All photos by Nick Pumphrey.
Nick Pumphrey does not mess around.
There’s this group chat, see. It’s the Together Again judges plus myself and another salaryman and we basically use the thing to discuss our secrets. It’s very exclusive, as I’m sure you can tell. No jokes or discussion of what everyone’s having to drink at the moment permitted. Strictly business. You even need to know either a handshake and verbal password or the passwords to our respective phones’ so you can navigate to the WhatsApp icon just to even to see it.
Nick is the king of that chat. Whenever there’s a question, he’s the first to offer some advice. Need a reminder that some deadline you already missed needs to be taken care of? Nick’s already reminded us before we’ve even thought about snoozing the alarm another time. Not too difficult to believe, if you know just how much of a smooth operator Nick is. National Geographic, Globe, The Guardian. You name it, Nick’s probably been there.
Oh, but the basics! Nick is a photographer from St Ives, Cornwall. Growing up there he was surrounded by artists, surfers, and travelers, an upbringing that inspired him into becoming the person he is today. At the age of 18, Nick went on his first trip away to ride waves and take photos. “I often joke that I am on my 22nd gap year,” he tells us. “Slowly managing to blend passion and livelihood.”
His creative mission today is to capture images that document nature, the beauty and fragility of the sea, coastal culture, and the inspiring characters that roam those areas. In a perfect world (and, come on, let’s be real, it’s not all that bad) he wants his work to come from the heart and to evoke some kind of emotion in my audience.
We asked him some questions about it. Here’s what he has to say.
Wasted Talent: Was there ever a point early in your life where you went, “Oh, wow, well I’m a photographer now.”
Nick Pumphrey: In my early life I always wanted to be a photographer but did not have the self-confidence to see it through. I would do safe jobs to bring in the coin and do photography on the side. It was not until I was around 35 that I committed wholeheartedly to photography and at 43 it is still all I do. So now yes I do have those, “Oh wow, well I’m a photographer now,” moments and they feel good.
WT: What do you think you’d be doing now if you never picked up a camera?
NP: Probably painting. I went to art school and they suggested then that I do photography too. So yeah the original love was art, paints ‘n brushes.
WT: Quick, you’re going on a big trip tomorrow morning to your favourite part of the world and you didn’t know until now. Also, every weather app ever is down for some reason so you have no reason how things are going to be. What kind of equipment are you packing?
NP: I’m keeping the bag light, two bodies, a 24mm a 85mm, and a 70-200mm (the workhorse).
WT: Was there ever a moment you snapped a shot, looked back, and went, “Holy shit, did I actually get that?”
NP: Yes, when I was in Bali. I photographed a woman swimming with a manta ray, upon putting it onto the screen it soon became apparent, the plastic pollution in the image. The photo got used all over the place for its impact from non-profit organisations to National Geographic. It was one of those special photos and a lucky moment.
WT: What’s the biggest thing people don’t know about your particular day, “On the job?”
NP: I’m always nervous. Someone once told me it’s good to be nervous because it means you give a fuck! Well, I do.
WT: For all the young and aspiring photographers out there: do you think it’s better to study, study, and study and refine your craft or get out there, do odd jobs, and gain experience and hope to figure things out along the way?
NP: Don’t worry about the study part too much, most of the photographers I know who are super successful are all self-taught. Get out there, enjoy it, listen to those who offer advice and don’t be afraid to experiment and get things wrong, that is the only way to learn. Above all make sure you are enjoying it.
WT: Let’s say you win this contest, which you technically can, it just would make a lot of people very angry, but, yes, let’s say you win, and you had $1000 to spend at your favourite camera shop, what are you buying?
NP: Probably a prime lens, it’s all about the glass.
A brief programming note, here: our gallery opens up on the 29th of this November at the Wasted Talent Studio. We’ll be showcasing all our Together Again shortlisters there. All in one of those wonderful frames provided to us by Blank Prints. We’ll hold one of those parties where beers are cold and lots of smiles are had, of course. We’ll pick our overall winner then there. One-thousand dollars at a camera shop of your choice and a chance to be included in Wasted Talent Vol. X are on the line. See you then.