Written by Olly Caiden, Compositing Supervisor
I’ve been interested in photography since my early teens; my friends and I were all into skateboarding and rollerblading, and the magazines we read always had amazing photos of the pros. I picked up a camera and started trying to re-create these images myself and I haven’t really stopped since.
Although my interest started with skateboarding, it has since expanded into so many different interests in my life. Today, my style is more varied, as I like to shoot whatever I come across, and I find lots of styles fun for different reasons. I enjoy landscape photography, which is the polar opposite to documentary/street in terms of planning, where you have to be much more spontaneous.
I think that spontaneity is key to so many of my photographs. I enjoy taking photos wherever I am. I find that looking for shots helps me explore and see an area in a way that I would probably gloss over if I wasn’t with my camera. It helps me get off the beaten track and go somewhere I may not have been inclined to go before. This is something I really love about photography —the ability to capture moments from particular experiences and adventures.
Spontaneity has actually led to one of my favorite pieces of work. The photo above, which was taken when I was in Vietnam, is the result of random exploration. I had stopped by the river as the midday heat was getting overwhelming and I stumbled across these guys cooling down their cows and took a few photos. It was just a lovely, simple moment that comes to life within the frame.
On the other end of the scale, you have the type of photography where you have to plan and wait for the moment to appear. Landscapes can be amazing and frustrating at the same time – I can plan a trip based on a location, but if the weather isn’t how I imagined, then I may walk away without the image I had planned. But when it works, it’s incredible. The photograph of the Milky Way is another favorite of mine.
Astrophotography can be very technical, involving a lot of specific conditions and planning. Being from the UK, and never having really experienced a truly dark sky, I planned a trip out to Death Valley in California. There is almost no light pollution, so it’s the perfect place to see the Milky Way if you get the right conditions. This photo shows the payoff from a lot of time researching locations and methodologies, and then putting all of the reading into practice.
Photography creates this mindset that you can’t really shut off, which is why it works its way into my work at MPC. There is definitely a relationship between my photography and what I do as a compositor. I spend a lot of time looking at images and seeing work from top DPs and directors, which may spur new ideas or provide inspiration for something I may want to shoot in my own time. Also, spending time with a camera helps inform how different lenses react to light and affect composition, which I can bring to what I do at MPC.
Ultimately, every photo tells a story, and in one single frame you have the power to explore and eventually craft a narrative that’s genuine and unique to both the subject matter and your own point of view. It’s a fundamental form of discovery and can turn into one big adventure.