Pheasants at Sunset

As we creep into Autumn here in the UK we took time out to talk to Matthew Thomas, winner of the Bring Home the Harvest category in 2017 for his image ‘Pheasants at Sunset’

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Image Description: After the shoot, the pheasants are transported through the hills of the South Downs and back to the house.

Technical: Sony A7r2, ISO 250, 1/320 sec, f5.6, 24mm

Please tell us more about capturing your Finalist image. For example, what was happening around you, what inspired the shot, what time of day, challenges you had in capturing it.

It was my first commission to photograph a traditional pheasant shoot on the South Downs and quickly I found the main challenge was anticipating where the action was going to come from - I did a lot of running around! 'Pheasants at Sunset' happened just before lunch. Everyone was packing up ready to go. The guy towing the trailer with the pheasants on it was about to pull away when I saw the opportunity and raced over to capture the photograph. I just had time to wind up the aperture to 5.6, adjust focus and shoot before he drove off - he wasn't about to hang around for me!

What was it about the image that you feel fitted the category so well?

I suppose pheasant shoots can be a bit controversial but I just loved the colours of the birds and the light - it was a beautiful, if slightly morbid sight.

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How does it feel to be a Finalist for the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2017?

Very encouraging indeed - I'd recommend it as a great way of testing the quality of your work against top photographers worldwide.

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What would you say attracts you most to the photography of food?

I like eating! The big challenge for me when I photograph food is to make it seem to taste and smell delicious through an image alone.

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What are your thoughts on the cultural impacts of new smartphone apps on the photography sector? Positive, negative, no impact? Why?

I think they are enabling many more people to experiment with photography and capture some great shots, which has to be a good thing. Personally my aim is always just to find the best way of capturing the images I've first seen in my imagination. Anything that makes that easier has to be a good thing. One day someone will come up with a phone app that can produce 100MB medium format shots with a F1.4 15 - 400mm lens that can see in the dark. When they do, I want to be the first in the queue to buy it!

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Which photographers, if any, have most influenced your work?

I love the spontaneity of Henri Cartier Bresson - I'm not sure I could go as far as to say his work has influenced mine, but it's certainly been inspiring. Similarly, Edward Weston for his innovation.

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Please tell us a little about where you live and if, at all, how it influences your photography.

I've moved around quite bit and I find I tend to use photography as a way of getting underneath the skin of a place - to capture its personality and understand how the location works. I currently live in Arundel, West Sussex - a small, town surrounded by fabulous countryside. Most of my photography recently has been about Sussex, particularly recording rural life here.

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Matthew, please tell us about any exciting projects you have been working on recently?

I am currently working on a wonderful project which is a commission to record a year in the life of a large country estate in Sussex. The brief it pretty open-ended, which is brilliant for me. I'm getting to meet and photograph all sorts of interesting people, explore unusual places and see 'behind the scenes' on traditional lifestyles which are rarely in the public eye. If all my work is like this in future, I'll be a very happy man!

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If you would like to connect with Matthew visit:

Website:  www.thehighwoods.co.uk

Twitter: @MJTPhotographer

Instagram: @mjtphotographer

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