Simon Morris, or BURNBLUE
, takes stunning travel portrait photos all over the world. He is a nurse, and works within the realm of mental health in Cardiff. Besides photography he loves music, art and films. His photography, which is generally travel based, is influenced by all these mediums.
How did you get into photography?
I firstly got into photography around 10 years ago on a trip to New York. I snapped anything and everything that moved on a little point and shoot camera. I purchased a digital SLR shortly after, and my photography progressed from there, going hand in hand with my love of travel and visiting exotic locations.
What draws you to the people and locations that you photograph?
I am drawn to far flung locations because I enjoy meeting people from different cultures. In many of the locations like China, time has seemingly stood still, and capturing something that looks like something from a bygone age is very satisfying. I believe my photography serves a purpose of transporting others there, who cant reach long distance locations. Those who look at my work can live the experience of being there through my work. In fact I believe we all yearn for the past when things were perhaps more simpler and straight forward. I am drawn to anything that has beauty, anything that is interesting or moving in some way. It could be a Burmese monk praying in a temple, or a simple bike on the streets of Rajasthan India. For me it's about telling the story and connecting with the subject and the viewer.
How do you go about finding your locations and approaching people that you'd like to photograph?
My technique for taking pictures of people is simple. If I find someone I think will take a good picture I will ask them, or nod in most situations. Other times I take a persons picture without them knowing, they are the best images, the unguarded moment. In fact I really dislike seemingly staged shots! Keep it natural if you can, or at least spend some time with the person getting to know them.
What I do know is that when ever I travel I walk a lot, afraid that if I don't go down a certain alley or walkway then am going to miss something productive or worthwhile. I like to think that I go the extra mile to achieve great shots. My Dad always says the best shots are always the hardest to take, you have to invest something in taking them.
Do you travel alone?
Yes I always travel alone. That way if I want to stay longer or shorter in any given location then I can do so, and not be holding to another this way. Also I think being alone gives you a certain mind set and an edge in a way. I feel I can concentrate more and strive greater for what I'm looking for in a location.
Have you ever found yourself in any dangerous or scary situations?
Never felt threatened by violence in any way, except a monkey throwing a rock at me from a rooftop in Jodhpur India once!
However, I saw a ceremony in Bundi India once which involved an individual cutting himself with a sword across his body, face, and tongue whilst others chanted and sang, he was covered in blood. I didn't feel threatened but there was a tense and charged atmosphere, with the crowd willing him to greater acts of self harm.
Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
To set up a shot, is kind of difficult to say, because all situations are different and call for different approaches. However there are certain things that I desire when taking a portrait like image and that's mood or atmosphere. I hate harsh light, and touristy traps. I work early morning or late afternoon, when the light is gentle and subdued, low light in other words. I am a big fan of the humble 50 mm lens, great in low light, and where you're always fighting for speed. It is excellent with my Nikon D3. Atmosphere and mood is way to go for me, so things like low light, water, smoke, old villages, ancient ceremonies, ancient customs are all going to be worthwhile checking out.
Take a look at BURNBLUE