Inspirations (2): Conor MacNeill (The Fella)
Welcome to the "Inspirations" series, interviewing photographers who produce consistenly amazing content.
Meet Conor MacNeill, or "The Fella" as he is known to his social media followers. Conor was one of the first photographers I came across when I first joined Flickr five years ago. I was drawn to his fantastic London Cityscapes, and seeing these images actually made me focus on my own desire to capture Londons landmarks.
Since then, Conor has become a world recognised travel photographer, capturing stunning images across the globe.
You can find Conor across the web at the following sites:
Above: A Bridge of Two Halves (One of the first London images I discovered by Conor)
Q} I first discovered your work when searching for London based images on flickr, what is your favourite London landmark to photograph?
I think the landmark I've photographed most has to be the iconic Tower Bridge. To be honest, I haven't really gone shooting around London in a long time. Having lived here for 10 years now, I feel less inspired by the city.
Q} You have an absolutely huge following on Instagram of over 194K. Has this platform been the most important for building your brand / business in photography?
For getting paid jobs and global recognition, Instagram has been crucial for my photography. That said, I have a soft spot for Flickr, although exposure on this platform doesn't really lead to any jobs or opportunities, at least in my case.
Q) When did your appetite for travel start, and did your interest in photography emerge at the same time?
My interest in photography actually stemmed from my desire to travel. I wanted to do a lot of travelling on my own, but was concerned that I might end up getting bored on trips if I had nothing to do, so I bought a cheap camera (Canon EOS 500D) online and thus started my passion for photography.
Above: The Lost Plane (Iceland)
Q} You have recently taken on Photography as a full time job, was that a scary transition?
It was pretty scary and still is! I'm still in my first year of being freelance and really just in my first six months of actively seeking primary work through photography. The scariness and sense of unknown can be unnerving, but also quite exciting.
Q} I see that you are aiming to visit every country in the world, how many countries have you visited and what is the next destination?
So far I've gone to just over 50 countries I think. To some people that sounds like a lot, but it's only around a quarter of the world's nations, depending on how you define a country. My next immediate trip is a bit of an unknown. Perhaps a scouting trip to the Faroe Islands. I'm also aiming to hold another workshop in Iceland in the winter and have a shoot for a travel company in Japan later in the year.
Above: Crooked Timber (Namibia)
Q} And following on from the previous question, what has been the most rewarding country you have visited?
That's a tricky question. Photographically, I think I've gotten most images from Iceland. As an astrophotographer, I've found Namibia to have stunningly clear views of the Milky Way. As a traveller, I really enjoyed Burma, as it's still quite raw and not overrun with tourists.
Q} How would you advise a photographer to “stand out from the crowd” in such a competitive industry?
It's really difficult to be distinct and attract attention to your work these days, as everyone considers themselves a photographer. Being an early adopter of new sites can help, as it gives you a head start. Social media can really boost your profile, but it's best not to rely solely on it. I think you should know what type of work you enjoy and become passionate and technically adept at it.
Q} What are the greatest lengths you’ve gone to in order to capture that “perfect shot”?
Due to the nature of my photography, a lot of my shots have required great lengths, whether this is getting up stupidly early to capture twilight or hiking miles into the middle of nowhere to get a unique composition. I've shot in temperatures ranging from -30 degrees to 50+ degrees and stayed up over 40 hours just for photography. Maybe one day I'll get the perfect shot!
Above: The Colours of Penang (Malaysia)
Q} Capturing sunrises and images across the globe must take some serious commitment, how do you stay motivated to create consistently great work?
Thanks for the compliment! I think the motivation comes from the combination of the travel and photography. Sometimes there's a place I really want to photograph and will travel all the way there. Other times, I'll be travelling and come across something so beautiful that I have to take a photo and attempt to capture it. They feed into each other as pastimes.
Q} What is your personal favourite image from your portfolio?
I get asked this question a lot, either by friends or in interviews. My answer changes depending on my mood! At the minute, it's probably my photo of a quiver tree forest under the Milky Way. One of the few that I had printed out for myself was a black and white landscape from Indonesia (Waterfall of Light).
Above: Quiver Trees (Kokerbooms) under the Milky Way in Southern Namibia
Above: Waterfall of Light (Indonesia)
Q} Which destination would you never get bored of visiting?
I tend not to revisit many places, so I've no idea how repeat exposure might affect me. I've been to Iceland around three or four times and I'm still not bored of it, so I guess that's my answer at the minute!
Q} Have you ever witnessed an amazing moment, but not had your camera to hand?
I've witnessed plenty of these moments! I often will have my phone with me, but sometimes I just like to enjoy it and feel happy that I've at least seen it with my own eyes.
Above: The Frozen Teeth of Godafoss (Iceland)
Q} What photographers do you look up to, or have influenced you?
I think my biggest influence has been Dave Morrow. He's not only an amazing photographer, but also one of my best friends. We go shooting all around the world together. I look up to Greg Annandale, as he's not only a good photographer, but also a seasoned traveller and accompanies me on plenty of trips. Jay (Vulture Labs) really inspires me with his monochrome long exposure work. There are very few photographers working at his level.
From a mobile photography point of view, I've really admired Dan Rubin (@danrubin) (who I run workshops with) and Tyson Wheatly (@twheat).
Above: Monkey Business (Malaysia)
Thanks so much to Conor for providing such great answers to my questions, and allowing me to showcase just a small selection of his amazing portfolio. More "Inspirations" interviews coming soon!