Thursday Thoughts with… Scott Eccleston

I am happy to report that the weekly series where I interview fellow photographers and share their thoughts and perspectives here on the blog.  This week, I’d like to welcome Scott Eccleston to the stage.  Scott has his own blog and shares his thoughts and ideas on a regular basis so be sure to stop over at his site where he shares Weekly Photo Tips!

Without further ado, here’s the latest in the revived Thursday thoughts series, with Scott Eccleston!

Q:  Hi Scott, welcome and thanks for agreeing to participate in the latest edition of the Thursday Thoughts series.  Since everyone always wants to know some of the basics, so let’s get a few things out of the way at once here…first up, ow long have you been a photographer?

A:  I got my first digital point and shoot in 2003…

Q:  So, that means you’ve been shooting digital for about 6 years now.  What kind of gear do you shoot with (i.e. Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Pentax)?

A:  Nikon, not to feed into the “Nikon vs. Canon” feud, it was because of familiarity. My first camera was a Nikon, then I upgraded to a Nikon 8700 (looking back, it was not much of an upgrade), then a D70, then to a D200, and now a D300 (but there is this persistent fantasy that involves a D3x)…

Q:  No worries about brand wars here – I think the CB readership knows it’s about the person behind the lens (and in front).  What about film?  Ever dabbled in that prior to digital?

A:  No film, never shot film – as Vincent Versace says “film is what you grows on your teeth when you don’t brush”  😉

Q:    Who’s Vincent Versace?  Just kidding!  What about post production – do you work on a mac, PC, Linux, or some combo?

A:  PC…

Q:  And let’s go completely off topic for a moment:  Chocolate, Vanilla or Strawberry?


Q:  Nice!  Well, now that we’ve gotten the basic sundry stuff out of the way, I like to get others insights on various aspects of your work – and this often starts with the critique.  Photographers often enjoy hearing helpful and constructive critiques of their work, as we are aware of how much we can grow from it.  However, we’ve also all had the “nice shot” and “cool” comments when we’ve shared our work.   With that setup, what would you say was the singular most useful critique or comment you’ve ever had on work you’ve shared publicly?

A:  It was a critique about composition – “cinematic approach to photography”. Film makers (and film shooters) do not have the luxury of cropping; thought and planning are an important part of their image composition. Because I started shooting digital I adopted the “I’ll crop that out” that evolved into the “I’ll fix that in Photoshop” mindset that is too common with digital shooters. Confession, I began as a lazy photographer, I used Photoshop as a sledgehammer, now I use it as an emery board. I use it so infrequently now that when I do, it takes me a moment to orient myself to the workspace. And I don’t use it to “fix” an image, I use it for a black and white conversion or to edit something I had no control over at the time of the shoot (like blemish removal). I learned that if I spent more time getting it right in camera not only did I spend less time in post production, I was getting better quality images.

Sorry, I was rambling, but this is fundamental building block in my evolution as a photographer (and I could ramble on, and on, and…).

Q:  Heh, again, no worries – I’ve been known to wax on and on myself.  Speaking of waxing, just the other day I was…oh, wait, sorry, getting off topic there.  Back on the subject of critique… if someone was asking you for an honest critique of their work, what 3 factors would you look at most (excluding friendships or family relatives, we’re talking professional or fellow photographer-types here)?

A:  The first thing would be to determine if they really want an “Honest Critique”. 😉

  1. Intent
  2. Technique
  3. Execution

Q:  What happened to the rambling nature?  Again, just kidding, but I like the approach – it shows how you approach capturing your own images!  Speaking of capturing your own images, as we’ve seen the post process mature in programs like Photoshop and other software options,  new ways to create images are presenting wider options and possibilities. If you had to choose between the gear or the software as the only way to create, which would it be and why?

A:  GEAR! The software should be used to complement your work, not create it.

Q:  Heh, well, it shows in your skillwith which you execute your imagery.  Speaking of which, you’ve got a great body of work!  In that vein, if you had to pick three pictures out of your entire portfolio to represent your approach to photography, or your artistic vision, which ones would you pick and why?

A:  Each of these images represents a first for me…

Scott Eggleston

This was taken with my point and shoot and was the first image that said something to me, that evoked an emotion. It was the image that made me want to learn more about photography (and spend a ton of money on gear in the process).

Scott Eggleston

This was the first of my images that said something to others. I was new to the Portland (Maine) Camera Club and had just started submitting to print competitions, during the critique one of the judges (who is a well established professional photographer) said “this is one of the best black and whites I have seen here”.

Scott Eggleston

This is the first time I had an idea for an image that came out exactly as I had envisioned it.

Q:  Wow!  These are great ones, and I can see why you chose them.  Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts, work, and input here on the blog.  Are there any final thoughts you’d like to share about the state of photography or any catch phrases that you keep in mind when shooting?

A:  There are two things about the state of photography that have drawn me in and make me want to stay:

  • When photographers discover new things, new techniques, instead of hiding it like a closely guarded secret; they share it with the rest of the world. Sites like Strobist and people like you are great examples of this.
  • In keeping with that theme, most photographers seem to have little interest or desire in being better than another photographer, they just have a desire to be a better photographer.

Thank you for inviting me here Jason.

Thank you Scott, the pleasure has been all mine (as is the same for the readers of the blog)!  Remember, you can find out more about Scott, his Weekly Photo Tips, and his professional body of work on the web too, so be sure to stop over and enjoy everything he has to offer!

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3 comments for “Thursday Thoughts with… Scott Eccleston

  1. March 26, 2009 at 7:30 am

    Great Interview Guys –

    I had not seen that BW hand shot before

    Great work Scott

  2. March 26, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Great interview – really enjoyed it. I really like that third image. I’m not normally a fan of spot-colour but that works so well. And it came out of a Nikon too….. 😉

  3. March 26, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Nice interview gentlemen! I especially like his final thoughts about wanting to become a better photographer, and sharing his knowledge along the way. Thanks to sites like Canon Blogger, I feel like I ma getting the best of both worlds. Thank you both.

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