Interview with Sue Trower

Suzanne Trower FRPS CPAGB was born in the Channel Island of Jersey and continues to live and work there.

Many of her images have been inspired by the peace and tranquillity she finds along the cliffs and sandy beaches of the island. The ever-changing light and tides, combined with her love of long exposures provide a calming view. This philosophy is also carried through in travels to other parts of the world, including one of her favourites, Iceland. Sue continues to explore the magic of coastal scenery and aims to portray the emotions she feels in her photography.

Monochrome is used on some images to highlight the drama light can provide in certain landscapes, creating an almost graphic effect. This can be found in the Silver Lining collection which took about two years to produce. These images formed a successful submission to the Royal Photographic Society and Sue was granted a Fellowship in June 2017.

Interview:

LEMAG: Sue, looking at your portfolio one immediately is captured by omnipresence of water in your images. It is a matter of course that living in Jersey, which offers superb photo opportunities for seascape photographers, you will be drawn towards seashore and endless photo opportunities is offers. I wanted to ask in what other ways living on this spectacular island and among your community influenced your photography.

Sue Trower: We have a very good sporting community in the island, and I was very privileged to photograph our Championship Rugby team in action for seven years. In addition, I love shooting the surfers (I can’t stay away from the water)! We also have a vibrant finance industry which provides opportunities to shoot some modern architecture.

LEMAG: Tell us please a little bit about your technique. What is your best time of the day, what vantage point you prefer? What post-production techniques you are using?

Sue Trower: When I first started using a digital camera, I was fascinated by long exposures. I remember the first time I learnt the technique on a workshop in Cornwall and was instantly smitten with the sense of calm the technique portrayed. The beauty of standing behind a camera whilst it works its magic is that I have plenty of time to look around me and spot a new or different composition, imagine what a different shutter speed might offer, or even think about how I will process the final picture.

When I first started out, I would be up for the sunrise and out late for sunset loving the colours these times of day brought to landscapes. As I have progressed, I have found myself drawn to the quality of light and how it plays over the sea or land, and this can happen at any time.

When I am shooting in the island, I try and explore every angle and every vantage point. Whilst I may be restricted as to subject matter and views, I can revisit a location every day if necessary, until I get what I am after. Having said that, moments have to be grasped because they may never happen again!

In post-production, I import into Lightroom Classic CC  and do the basic cropping, and exposure adjustments. I then edit in Photoshop CC 2019, converting to mono if that is how I’m processing, and then use Levels and Curves adjustment layers, together with selective dodging and burning. I will also run a mono image through Silver Efex Pro 2 to check the tonal range. I do love having fun in Photoshop and will experiment for hours!

LEMAG: Do you set up yourself projects?

Sue Trower: I do, but very often they fall by the wayside for one reason or another. One project which started small was Silver Lining, but happily it took my interest and I successfully submitted it to the Royal Photographic Society and gained my Fellowship. I have a couple of fledgling projects on the go, and I hope that over the next couple of years I will be able to develop them. I don’t like to be too restricted when I’m out and about and whilst I often set out with an idea I try keep an eye out for the unusual.

LEMAG: Tell us a bit about your gear please.

Sue Trower: I have a Canon 5d mk 4 which I love, it’s like an extension of my arm. My armoury of lenses include a canon EF 24-70 2.8 mk 11, EF 70-200mm 2.8 mk11, EF 16-35mm f4, TS 24mm 3.5, EF 100mm 2.8 Macro and a Zeiss 21mm 2.8 Distagon. I also have a Leica M10 with  Elmarit 28mm 2.8  and Sumicron 50mm f2 lenses.

LEMAG: One of the galleries on your website carries a title ‘In my view’. This is of course a title which can be understood in two ways – as ‘what I see on my way’ but also as ‘how I see/understand things/world’. Let me ask you a question which I believe is as crucial to any concerning photographer as it is hard to answer: what are you shooting about?

Sue Trower: Now that’s a tricky question. Nothing in photography in the main is truly new. We are all influenced sub consciously and consciously by photographs and paintings we have seen in the past. In My View is my take on what I see. Long exposure work cuts out the turmoil in a scene and leaves a sense of peace and calm. I would like to live in a quiet and uncluttered world and My View is trying to reflect that with my own stamp on it. I’m never happier than when someone says that they knew a photo was mine before they saw the name.

LEMAG: As a photographer, is there a location you would like to visit above all others?

Sue Trower: The list is endless, but if I have to choose one it will be Greenland as I have a trip planned there next year.

LEMAG: Who was your master and why? Being a professional photographer do you still get influenced by work of others? If so, can you give us a recent example?

Sue Trower: I moved from being the family snapper to a passionate photographer with the purchase of my first digital camera about 10 years ago. I attended workshops with various brilliant photographers who I now consider friends, amongst them are Ross Hoddinott, Mark Bauer , David Clapp and Rohan Reilly More recently I have joined Jonathan Chritchley’s Ocean Capture tours and I have learnt much from all these guys. I cannot single out a one overwhelming influence but I do spend a lot of time looking at photographs and paintings old and new. Many photographers I follow  are also now contributors to LEMAG, and they do inspire me. One photographer I return to time after time is Ernst Haas. He has an amazing eye for catching the moment and seeing a photo in the mundane. I’m particularly drawn to his shots of New York and those which involve fleeting movement.

Your ‘Snake Jetty’ and ‘Out to Sea’ images are perhaps my favourite of yours. Can you tell us how they came to be and what are your favourites among your own work?

Snake Jetty is a photo of a long winding jetty which spends most of its time either under water or sitting forlornly amongst a load of rocks without a drop of water in sight. There is about a 20 minute window once or twice a day, when a decent shot is possible.

In this particular instance there was a thick mist which gave the jetty an ethereal look.

Out to Sea remains one of my favourite pictures. These posts suddenly appeared out of nowhere after some bad winter storms removed a large amount of sand from that area of beach. They were only exposed for about six months and I shot them many times. This one was my first and best attempt. They have yet to reappear!

It’s hard to pick my favourites, but Moonlit Curve and Fishing Nets 2, Venice 2016 I never tire of looking at. They both reflect the feeling of calm I was referring to earlier, and my aim to keep a picture as uncluttered as possible. They are also in my preferred pale grey/blue and mono tones.

LEMAG: Sue, thank you very much for your time and best of luck with your future projects.

Moonlit Curve
A Peachy End to the Day
Black Satin 3