Most of the UK is obscure to the outside world. Visitors invariably congregate in London, which while magnificent couldn’t be more unlike the rest of the country. Little attention is given to the provinces; it’s difficult to see beyond the glare.
Those who do escape the Big Smoke quickly appreciate a completely different side to the UK: pleasant countryside, blustery coastal towns, stony beaches and green seas; a slower pace and fewer people.
The county of Suffolk, on the east coast of England, offers such scenes, and these have been captured in stunning clarity by local photographer Liam Frankland.
Speaking of his location, Liam says: “Suffolk is subtle. There is lots of farmland with wide open spaces and the odd things of interest. Even the beaches have this quality. You won’t see Pacific-style waves lashing at the shore here. I love this subtleness, it sets the scene for minimalist photography.”
Minimalism is one of the defining features of Liam’s work, which at times can feel remarkably emotive.
“Many people tend to feel emotion when they have described my work, which pleases me more than anything,” he says. “I have always described my work as lyrical as far back as I can remember, but I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing to achieve that. It’s quite possibly just in me to just be like that.”
Liam says that if he could choose any photographer in history to take his portrait, it would be Saul Leiter, because “he made great use of shallow depth of field and very minimal and graphic compositions.”
With regards to landscape photography, Liam says he doesn’t get too bogged down in other photographers’ work, “because it’s not their style that impresses me, but the locations that they’re fortunate enough to visit.”
He is, however, more inspired by other forms of the art. “I tend to be in awe of street photographers and documentary photographers. Some of [this type of photography] completely blows my mind, the random captures, the rapid capabilities to capture a composition with a high level of interest.
“I follow the work of William Klein, Ray K Metzker, Saul Leiter, Bruce Davidson, Martin Parr, Don McCullin. I’m blown away by Pentti Sammallahti. And I’ll throw Ansel Adams and Michel Kenna in there too.”
Liam seeks to apply the impulsive nature of street photography to his landscape shots. “I’m completely spontaneous. I will continue to walk and shoot even when the light is fading. That is totally against the landscape ethic and more like a street photographer, but I have taken some of my best shots this way.”
He believes the core success of a photograph comes down to composition, and that while other factors come into play, if you can nail the composition, you nail the photograph.
Many photographers claim that to click the shutter is just the start of the creative process and that being skilled in post-editing is crucial to creating an effective finished product, and Liam certainly shares this school of thought.
“Most of the great photographers were skilled in the dark room, and this came hand in hand with their work. The same applies to the digital darkroom. My post-processing varies from image to image, but I do usually apply a vignette. This helps to convey a more closed and personal feeling, like an observation or waking from a dream.”
Ultimately, Liam’s love for photography stems from the freedom it gives him to exercise his creativity. “It’s the perfect medium for me to create with,” he says. “I’ve always been interested in framing scenes. I’ve always enjoyed peering through objects or structures, moving slightly to see the view change.
“Photography is just an extension of that, but it allows me to record what I’m seeing.”
“For landscapes I use a Canon 7D with a few lenses, but I favour prime lenses. I tend to use a 50mm F/1.8 MK1 and a 20mm F/1.8 most of the time. I do have a 10-20mm lens which comes in handy for a lot of shots. I use a range of ND filters for long exposures and with this I use a tripod and cable release. Recently I have been using a Fuji x100 for street photography.”
If you would like to see more of Liam’s photography, check out his website at liamfrankland.com.