Whats your name and where are you from? Jesse Stafford. I am from San Diego, California originally.
How long have you been taking pictures? I have been taking pictures for as long as I can remember but I really began to get really passionate about photography about 5 years ago when I moved to London. It was such a different world from Southern California. I just felt inspired by the architecture and movement of the Capital.
When did you get into photography and why? My love for photography began when my family and I moved to London. We lived in Greenwich and one day I was walking home with my children from school and took an iPhone photo of the Old Royal Naval College. I posted it to my Instagram account and shortly there after received a message from a group called @London_Only. They really liked my photo and asked me to participate in their nightly hashtag postings. From there I got my first DSLR, a Nikon D3200, and started learning the tools of the trade by taking lots of photos and speaking with other photographers I respected, to learn how to take better photos.
What would you say your style is and has it changed throughout the years? If so why? I would say my style is Urban Landscape. I have always lived in large cities and capturing the hustle and bustle of a city leaves me with new ideas for capturing the fast pace of those places. I don’t think my style has changed that much over the years. I think it has been refined over time but I think trying to be consistent is important when it comes to building a portfolio of work. That being said, there are lots of images I have taken that I am very proud of but I don’t share.
How do you approach a shoot? Do you pre-plan or is it a click and run? I do a lot of planning ahead of time whenever possible. I spend a lot of time on Google maps planning shots and different weather apps to see what I can expect for a sunrise or sunset shot. There are times that I will grab the camera and go shoot now here in New York if it snows overnight or something like that. My preference by far though is to pre-plan as often as possible to make the most of my time out.
Is there an end goal you’re trying to achieve with your images, be it an aesthetic or story? I have never been one to overthink my shots or what I post. I try and stay pretty consistent in what I capture and post on social media but I will add the occasional beach photo or something like that from my travels. My goal is to show the beauty and movement of the world. I wouldn’t say I have an end goal in mind. I just really enjoy the craft and I am always looking to improve my skill set.
Do you have an influences you can share? The Streets! For the past few years I cannot plan a vacation/holiday, walk down the street in a city or check out other peoples images without thinking of ways I can get “the shot” everywhere I go. It drives my wife crazy but she said “I do” so she’s stuck with me.
What inspires you? I love architecture. I am inspired by movement. I love getting to a location to catch light trails where the traffic isn’t going in a straight line. I love curves and turns and intersecting lines. That is definitely something I miss about living in London. It’s harder to find those places in New York for me. I’m inspired by looking at other peoples work and trying to find a different angle or time of day in places I find interesting from their photos. They say that imitation is the best form of flattery and so should I end up taking a similar shot to someone else, I would hope they feel a sense of accomplishment in knowing they helped to inspire my shot. I know I do.
Is there such a thing as a bad photograph? Not at all. The best way to learn is to take those photos and to work on improving your technique. You might see the photo and change angles or go for a longer exposure, etc. If you are too worried about taking a bad photo you will never enjoy yourself I don’t think.
Are you looking for a career in photography or are you just having fun? I haven’t really ever thought about that before. As much as I would love to become a professional photographer who gets to travel the world and get paid for it, I am a husband and father first. I sell my photos online and that is a nice little stream of income but I truly just love to capture the image I see in my head. That is the greatest high for me.
Which social media platforms do you use and why? Mainly I use Instagram because of the community aspect of the app. I know that lots of people hate how it has changed from an algorithm standpoint and I totally understand why, but I can’t tell you how many great people and friends I have met through Instagram that I now meet in other parts of the world. It has really made the world smaller to me and that is what I love about it.
Which photographers do you mainly follow on social media? Lot’s of my London friends. They capture the Capital in all it’s glory. Some of my favourites are @levanterman, @mumhadoneofthose, @dimitar_hr, @mrkirby.photography, @portugeezer and @londonsfinesteye to name a few and really it’s hard to not name more.
What are your thoughts on mobile photography versus DSLR/ mirrorless? I have very limited experience with mirrorless cameras at the moment. The quality of the images I have seen has been amazing. I think for me, I don’t know that I could get used to the electronic viewfinder. I take a lot of night images and when I looked through one at night I wasn’t really impressed with the clarity of the image that was presented. I think mobile photography is a great and I find it to be really impressive that people are able to capture such astonishing images with their phones. My preference though is on the DSLR/Mirrorless side. I love long exposure photography and while you can catch some long expo images with your phone, I don’t feel they are nearly as good when it comes to that medium.
What’s your main go to camera, lenses and how did you make that choice? My main camera currently is the Nikon D7200. I love it. The quality of the image is fantastic and having the built in wifi feature always comes in handy. My favorite lens is my Sigma 10mm-20mm wide angle. I initially got my first Nikon, the D3200, on sale and I really like how simple they are to operate and moving from one version to another doesn’t require much time to acclimate yourself to.
What is your dream location to shoot at? I have been very fortunate in the fact that I have been able to travel to a lot of amazing cities and countries over the past few years. One place that I have not been to that I wish I had while I was living in London was Dubai. It just has this otherworldly, futuristic vibe that I really want to capture. Someday it will happen.
Describe your favourite picture and how you captured it? I think my favourite picture I have taken to date was during a sunrise in Budapest. I woke up at 4:30am and snuck out of my hotel room without waking the wife and kids which is amazing in it’s own right. I took the metro down to Batthyány Tér Station, which is across the Danube river from the Hungarian Parliament building. I was able to capture by far my greatest water reflection photo of one of the world’s most breathtaking buildings. I cannot describe the joy I felt in capturing that image because it made all the work to get the photo worth it.
In three words how would you describe your photography?
Urban, Beauty and Illuminated.
How would you describe the current scene in photography?
Crowded! There are so many options now for beginners and advanced photographers now in terms of equipment and in terms of paid work you can do.
How do you feel about better quality cameras being put into smart phones? I think it’s great that the camera quality has improved so much in phones. As a Father, I love that I can capture a moment in time with my children just carrying my iPhone around and still get a quality image or video without having to carry all my gear around.
What are your thoughts on expensive cameras? Do you think they create better images?
I think with expensive cameras you will get a boost in the quality of the image but I really feel like you can hand anyone a $10k camera and just because they have it doesn’t mean they will get better images. I think it really comes down to the person operating the camera, no matter what kind of camera it is, and their vision. That being said, if anyone feels like sending me a D850 or an a7riii, let me know and I will send you my address