Interview With Lee Pengelly

Lee Pengelly is a professional photographer based in the southwest of England. He started taking pictures in 1996, after a college course and BFP and quickly realised that photography is what he wanted to do for a living

Besides your main interest, landscapes, you photograph other genres of photography such as architecture, weddings, and travel. Tell us about your philosophy on this please; is it purely for income or do you love experimenting in different fields?

Landscape got me into photography I just love it, but during my early years I worked exclusively for a county magazine, “Devon Today” and shot everything from food, news, portraits, architecture - you name it, I shot it. With no formal training it was a real trial by fire, but I learnt so much in those years. From this time certain subjects stuck, namely food and architecture. Weddings and most of my other commercial projects are my bread and butter, not a passion but part of the job of being freelance. However I still approach each project/subject with the same enthusiasm. Travel is a recent subject and something I am keen to develop more. I have always enjoyed travelling and to record these travels gives me a real buzz; I love exploring new places and getting caught up in the atmosphere of a country.

Photography, of course, is your day job and a means of earning your living. Have you found that since you started working as a pro, your enjoyment towards photography has changed or do you still get the same satisfaction?

I have to be honest answering this and say yes, but both positively and unfortunately sometimes negatively. The financial strains of doing this for a living are stressful, especially in these image-saturated times. I have said always that when it feels like a job I shall give it up: it’s come close but thankfully I am still there! I have always been self-employed so am used to the feast or famine existence, but sometimes the pressures can be a headache. It is rare for me to get out and shoot something just for the hell of it now. When I do it’s like a fix and reminds me why I love it so much. On a positive note though, I am my own boss; I work from home so see my family everyday, get to travel to fantastic places and do something I love. Yes, I have to make my own work to obtain leads and motivate myself daily, but I don’t have the threat of redundancy hanging over me, or impossible targets to reach each month, so I’m not complaining.

Obviously you shot film when doing medium and large format photography and then scanned to digital. What post processing did your images undergo after that? Can you give us some details of your workflow?

I scan transparencies, (5x4”, 6x7cm, 6x4.5 and 35mm) with a Canon 9900F scanner coming out as 70MB files. These are then put through Photoshop, tweaked in levels, curves and colour balance and cleaned at 200%. They are then saved as TIFF files and archived. Digitally I work with Capture One RAW software where images are batch processed, tweaking levels, curves, white balance and minimal sharpening. They are then exported as 16bit Tiff’s to Photoshop where they undergo a few more minor tweaks in levels, curves and saturation, (normally no more than +8) after which they are captioned, key-worded and archived, along with the RAW files, twice on CD’s, (don’t trust DVD’s!) and hard drives. They are then ...

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