Behind The Lens | Aaron Parsons Photography

By Kieran Webber

If you are based in the south-west then there is no doubt you have heard of Aaron Parsons Photography. Aaron has been working like an absolute madman for the past few years, growing in notoriety for his emotive wedding photography, impressive music photography and his storm chasing photography. He has been published in local and national newspapers and is a regular photographer at Glastonbury. His talent is matched by his ethic and it can be argued he is one of Cornwall’s premiere photographers.

Recently Aaron has moved to London where he is pushing his street and music photography as well as commercial photography. However, he still finds time to visit Cornwall regularly and provide us with his aesthetically pleasing images of the ocean and coastline.

We caught up with Aaron to discuss the infuence behind his work, what he aims to achieve and much more!

CLUNK: How long have you been a photographer and what drew you to photography?

Aaron: I have been into photography since the emergence of camera phones believe it or not. Ironically camera phones are now the bane of many pro photographers! However when I first got my hands on one at 16 years old I couldn’t believe you could take shots so easily on the move. I really got into capturing the Cornish coast with my dog and soon fell in love with photography in general. It wasn’t long before the camera phone disappointed in its quality (this was well before the iPhone people!). I soon upgraded to my first digital camera and took everything a bit more seriously, studying the medium at A-level and eventually at university in Cardiff.

It’s hard to know what exactly drew me to photography in a subjective sense, but I do know one aspect was encapsulating memories and, in some way, making things last forever. A psychologist would have a field day with my philosophy I know, but I have always had issues with change and things ending and photography certainly pacified this to some extent.

CLUNK: You have a particular fondness for storm chasing and photographing Mother Nature at her most powerful, but what is it that draws you to this?

Aaron: I never grow tired of photographing Cornwall and in particular the ocean. You could watch a thousand sunsets and each one would be different. Storms are now something of a fad in Cornwall but they were new for a while. If I remember correctly, the first storm I photographed had been reported on the news and online prior to hitting our shores. I headed to the website MagicSeaweed to see where would have the biggest waves and ultimately where I would go to shoot. This is now normal protocol for my storm chasing.

“I never grow tired of photographing Cornwall and in particular the ocean”

Extreme storms have become a common feature in our weather patterns, which sadly is likely to be down to Climate Change. This is a major factor in why I started capturing them unfold in the first place. By reporting the storms and connecting them to the environment I thought I could raise awareness through online media and the press. I soon realised for this to work, I had to get extreme shots that would be newsworthy, finding cool angles and landmarks in precarious locations. I have had some success and had work published in the local and national press including an article titled Wake Up and Smell the Climate Change in Surf Girl Magazine.

I do love photographing the storms as well. Beautiful photos are possible with the ocean throwing all sorts of shapes. And the adrenalin is like nothing else! Driving down a road and seeing 40ft waves rolling in to a little Cornish village is pretty awe inspiring. I am always keeping an eye on the forecasts so I’m ready for the next storm to hit. Sometimes it means getting up nice and early to get the best shots. For example, I left for Wales at 3 am when Storm Brian hit. It was worth it as the shot I got was published on the BBC News homepage.

CLUNK: Who are your personal influences for your photography?

Aaron: There are so many wonderful photographers out there today. Sometimes it puts pressure on me, especially with the rise of social media. I look at my phone and there’s someone’s shot of the Northern Lights with a polar bear standing on two paws pointing at the Milky Way. Ok, I’ve not quite seen that, but there’s a lot of competition and you can’t help but get caught up in the madness.

I admire the work of travel and ocean photographers Chris Burkard and Ben Thouard as well as National Geographic shooters like Paul Nicklen and Brian Skerry. I recently visited the Natural History Museum and it’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. It blew my mind! Skerry won 1st prize in the reptiles and amphibians category.

 When studying photography at university so many of the Magnum photographers inspired me and people like Martin Parr and David Bailey are legends of the game. Bailey’s famous John & Paul image is one of my favourites, it’s looking down at me from my wall as I write this!

Finally I have most recently got into the black and white, wildlife work of David Yarrow, his use of remote triggers has helped him gain some insane imagery. David and most of the photographers I have mentioned are very much environmentalists and ambassadors to the natural world. Their work is a massive asset to our environment and it’s future.

CLUNK: How would you describe your work?

Aaron: I guess I am an observer rather than an influencer. I tend to stand back and if it catches my eye I capture it. I am obsessed with light and chase it all the time be it at dusk or dawn. You can’t beat that golden hour! My style and work has been described as having empathy. This helps when photographing emotive and personal subject matter like weddings and family shoots but also when appreciating the finer things the world has to offer.

I don’t tend to confine my work to a specific genre but I love to document as naturally as possible, although over the last few years this has had to change at times. I have become far more involved with commercial photography, which can’t get much more different than capturing storms and landscapes. I find it challenging but that’s a good thing. I always want to develop my work and learn new things. This way of thinking has led me to working on projects with some amazing musicians, companies and brands in London and Cornwall.

CLUNK: What would you like to achieve with your photography? Why is photography special to you?

Aaron: I want to connect in the three dimensional sense of the word. It’s old news but I can’t help but feel disenchanted with the amount of time we spend on screens. They infuriate me even though a massive part of my life and work. I feel social media can often belittle art and photography as well as promote it. I want to reach out and collaborate with other artists and exhibit work instead of just posting it. I think there is a happy balance to find. It’s one of those double-edged swords for sure. I love people interacting with my work online and sharing it. It’s a tool that just 10 years ago didn’t exist and is the best way to get your work viewed on a large scale. My beef I guess is with the anti social side of social media, as well as how looking at screens a lot of the time feels awful!

“I feel social media can often belittle art and photography as well as promote it”

In terms of other ambitions, I have already been so lucky and traveled to some incredible places with work. I have visited California and Morocco with the Cornish based company Bodyboard Holidays, as well as New Zealand on my own time. I really want to see more of the world though. I have a huge list of places rattling around in my head and hope I can find work that takes me to some of them.

I am a passionate person who has when possible used photography as a tool for change. I don’t want photography to just be a means to an end. I want to be braver and experiment more, whether this is with ideas and projects or different styles of work within the industry. I’m always looking to collaborate with cool organisations and people. Photography can sometimes feel lonely, often working on your own and I would love this to change.

Photography is special to me as it’s my voice and my artistic, creative expression. My mum can paint and draw and my dad can write. I often thought, where are these awesome genes I should be getting? But in some way they have merged to form an eye for photography and that’s something I really want to continue and develop. I think with photography you are always learning and this will or at least should be the case when I’m old and grey.

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