Dave Newton, affectionately known as Dave Newton here in the thinkTank head offices of all things bloggery, has kindly taken some time out to talk to us about the where, who and how of “David Newton” for which we are very thankful!
Dave is a Sandisk Extreme Team member, he runs EOS Network along with Brian Worley, has presented on all things EOS on many stages and is an inspiring professional photographer.
PhotoPositive | EOS Magazine | Canon Professional Network
PhotoPlus – Canon Edition | Photography Monthly
Dave has also written technical and marketing material for both Canon and SanDisk.
Sime – A lot of people I read about talk of how one of their parents or peers had a camera and as a result they began their journey into photography – tell me about your journey from that moment where you’d been photographing anything and everything, and then something clicked in your head and you knew it was going to become “what you do” …or did it happen differently?
Dave – I’d always wanted to be a marine biologist. From the age of 7 it’s all I talked about. By 9 I knew which university I wanted to go to and duly at 18, I did. Photography hadn’t really been a part of my life until then – I’d had the odd point and snap, but that was as far as it went. The uni I choose to go to was Bangor, North Wales. Despite the bad rep that North Wales gets it is a stunning part of Britain, with mountains, countryside and seaside all in very close proximity – and decided I ought to take some pictures of it. The guy in the room opposite me in halls was into photography, as was a friend from my course, so these factors combined and I took my first student loan check to buy a camera. I then read every magazine going and wasted a lot more of my student loan buying and processing film! But I was hooked. Over the three years of my course, I still really enjoyed my marine biology but more and more got the feeling I didn’t want it as a job – plankton and algae really didn’t float my boat, if you’ll excuse the pun. I finished my course and was looking around for what to do next when a friend handed me a copy of New Scientist. In it was an advert for a brand new post graduate MSc course in Biological Photography and Imaging at Nottingham University. It was a one year course and they were looking for six guinea pigs to be the first students. To get on the course you needed a science background, so my Marine Biology degree came in very handy. I was accepted to the course and spent the following year working 18hr days learning about everything from darkroom processing to digital imaging, film making to scanning electron microscopy and everything in between. Basically if is was scientific (or could be made to be!) and involved images, we covered it in some form or other. It really set me up for life after uni. After that I went to a wildlife picture library where I was a Picture Editor and then from there to EOS Magazine as Technical Editor writing techy articles and the like. I went freelance about three years later and made a conscious decision – there were many thousands of wannabe photographers like me, and I *really* didn’t want to shoot weddings. I had also discovered the ability to present and understand complex technical things about cameras and explain them in simple ways to other photographers. Rather than be another photographer on the pile, where I’d risk losing the passion for shooting through having to take assignments I didn’t want, I thought it was better to go down the writing and training route where there were fewer people and where I could keep my photography for me, shooting what I want, when I want. That’s not to say I don’t take commissions – far from it, I do, but only if it’s a subject that interests me and the client is willing to pay sensible money for it.
Sime – I remember the feeling I had when photographing Metallica, a crazy euphoric sense of “Yeah, you’re really doing it***” Have you had a ‘moment’ you can recount, one that has stayed with you?
Dave – Back in 2007 I took a three week trip to New Zealand. Ostensibly it was a trip I’d won (a long story) and was supposed to be a holiday. However, the itinerary of the trip was up to me and I spent a lot of time researching where I wanted to go and what I wanted to see. In short, I treated it like a travel and landscape photography trip. One morning I was sitting by Lake Matheson waiting for the light and an airplane and I guess at some point in the four hours I was sitting there I first felt like a ‘real’ photographer – I was properly waiting for the light, not just snapping what I saw.
Sime – Do you have any photographic regrets? Shoots you should have done, but for some reason – you didn’t? Or a shot that you only had ‘one shot’ at and missed?
Dave – I don’t tend to do regrets, but there are one or two shots that got away. One very recently actually, on a SanDisk safari in Kenya. I was photographing a male lion feeding on a buffalo carcass while several scavengers gradually made their way close – Marabou storks, Black backed jackals etc. We’d been in one place for a while and I was shooting quite tight shots with a 400mm lens. I looked up from the camera and started to speak to the driver to ask if we could move. I’d barely got through the second word when the lion decided that he was unhappy at the proximity of one of the storks. He sprung and leapt, all four feet off the ground, straight for the stork, taking a huge swipe at it with his front paw. His back legs were about three feet up and it would’ve made an amazing shot. Sadly, I was over-lensed and he was going away from me, but more than that I’d looked away at just the wrong time. I did grab one shot (shown here) of his butt, out of focus, in the air. A missed opportunity of what would have been a prize winning shot.
Sime – You use our gear, and thanks – what works for you and how do you use it?
Dave – Being a techy geek, I, like most photographers, have a ‘thing’ for bags. At the last count I had 9, four of which are ThinkTank. I’ve got a Logistics Manager that I use as a kit storage trunk at home, or when I need to everything and the kitchen sink on a shoot. My regular airline travel bag is an Airport International V2, that also seems to hold the kitchen sink if needs be! For a small shoulder bag I use a Pinestone Retrospective 30, though again, small is maybe a relative term in terms of what it actually fits in. Finally, I’ve got a ShapeShifter that I use for city shooting and for going to presentations and seminars that I’m giving. It holds my laptop and cables and enough kit for any of the talks I give, providing I don’t need lightstands or softboxes. It ensures that I don’t take the kitchen sink with me!
I do also have a Steroid Speed Belt and a variety of pouches for when I need to keep some kit on me while shooting, or when I want to travel very light. In theory I have an Artificial Intelligence 15, but in reality it’s been ‘stolen’ by my other half who uses it for taking her laptop to and from work because it’s slim and portable. In fact, I think a few of her work colleagues have cottoned on to it and bought them as well…
Sime – Where from here, you’re on the Sandisk Extreme Team, the EOS-Network side of things must be exciting? What’s next in the photographic chronicles of Dave Newton?
Dave – I’m tending to keep myself pretty busy at the moment mixing the photography with the writing and training and ultimately, that’s the plan – keep things varied and avoid being pigeon-holed into any one area. It’s the same with my photography, with the exception of weddings, I’ve had a go at most things because there is no one thing that I loved shooting more than others – and yes, I have even tried shooting a wedding or two for friends. For me it’s more about the technical challenge of getting a picture. I love the technology and like finding interesting ways to put it to use.
For the future, I will be spending more time building EOS Network this year and there is a very interesting photo business opportunity that I’m working on currently, but it’s a slow burn and will take time to come to fruition. Hopefully I’ll continue to present for manufacturers like Canon at trade shows and events, and I have no plans to stop writing for the Canon Professional Network (CPN) website where I was technical editor for two years. Being part of the SanDisk Extreme Team is also exciting and gives me a wider audience to talk to and to show my work to. Essentially I just want to keep training people how to use their kit better and to keep shooting the subjects that I enjoy, on my terms, without an art director breathing down my neck!
Great insight into the working ways of Dave Newton, hope you enjoyed it! More to come – Stay Tuned!
Category: Think Tank Photo