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Steve Caplin talks to ePHOTOzine

Steve Caplin talks to ePHOTOzine - Steve Caplin works for a variety of national newspapers creating photo montages. Here's why he enjoys it so much.

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Photo by Steve Caplin
 Photo montage by Steve Caplin.
Leaving University with a degree in Philosophy and not knowing what he really wanted to do, Steve Caplin found himself playing a piano in a wine bar, wondering what to do for the rest of his life. After playing the ivory keys for far too long, he spent the next 10 years editing and designing magazines. After playing with some image manipulating software for a while, and running, and closing his own magazine, Steve ran into the editor of Punch and he started doing work for them twice a week. Now, he works for various newspaper titles creating photo montages.
I can't draw but I can use a mouse and Photoshop," explained Steve. "This allows me to be creative and do the work I enjoy doing.”
Steve gets asked to create a variety of things, in a variety of time limits. Deadlines are usually around three hours but there's the odd occasion where time is a very big restraint.
A few years ago, the Independent wanted me to produce a picture to go with an article about people becoming extinct. I had to produce an image of a naked man, in a glass box, in a museum, and I had 45 minutes to complete it. It's all very exciting when the adrenaline starts pumping - I do like the speed of newspaper work.”
Steve's created everything from fake newspaper front pages to glass boxes and most of the time his job is rather straight forward but there is the odd occasion where Steve will be given something a little more challenging or rather clichéd. Cakes and labels have become so common Steve asks the companies what colour icing they would like just to spice things up a little! Another problem is some ideas can be hard to grasp.
Photo montage by Steve Caplin
 The Top Gear team as women by Steve Caplin.
One newspaper said: can you do a picture of Gordon Brown taking money out of a pensioners pocket?  I said, how will that look any different to putting money in? It just shows that sometimes you need to take an idea and just re-think it a little.
Having a challenge may be fun, but Steve also enjoys the simple act of re-touching a photograph: “All the tricks I learn from using Photoshop come together for this, which is great.
Photo montage by Steve Caplin
 Photo montage by Steve Caplin.
He may know a thing or two about Photoshop but that doesn't mean he's learnt everything. Every time he teaches a new seminar or writes a new book, he discovers something he didn't know before. Question and answer session with students and his reader forum also produce questions he has to really think about.
I do a weekly challenge where I set a task and give a brief which gives people direction. It allows people to have a go at doing things they would never have thought about doing. New work is the best way to improve your work.”
With all the parodies Steve has created, you'd think he would receive a few complaints here and there but this isn't really so. He gets the occasional email telling him he's cruel to politicians but most of the people he features ring to ask if they can have the original piece.
They may like it but when I see the paper or magazine with my work in I always see the mistakes and things that I can make better. I could spend most days perfecting my mistakes but it's important to have a break for sanity's sake.
Sometimes Steve gets offered more work than he has physically time for and he has to turn things down, which, even after all this time, still hurts.
You know they have to go to someone else to get the piece done and it leaves you thinking: well, will they go straight to them next time? I'm a firm believer in making the most of your opportunities and I wish I could have a go at everything I am offered but you get to a point when you realise you can't. I'm a firm believer in making the most of your opportunities though – never forget to do that.
Photo montage by Steve Caplin
  Photo montage by Steve Caplin.

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