What do you want to know about Trevor Penfold the photographer?
I could waffle on for ages covering every possible subject that you might want to know about me and risk boring you senseless. So to avoid that I thought I would just put some questions and answers together, that way you can just jump to the points that interest you without having to read the whole thing.
What does your job involve?
It’s quite multifaceted actually. I write, which has enabled me to publish two wildlife books, as well as writing articles for The PhotoHub – a photography group that I set up and manage, aimed at helping keen amateur photographers improve and develop their photographic skills. I have just launched a pet photography service too, to run alongside my commercial photography business. I’m also a keen educator running photography workshops and tours, both in New Zealand and overseas.
What’s your background?
Arrived in 1964 and I’m afraid the years seem to be ticking past a lot faster than I would like. I grew up in south-east England with my mum and dad, and my two sisters; and I have to admit that even now I still get a warped sense of pleasure in winding them up, but love them dearly all the same. My childhood was nothing out of the ordinary and even at a young age I had a love of animals. This grew from probably having many pets: dogs, cat, goldfish, lizards and a rabbit. Well, the rabbit was my sister’s which would probably explain why it attacked me at every opportunity.
Life ticked by and it seems like in no time I had finished school – done a four year electrical apprenticeship – became a self-employed electrician and builder – got married – became a dad and generally dealt with the usual day-to-day stuff life throws at you.
How did you get into photography?
It was my passion for wildlife and a trip to Africa, on our honeymoon, 20 years ago when it really all started. I wanted to capture images of the magnificent animals that we encountered on our safari, but with the little knowledge I had of photography at the time my images just didn’t do the wonderful animals the justice they deserved. But what it did do was it gave me the photography bug and since then I’ve strived to produce the best images I can. In 2007 I had developed my photography to a level that enabled me to have my first exhibition. It proved very successful and was the turning point that started my photographic career.
Why wildlife photography?
I guess I’m an animal lover at heart and I get a great sense of well-being whenever I’m around them. When it comes to wild animals I’m just in awe, the way they seem to be at one with their natural environment – and of course they’re part of it, all playing a crucial role. They come in a multitude of shapes and sizes, all beautiful in their own way and often, to me anyway, have their own character and personality. It’s this that inspires me to want to photograph them and share with others the wonder I have for them.
What other types of photography inspire you?
I also spend a fair amount of time shooting landscapes, often using different techniques to capture a sense of mood and atmosphere. For me a landscape comes down to interpretation and what you are trying to portray. Do you want a straight translation of what’s in front of you, or more of a creative approach to conjure up a particular emotion? Generally I prefer the latter, but both have their merits depending on the end use of the image.
What made you start running workshops and tours?
Frustration – not mine, but the keen amateurs that were struggling with their own photography and finding the whole thing quite daunting. Photography is about creativity and expression but unfortunately, in my opinion, some photography organisations (that I won’t mention) like to put everything into nice tidy boxes and if it doesn’t fit its then ‘wrong’. It was this attitude of people being told that if they didn’t do A, B and C then their images weren’t any good, that I found quite demoralizing. When you combine that with the million and one things modern digital cameras can do it’s no wonder frustration sets in. Photography is to be enjoyed – if you like what you have created, how can it be wrong? In my workshops and tours I try to cut through all the jargon and teach people different skills and techniques so they can decide how to apply them to their own vision, and in turn create their own style of photography.