Interview: Unusual Everyday Competition Judge Julian Lass

 Photographer Julian Lass
Earlier this week, we announced the results of our photography competition Unusual Everyday, which was judged by Julian Lass. Julian is a photographer, writer, editor, and lecturer. We were very pleased to have Julian on board for this competition and he has kindly agreed to take part in a short interview for us.

Arctic by Julian Lass

Can you tell us how you got into photography?

I started taking photos when I was 12, using my dad’s camera and building a darkroom in the bathroom. I progressed to my school’s darkroom, where you’d find me most lunchtimes. I’d take pictures of anything and everything. I was hooked. Then later I did an MA in Photography (Distinction) from University of the Arts London and an MA in English Literature (First Class) from Edinburgh University, combining my love for photography and reading and writing.

Arctic 2 by Julian Lass

You previously worked as a lecturer in photography at The Arts University in Bournemouth. Can you tell us about this?

That’s right, I’ve only just stopped working there. I taught on a BA.

Woodland 3 by Julian Lass

You now work freelance and write for numerous photography publications. How did you get into this?

I was the Technical Editor on Photography Monthly magazine, which is how I got into writing about photography. Now I’m a regular photographer and writer for publications like Digital SLR Magazine, British Journal of Photography, Geographical Magazine, and Telegraph Magazine. But it really just combines two loves: photography and writing. I also worked for Taschen books as a photography researcher for a number of titles and this is another aspect of my work.

Woodland 2 by Julian Lass

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

I’m happy anywhere with a camera and a tripod. Taking pictures of British woodland this autumn, or heading along the India-Bangladesh border and up to the arctic for Geographical magazine (see January 2013 issue), or trekking across the Pyrenees, or photographing inside CERN, Geneva. But I think the highlight of my career was getting a picture of an otter that I had printed myself into a local exhibition in Coventry when I was 13.

Woodland by Julian Lass

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

Don’t be afraid to learn all the technical skills by reading as much as you can about photography, but then read books that have nothing to do with photography. If you look carefully enough, you can find problems in all photographers, and that should give you great hope. The better you get at identifying these problems, the better you will be at avoiding them. Young photographers are often too worried about getting things moving and not worried enough about what’s on the sides of the beaten path. Photography is about discovering things unseen, learning something new, otherwise there’s no point to it. Sometimes you need to magnify something, see it in a roundabout way, and in the process you’ll discover something.