Artist in Focus - Ben Wood
Ben Wood started his photography career in London at the age of twenty-one. He learnt his skills by assisting well-known photographers before establishing his own photographic studio in Clerkenwell, London.
In 2000, Wood left London and moved to the Isle of Wight, where he says he received his big break in marine photography, for which he is greatly admired. In 2001, barely a year after he moved to the small island, The America’s Cup Jubilee sailing regatta was held in Cowes. Wood spent the whole week photographing the elegant J-Class yachts exclusively in black and white.
Since then, Wood’s work has taken him all over the world and he has produced an impressive and diverse collection of photographs. His collection of sporting photographs are second to none and includes world class sailing at Cowes, motor-racing at Le Mans and horse racing at Chantilly and Longchamps. Also, with an eye for natural beauty, Wood is equally at home photographing landscapes, architecture and still lives.
How would you describe your photography?
I've been a photographer for 25 years so my work has gone through some subtle changes since I started in the 1990's. I'm best known for my black and white sailing work which at its best is graphic, sharply composed with a keen sense of place. With sailing photography you have little control over the light or the conditions. It's about time on the water and being patient, tenacious and prepared for the unexpected.
Who inspires you? Photographer, Artist or otherwise?
I spent five years training in London as an assistant and worked with some tremendous photographers such as David Bailey, Don Freeman, Sandra Lane and Tim Flach. I was like a sponge. I wrote everything down at the end of each day. At the same time I was heavily into 20th century American photographers such as Lee Friedlander, Joel Meyerowitz, Gary Winogrand. I was in my early 20's at this point and keen to develop my own style. Since then I've stuck with it. Ultimately my biggest inspiration would have to be Richard Avedon. When you boil it all down photography is about composition and Avedon was the master.How quickly do you work?
How quickly do you work?
It depends entirely on the subject matter. With intricate still life work I've spent days working on a particular photograph especially when there is model making and sophisticated lighting involved. You might do a couple of exposures the whole day. Conversely if I'm shooting a yacht regatta I can easily get through 1200 frames a day on the motor drive.
How do you feel when you work?
In the early part of my career when we still shot on large format film cameras I had access to a large studio in London. We worked slowly and methodically and there were was a relaxed tempo to any shoot because of the time restrictions incumbent on polaroid proofing and film processing. It was calm and rather tranquil as you honed in on the perfect shot. Digital photography has many advantages but shoots are more immediate and frenetic now. So in answer to the question less calm than I used to be!