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Sean Batten Interview

We talk to Sean Batten, winner of the Sony WPA National Award.

| Professional Interviewed
Sean Batten Interview: Sean Batten
© Sean Batten, United Kingdom, 1st Place National Award 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into photography?
I'm a 41 year old photographer, originally from Bristol but now living in Surrey and working in London. I've been interested in photography for years and have had more Sony compact cameras than I can remember! Back in 2010, after a bit of peer pressure and encouragement from my wife, I bought my first DSLR and haven't looked back since!

What do you do for a day job?
I've been working as a C++ and C# software developer for the last 20 years. I typically work for financial institutions such as investment banks in the city and Canary Wharf, which is how I came to be in the right location to take the photo that won!

Congratulations on the Sony WPA National Award! How did you come up with the idea for your winning image?
I've always been interested in the architecture of the London Underground. I've recently upgraded to a full frame camera and took it into work one day in order to get some shots of Canary Wharf tube station which is one of the more modern stations on the line. I've always wanted to get a photo of the back exit as it's a more compact space where the roof looms over the escalators. I went at lunchtime and stood around waiting for the area to clear out of people and fired off some shots!

Tell us a bit about how it was taken.
It was a tricky shot to take as the inside of the station is quite dark whereas the sunlight was coming in through the glass roof making it difficult to get one decent exposure. I took three handheld shots (as you're not allowed to use a tripod on the underground) and combined them back home to get one image that covered the full dynamic range of the scene.

What kit do you use and why?
I used a Nikon D800 and a Nikkor 14-24mm ultra-wide angle lens in order to get as much of the space into the shot as possible and to fully capture the sense of scale.

What would you say is the main genre of images you photograph?
I tend to alternate between architecture photos and street photography. Working in London, and living near it, gives me plenty of opportunities to indulge in both!

How would you describe your style?
I'm not sure I've got one style, it very much depends on the subject and photo. If you look at my work then it could be a stark B&W architecture image one moment, a panoramic street shot, or a studio portrait shot. I like to try out a variety of things and if I see something inspiring from another photographer I'll usually give it a try. The next thing on my list is to try out some very-long exposure shots using some 10 stop Hitech filters I've just bought.

If you could give three top tips to someone starting out in photography, what would they be?

1. Don't be intimidated by all the options on the camera. Just put it into automatic mode and go and take pictures of things that interest you. As you get better you'll feel more confident about experimenting with the other features on the camera.

2. Upload your photos somewhere that they can be critiqued. Feedback from other people is a great way to learn and grow as a photographer.

3. At the end of the day you've got to get out there taking photos, so turn off the computer and go and take some!

Sean Batten won the National Award at the Sony World Photography Awards 2014, as part of his prize, he received a Sony Alpha 7 camera which combines a 35mm full-frame image sensor and lens interchangeability in a truly compact body. For more information, take a look at the Sony website.  

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