Interview: Darren Brogan
An interview with Scotland based travel photographer Darren Brogan, who shoots exclusively with Fujifilm.
Photography: Darren Brogan
Can you tell us about your background and how you fell into photography?
Photography plays a huge part in my life these days but strangely, it’s a far-cry from my day-to-day profession. By trade I work as an IT consultant in the city of Edinburgh and my daily routine involves a short commute into the city from my home town of Dunfermline. My work is completely office based and has absolutely nothing to do with the outdoors or photography. With that in mind, this makes photography a bit of a creative outlet for myself and one that I find hugely enjoyable.
My love for photography is closely linked to my passion for travel. My wife and I love to travel and we try to explore as often as we can, whether it be at home in Scotland or further afield in other countries around the world. For a number of years, I used my camera to visually document the trips we took to allow us to reminisce and bring back memories of past adventures. Now it seems that I carry my camera with me wherever I go, just in case I find something that catches my eye.
As I started taking more and more images, I gradually learned how to better capture my surroundings and how to tweak and edit the images afterwards. Understandably, after cataloguing my trips for a number of years, my collection of images became quite large so I chose to start sharing them on Instagram. I guess I felt compelled to share my images as a means of perhaps inspiring others to get out and see the world for themselves. As my audience on the platform grew, so did my passion for photography.
What is your favourite location to shoot?
Tough question. My favourite locations are generally ones that I’ve never visited before. I enjoy experiencing a new destination for the first time, trying to capture them as best I can using photography. But if I were to focus on the places that I have visited the most for photography, I’d have to say the Scottish Highlands. I live only a couple of hours drive away from them and I’ve spent a great deal of time out and about on the hills, trying to capture the rugged hills, cliffs and stunning beaches in the north west of the country.
Which images would you say have been the most significant for you in your photography journey so far?
In 2014, my wife and I went travelling around the world for 7 months and I’d say that the images I took on that trip have been the most significant on my photography journey so far. We visited entirely new places every day and I had my camera with me the whole time. We visited the cities of Asia, the fjords of New Zealand, the beaches of Thailand, the remote islands and ancient cities of South America. I learned a great deal on that trip from a photography perspective and I still find myself scrolling through the images that I took, even today.
Prior to that adventure, I would have classified myself exclusively as a landscape photographer but because we visited such a wide range of places, I challenged myself to capture new kinds of subjects and styles over the 7 month period. On reflection, I’d say that trip transformed my perceptions of photography and turned me into a very keen travel photographer.
How would you say social media contributes to your work?
Social media, more specifically Instagram, has a huge influence on my work. Not only does it allow me to interact with fellow travellers and photographers around the world, it fills me with inspiration. Through the people I follow, I get inspiration on new places to visit at home and across the globe, and it fills me with new ideas regarding photography techniques and editing styles.
Which places would you like to photograph in the future?
My photography destination wish-list is pretty long, but if I were to choose one place to visit and photograph, it would have to be Antarctica. It’s not easy to get to and this makes it a place that many people are likely never to see in their lifetimes. I’d love to travel there and lay eyes on the majestic icebergs and alien landscapes.
What camera do you use?
I currently shoot with a Fujifilm X-T20. A few years ago I owned and shot with a DSLR but I made the switch to the Fuji X-series and never looked back. I’ve slowly progressed through the X-series, starting with the X-E1, X-E2 and now the X-T20. I love the portability and image quality of the cameras; they are well suited to travel photography.
Which lens is your favourite?
I love my Fuji 35mm F2 prime lens. This lens is hands down the sharpest I own in terms of image quality and it is super lightweight, perfect for travel. With it being a fixed focal length, it makes me think about my shots a great deal before I hit the shutter button. I always carry it with me just in case.
What kind of tools do you use for post-processing?
Lightroom is where I do most of my editing, but I often add finishing touches on my phone using apps like VSCO, Touch Re-Touch and Priime before sharing my images on social media pages.
How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
When I got my first DSLR, I was really keen to learn how to use it better so I attended a photo-walk of Edinburgh with a professional photographer. I learned a great deal from that introductory session, covering the technical aspects of the camera, composition and lighting. This provided me with a good foundation level understanding of photography and since then, I have used self-taught techniques to better hone my skills.
As one would expect, the internet is a fantastic resource, full of useful guides and methodologies that can help amateur photographers better advance their skills. I subscribe to a few photography blogs and Youtube channels to learn more about specific aspects of photography and kit. As ever, trial and error is a key part of the learning process so it’s important to get out there and try out what you’ve learned.
Whose work has influenced you most?
Colin Prior, a famous Scottish landscape photographer, has probably influenced me most when it comes to photography. I remember seeing one of his landscape calendars when I was younger and being blown away with how he captured Scotland’s rugged landscape, particularly those in the north west of the country. Thinking about it further, I’d say that his images are the reason I wanted to get myself a better camera and take it up more seriously as a hobby. His images truly are exceptional and make me want to get out and climb the mountains of Scotland every time I lay eyes on them.
What advice would you give to other outdoor photographers?
My advice to other outdoor photographers is pretty simple; understand how to get the most out of your camera and do your research before visiting a location to photograph it. In terms of getting the most out of your camera, read the manual and get to know the various settings and features inside out. There’s nothing worse than carrying your gear to the top of a mountain only to find that the images could’ve been better if you knew how to set the camera up for the conditions you encountered.
In terms of research; where possible, look up the area and understand the lay of the land before you set foot outdoors. Understand where the light will be at the appropriate time of day and make sure you have the right gear for the conditions you are likely to encounter. If you cover those two bases then you should have a better chance of capturing the environment in the best possible way.