The Photographic Journal Interview: Oliver Charles

How did you become interested in photography?

I’ve always been an artistic person and viewed things in maybe a different way to other people, but it wasn’t until about 4-5 years ago that I discovered photography, probably through finding the work of Sally Mann and Norman Jean Roy, that I discovered a whole new world of visual art. I was fascinated by the way these artists were able to capture a specific moment in time that couldn’t be recreated and I somewhat wanted to create my own little worlds from my own imagination and photography was an outlet for me to do that.


How you find their work?

Searching all over the Internet for different imagery which I was fascinated by, which then led me on to discovering young photographers on Flickr such as Alex Stoddard and Rosie Hardy- making me join the website myself.

Were you doing any kind of art before that? Did picking up a camera seem daunting in the face of their work?

I was very into painting and still am, but I wouldn’t say I’m able to create imagery like I can with photography. Although, famous painters are a great inspiration when it comes to my work and I like to incorporate painterly styles to my images.

When I first started out I would say it wasn’t daunting, but I was more inspired by what they were creating and wanted to learn and create as much as I could to produce work as beautiful as theirs.

into the forgotten

How’d you go about figuring out how to pull off the conceptual styles Rosie and Alex utilize?

Completely trial and error. I never used any kind of tutorials, I wanted to figure out everything on my own and use every tool I could possibly use, which I’m still discovering new ones today; whether that be in-camera settings, or editing techniques. I then carried forward the techniques which worked out well, and tried to improve on the ones that didn’t- which over a period of time, lead me to the style of photography I create today.

And what is it you’re after in an image? Are you structuring a narrative?

The images I make are essentially a visual of my imagination- and I create worlds from my imagination which are somewhat more interesting than reality, that the viewer can be transported to for a short moment. I also try to create emotional images, which the viewer can connect to and feel a sense of happiness/sadness when they do, similar to what I may have been feeling when I created the image. I want an image I create to tell a million different stories, and hopefully the viewer can create one of their own when they view it.

Are you still finding yourself inspired by other photographers, or do you pull from other places?

Of course, work I see from other photographers is always inspiring to me and makes me want to go outside and shoot like nothing else. I also seek inspiration from music, almost always editing my images listening to songs which I want the mood to reflect. Film is also something which I find inspiring, and tend to create visuals based around concepts from films I love.

wild horses


Do you ever get the urge to make films?

I think I would like to try it out more in the future but from what I’ve tried already, it hasn’t proven to be my strongest craft!

What haven’t you liked about the films you’ve already done?

I think maybe I haven’t invested enough time in making films for them to be of quality, although I enjoy doing it so hopefully in the future I will get an opportunity to spend more time on it

And do you have a plan…do you have a professional goal for the next few years?

I wouldn’t say I have a plan necessarily, I have goals which I would love to achieve and have set myself, but I never really like to plan my future, but instead prefer to live for the present and do what I can to make my future as best as possible. I guess for the next couple of years my goals would be to continue doing what I love and taking pictures, to travel around the world and hopefully have another exhibition.

alive in the air
left behind

Do you have a sense for where you want to improve as a photographer, what aspects you want to work on?

I think I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my work and I’m my harshest critic, so I’m constantly trying to improve my images and I always want my next image to be my best one.  As far as direction goes, I would say I’m heading towards fashion photography, but I’m always going to have a fine art element to my work as the more conceptual and gritty side to photography interests me the most. I never like to create a direction for my work though as it normally ends up not working, I think it’s important to go along with what’s working best, improving on what isn’t working, and to push yourself to experiment.


For more in-depth interviews with fantastic photographers, check out The Photographic Journal