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ePHOTOzine Interview With Actor Bill Ward

When he's not on our TV screens or on stage, Bill Ward likes to get out and about with his Pentax kit.

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ePHOTOzine Interview With Actor Bill Ward: Bill Ward

Image © Bill Ward

Hi Bill! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you discovered photography.

I've always taken a lot of photographs and I probably started taking pictures when I was about 6. My parents gave me a Kodak Instamatic, and I took loads of pictures of the usual boy stuff: family, dogs, cars... that type of thing. My mum told me once that if I took any more pictures of cars she'd stop buying the film. I went travelling a lot in my twenties, often on my own, and I always took my camera (a Praktica MTL5B – brilliant camera, virtually indestructible). Having a project like that when you're travelling is brilliant; it always gives you a purpose, gives you something to do wherever you are, gives you a reason to sit in markets all day people-watching, soaking it all up.

More recently, about 6 years ago, I was doing an acting job out in Montreal in Canada, a TV pilot for a new secret agent drama (sort of Spooks meets Dempsey and Makepeace - brilliant fun). At the end of filming, I was contracted to wait for 3 months to see if it went to series, which meant 3 months when I was unable to take any other acting work. As a result, I went back to the UK and set myself a photography project: Winter, as seen from the beach. Pretty much every day for about 3 months (November - February) I went up and down the East coast of the UK and took photographs. In every conceivable weather: snow, sun, hail, blizzards, screaming winds etc. It was actually the coldest winter for 30 years. I loved it and at the end of it, I had a much better set of pictures than I'd expected I would have. So, I put them together, turned them into an exhibition and things have sort of gone on from there.

ePHOTOzine Interview With Actor Bill Ward: Bill Ward 2

Image © Bill Ward 

As an actor, do you get much free time to get out and shoot?

It depends what type of work I'm doing. With theatre jobs, you tend to have a very intense period of rehearsal, line learning etc. when you have to concentrate on that and only that for the duration of the rehearsal period, but once a show is up and running, there's often a fair bit of time during the day (and occasionally after a show at night) when you can get out and about and take pictures. Film/television jobs are different in that they're more irregular; when they're busy they're very, very busy, but once it's calmed down a bit and I've learnt my lines etc, I often try and get out with my camera for a few hours, wherever I happen to be.

You take a lot of beautiful slow shutter speed landscapes and seascapes. What draws you to these kinds of photos?

That's a good question. I think there's a few things: Firstly, I've always loved being outside, but particularly around water: I'm originally from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and spent a lot of time when I was growing up running along the massive Northumbrian beaches. I've always loved the feeling of space you get there. We used to go on holiday to Cornwall and I'd do a similar thing there. So I've always spent a lot of time on beaches (particularly cold, windy, wet ones), and feel very comfortable there. With or without a camera, I get to the sea whenever I possibly can.

Secondly, I've got a bit of a thing about History. I have a degree in it and I'm from a part of the world where there's an awful lot of it. Faded glory, things that were once great... that kind of thing, all loom pretty big on my radar so I find I'm often drawn to that kind of subject matter when I'm taking photographs.

Finally, I suppose one of the things about my day job is that it can sometimes be quite a pressurised environment so for me, getting outdoors, and particularly getting to the sea, is as good a way as any I've found to help balance that all out – ying and yang, and all that. It's like taking a massive deep breath, and letting it go very slowly and I suspect all that at some level shows up in my pictures.

ePHOTOzine Interview With Actor Bill Ward: Bill Ward 3

Image © Bill Ward

Tell us a bit about your Pentax Ricoh kit and why it suits you.

Before I was an actor, I spent a decade as a Strategic Planner/Account Director working for various well known Advertising Agencies. One of those was Saatchi and Saatchi, who happened to be Pentax' ad agency at the time, and I managed to get a very good deal on one of their cameras and a couple of lenses. I've stayed with them ever since as I tend to find their cameras are very solid, very well built and very intuitive, plus with all the weather sealing etc. they are particularly well suited to the conditions I usually find myself shooting in (cold, wet, seaspray, rain, snow etc.). 

You also take some lovely night city scapes. How do you scout out and prepare for location shots like these?

I just try to keep my eyes open, really. I walk a lot. One of the things that doing a lot of travelling teaches you is to stay curious and to keep looking. Plus, I suppose one of the bonuses of working a lot in the evenings and at night in cities is that you often have the days to get out-and-about. You can look around, try and find things you haven't seen before, investigate alleyways, steps etc. and then, if you have to, go back when the light's a bit more interesting. If I find a place I like, I'll just keep going back under various conditions and see what Mother Nature has to offer.

ePHOTOzine Interview With Actor Bill Ward: Bill Ward 5

Image © Bill Ward

How would you describe your photographic style?


Do you have any top tips for beginning photographers looking to get that great landscape shot?

A few, I suppose. Get up early, stay out late and look for things that say something specifically to YOU. Remember to look up, look down, look behind you and remember there's no such thing as bad weather. Stay open: some of the best pictures I've taken have been when I've originally gone out to photograph something else. But most of all, simply enjoy and appreciate the landscape for what it is and what it has to offer. We still live in a very beautiful world and if you happen to get a great shot too, that's a bonus.

Are there any areas of photography that you haven't tried that you'd like to have a go at?

Gosh, yes, loads. The one which interests me most at the moment is ICM (Intentional Camera Movement). Partly because I've spent a fair amount of time taking long exposures over the last few years and in many ways it's a natural progression, but also because I'm interested in the Impressionistic nature of it.. It can be very “revealing” of a place, particularly emotionally which I rather like.

Find out more about Bill and his photos on the Ricoh K-3 Ambassadors page

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