October 7, 2010 by N@
Originating from the UK, William Long studied both the performing and visual arts. Starting his professional life as a performer, resulting in a 17 year career as a Principal Ballet Dancer with The Scottish Ballet.
William’s photographic career effectively began in 1975, quickly establishing a niche market in Europe, within the highly specialised field of ballet & performing arts photography. His work evolved to include a varied range including corporate, commercial & advertising photography.
The 1990’s brought about a permanent move to Australia, forming Longshots Photography; concentrating on the exciting and varied world of Corporate, Industrial, Advertising and Studio photography.
How long have you been picking up a camera?
Amazingly its been over 35 years now. I’m not sure if I’m surprised as to how old I am, or the fact that in photography, there is always something new to discover or learn, so you barely notice the time going by.
Did you always know that you wanted to be a photographer?
No. I wanted to be a dancer from the age of 5. And after a similar style “Billy Elliot” story, I joined a leading theatre school in London, moved to Rambert Ballet School as a student, joined Northern Ballet as a soloist, and then moved on to become a Principal Dancer with The Scottish Ballet. It was because of the move from Northern to Scottish, that I had 4 weeks holiday wages due to me from Northern, and I was starting with Scottish. So like any other young guy with too much money in my pocket, I blew it all on a whim of wanting a camera. A Nikkormat with a 50mm lens. Brilliant, the thing was bomb proof it was so well built.
What is your speciality as a photographer?
Well I bought the camera, because I was frustrated by photographers not understanding the technicalities of dance/ballet. And I innocently believed that I could have a go, considering I did understand ballet. I soon found that other dancers, and then other dance companies were buying my work or commissioning me to shoot their next production. And because of that, I began to have a dual career, as a ballet dancer and performing arts photographer.
Once my camera was bought, almost immediately, I started to photograph my fellow dancers in rehearsals and class, and it was like a light bulb moment, when I decided after the 2nd or 3rd roll of film, that I was going to be a dance photographer. And thats what developed, a speciality market, where my dance training, experience and knowledge gave me a much higher edge over any non dancing photographer . And so I now photograph heavy industrial sites and buildings…… ah the never ending journey of discovery.
When your not shooting for clients, what kind of images do you like to shoot?
Most of my work would now be labelled as “Commercial”.
I love architecture, and heavy industry, but I enjoy shooting just about anything really.
You have been an international judge for many years now, how did you first get into judging?
I remember it was about 17 or 18 years ago, I was asked if I would like to judge at Qld Pro Photography Awards, and then I think the same year at APPA. I’ve been a deputy chairman of jurors at APPA’s and chairman of jurors at Qld level numerous times. I also panel chair at National and State awards. I enjoy judging at any level.
Do you think there are extra considerations to be made when entering an International versus Local competition?
Not not really. The formula, if there is one, to ensure that what you’re entering is the very best work you can enter, and that its flawless in the production. At the end of the day, the subject matter can be hugely subjective and what will appeal to one judge, may not appeal to another. Which is why I think that the APPA and IAA judging systems work so well.
It’s been said many times that entering a competition is more than just winning. What do you take out of a competition when you enter?
What I get out of it is the satisfaction of continuing that photographic self motivation, that constant push to produce something that would be an award image, not just in my eyes, but in the eyes of the judges.
What are the first 3 things you look at in your images when you enter a competition?
Composition, Subject Matter, Light.
What advice would you offer photographers entering a competition for the first time?
Have a go. Check everything. Put your print up on the wall and stare it for a week or longer. Seek alternative viewpoints, and importantly don’t justify your reason of liking it, just listen to all views and opinions. Some of the best advice I’ve received is from those who have no involvement in photography. Although I never thought I would say this, winning isn’t everything, taking part is the most important part. Photographic competitions aren’t similar to a simple athletic race, but are judged on so many subjective variables, that a winning image from one competition isn’t necessarily going to be judged as high in another.
You can find out more about William at http://www.longshots.com.au
Entries to The 2010 International Aperture Awards close on 15th October.