Chris Friel (born 1959) is a British color-blind photographer noted for his abstract photographs shot with multiple long exposures or intentional camera movements. Chris worked as a painter for many years and turned to photography quite late in his career in 2006. Since then he’s shot thousands of images, sometimes shooting more than a 1000 in a day! His archive at Flickr is so big that we couldn’t decide how to select his best images for this post.
In the beginning, Chris took only B&W images due to his color-blindness but most of his recent work is in color. He does minimal post-processing in computer and mostly relies on in-camera tools. We love to look at play of movements, gradation of color, and experiments with composition in his work. Certainly not a taciturn, Chris gave very to-the-point and pithy replies to our questions that help us understand his work and learn from his inspirations:
How did you become a photographer? In what ways did your background as a painter help in your work? How do you view your accomplishments as a photographer?
I started photography in 2006 after being a painter for many years. I actually bought an early Canon digital SLR to photograph some painting for a catalogue, and got excited by what the camera was capable of. I haven’t painted since.
Painting taught me some rules which I now just ignore in photography.
I am still trying to generate some photographic accomplishments to view.
How did you evolve as a photographer and what made you focus on the style of work you do?
Over the years I have used tilt shift lenses, long exposure and multiple exposure techniques- all with the same aim of interpreting rather than just representing the subject.
Do you think photographers need to have an artist statement of their own? Do you have one? Has photography made some lasting impacts on your outlook or personality?
No, I don’t think so and I don’t make an artist statement. There aren’t any noticeable effects of photography on my personality.
How do you draw a line between art of painting and photography? What is your critical assessment of these genres?
I don’t draw a line between them. Art either elicits a response or it doesn’t. I’m afraid that such a critical assessment is beyond my capacity to make.
What equipment and settings do you use? What do you exploit the technique of MLE (multiple long exposure)?
I use a Canon 5d Mk-III with a 50mm prime most of the time and use Lightroom for post-processing. I have done a lot more MLE work in the last couple of years because I can now do it all in camera.
Your work has a very distinct abstract flair. How and when do you decide that you’ve got a desired (perfect?) shot?
The unpredictability of the whole process is the key to my photography, you never know what will show up. My work is just a continual attempt to produce an image that excites me the following day.
What other themes and projects would you like to cover in future?
I’m still trying to get my current themes right.
Do you have a favorite photo?
My favorite photo is always the one I just took i.e. it’s usually my last photo.
Tell us about your future plans and inspiration. How do you keep yourself motivated?
So far I have visited 150 of the 195 countries in the world. If someone sponsored me I would be happy to visit the remaining 45 with a camera.
There is a list of 200 of my favorite photographers and painters with links to their work here.
Alcohol helps me stay motivated.
Many amateur and aspiring photographers call you a great influence. Say something to them, please:
Take 1000 photos a day for 10 years and then reassess the situation. I’m off this landmark for a couple of years and still have no idea what I’m really doing.
All photos © Chris Friel : Website | Flickr