would you give to budding photographers?

I guess the answer to that question depends to an extent on the budding photographer’s goal.  But whatever the long-term aim, my advice would be enjoy your photography!  Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – learn from them.  Experiment: trial and error will help you develop.  Ask questions and seek constructive criticism if you get stuck.  There is support out there to help you if you need it.  

And when you start out, don’t get too hung up about kit.  An expensive camera with lots of bells and whistles will not automatically take brilliant pictures.  It’s the person who seeks out interesting subjects, finds a good viewpoint, composes the image, sees the decisive moment and presses the shutter button who takes the photo; the kit is just a means to an end.  Although I have what is considered to be a professional camera, I still use my iPhone to take photos on an almost daily basis to keep my photographic eye in.  My first international competition win (International Colour Awards Photography Masters Cup) was taken on a little point and shoot camera in a swimming pool on a family holiday…If I can do it with no formal training and two young children splashing about like maniacs, so can you!  

Linda’s images are sold through the curated website 1x.com. She’s also a contributor to Shot By Women which licenses images for editorial and advertising taken exclusively by female photographers. You can also follow her on Instagram and Vero (@lindawride).

Linda Wride profile
Photographer Linda Wride. Photo by Rueben Worlledge

Cover Photo By Linda Wride.

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