Interview: The Journey Competition Judge Mac Bouchere

Mac Bouchere 2027

Just a few weeks ago our new photography competition launched and this time we have chosen the theme ‘The Journey’ and we are asking you to capture a phase of your life journey that is important for you. Small journeys make up the very fabric of life and as we pace through this journey we experience not only people and places but emotions and memories. We are asking you to explore these journeys through your photography. To enter the competition simply visit the Competitions page to be in with a chance of winning a year’s subscription to the digital issue of Amateur Photographer magazine.

Our judge for this competition is Mac Bouchere F.R.P.S., a seasoned photographer originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands but who now lives in South Devon. Mac is a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a Western Counties photo club judge and speaker and a photographer and photo tutor. We put Mac on the spot so we could get an insight into the man behind the lens! Here is what he had to share.

When did you first discover your love of, and interest in, photography?

Driving home one day, I passed the beach and noticed the waves breaking. The wind was blowing the spray up and I was enthralled how the light was making the spray sparkle. I felt that it would make a great photo on my wall, but I needed to buy a camera first. That was the start of my journey.

Mac Bouchere 2008

Have you had any formal training in photography?

No, I worked for the fire service in Jersey, on shifts, and was reluctant to start a course or evening class I couldn’t attend fully. I read and/or looked at every photography book that the Jersey Library Service had on its shelves.

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How would you describe your photographic style and how it has developed over the years?

I started trying to take good, camera club competition photos but quickly felt that I wanted to do something else. I strove to produce images – 35mm slides at the time – that when projected, caused the audience to gasp at the visual impact of the image. I have always tried to produce images that make the viewer’s gaze settle on the key element of the picture. I usually use a highlight and/or textures to draw the viewer into the image. Photography for me is almost entirely about visual stimulus.

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How much time do you spend behind the camera?

Probably several hours a week, but like many others I feel it’s not enough. Because I like to pre-visualise images, I tend to construct them in my mind before I go to take the photo. I often have an idea for an image and the feeling it will evoke before I go out with the camera. The downside is that if I can’t get that image in the camera, I feel a bit deflated and then often just take my “camera for a walk”.

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What type of cameras do you shoot with and what is your favourite piece of equipment?

I have always used Canon SLR gear, first FD film cameras and now I use a 5D and a 40D and have a 300D converted for Infrared shooting. I usually visualise images that are best taken with a wide angle lens. I suppose my most oft used piece of gear now is the Sigma 12-24mm DG HSM. Great on the full frame and acceptable on the APS bodies.

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What do you love most about being a photographer?

I think the challenge of getting my sort of image of a scene and also when a viewer gets the same message or feeling as I do when looking at the picture and of course the buzz I feel when I think I have just taken the image I was trying for.

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What kind of photography do you specialize in?

I am predominately a landscape photographer, though I often set myself new challenges to take the sorts of image that I am less comfortable with.

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Have you judged any photographic competitions before?

I have been judging photo competitions for a number of years. I visit clubs all over the South West, mostly visiting Western Counties Clubs to comment and appraise their internal competitions and to judge inter-club “battles”, sometimes scoring images from five or six different clubs.

I strongly believe that the internal club competitions offer the photographers a wonderful opportunity to get a different and independent opinion on their images. In light of this, I also believe that the people judging club competitions have a great responsibility to give due respect to the photographers and give fair, unbiased comment and where appropriate useful advice.

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What has been the highlight of your photography career so far?

Without doubt, gaining my Fellowship distinction from the Royal Photographic Society.

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What advice would you give to people just starting out in photography?

* Look at photographic images, all types and genres, and figure out why they work or don’t.

*Have a good understanding of camera craft and basic techniques.

*Learn how to use your own camera.

*Don’t get sucked into thinking that the newest camera or gimmick will make better images.

*Take lots of pictures, be critical and learn from them how you can improve your images.

*Look at photographic images and understand how you want your own images to look and feel.

*Enjoy your photography, or take up knitting, scuba-diving or something else. Photography has got to be fun, certainly not just about points or certificates.

Mac Bouchere 2035