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Kate Beauchamp: ‘there is always something new to learn with photography’

New Zealand based photographer Kate Beauchamp thrives on learning new techniques and experimenting with different genres. She talks to us about her photographic journey so far and how Affinity Photo has helped her grow as a photographer.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.

My husband and I moved from the UK to New Zealand nearly twenty years ago. We spent twelve years living and working in Auckland. I worked in ‘corporate land’ in the head office of one of our big banks, so I had very little time for hobbies. We made a lifestyle move to the small coastal town of Whitianga, on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, eight years ago. Having more free time to indulge in creative pursuits, I bought my first DSLR, a Nikon D3300. I joined the local photographic club to make friends and to meet like-minded people. I now help run the club and write a monthly article about the club challenges for our local paper. We have two recently adopted cats, I’m fond of cheese, chocolate and wine, and I love a good movie.

Dancing Apparition
How and when did you get interested in photography?

I was lucky enough to grow up in a house with a lot of art and photography books and was fascinated by the beauty, power and stories of the images captured within the pages.

My first camera was a film Practica, which I bought when I was about 14. I then went on to study Photography and Graphic Design at South Devon College of Art and Technology at Torquay, Devon. However, it was then a very long hiatus before I got back into photography eight years ago.

How do you feel you’ve grown as a photographer since you first started out?

Funnily enough, I was tidying the spare room recently, and I found a photo book that I’d printed in 2017—my work has come on in leaps and bounds since then, primarily due to using Affinity photo to edit my work. I think I’m also a lot more selective about which images have potential and which ones I delete.

Purakaunui Falls
Your work covers a wide range of genres, including landscape, wildlife, astrophotography and creative photography—is there one you favour more and why?

I honestly can’t pick a favourite genre. I’m enjoying the challenge of photographing birds at the moment, and have also been trying to improve my portrait photography skills.

I’m a member of the Photographic Society of New Zealand (PSNZ) and have been working on compiling my portfolio so that I can apply for PSNZ honours distinction at the Licentiate level. This means demonstrating a level of photographic competence and artistry across ten images. The images need to show general skills in different genres, plus diversity with the use of different lenses, lighting conditions, depth of field, shutter speed, etc.

Silvereye Teaparty
What sort of post-processing do you undertake on your pictures? Can you give us an idea of your workflow?

Using the sliders in the Develop Persona, I enhance the clarity and tweak the exposure.

My main editing is done using the Photo Persona. After cropping and/or straightening to get the composition I want, I like to use adjustment layers for edits such as Levels, Curves, Brightness/Contrast etc. Because these are carried out non-destructively, you can return to a layer and rework or delete it if it’s not working.

Once I’m happy with the image, I flatten the layers, and then I can get creative with textures, overlays and borders. If I’m editing a lot of images and want to have a consistent feel to them, I can utilize pre-sets that I’ve saved to my Library. I also enjoy using the Tone Mapping Persona to bring out detail and texture, which suits a more grungier image, for example, ‘Rebel Romance’.

Rebel Romance
How did you discover Affinity Photo, and what inspired you to start using it? What do you like most about the software?

I first read about Affinity Photo about four years ago in Practical Photography magazine and decided to give the free 7-day trial a go. Up until that point, I’d only been using the free software that came with my camera, which was very limiting. Using Affinity was a real game-changer for me. I was immediately able to get vastly superior results, and it enabled me to get creative with textures and overlays. I really loved the ease of use and the intuitiveness of Affinity, so have been using it ever since.

“Using Affinity was a real game-changer for me. I was immediately able to get vastly superior results, and it enabled me to get creative with textures and overlays.”

Who or what inspires you to keep creating and exploring?

Anything and everything! I get inspired by books, photography magazines, the work of other photographers, movies, music, changing light conditions, reflections, shadows… I could go on.

The Magicians Table

I also love that there is always something new to learn with photography, whether that’s something technical or more artistic, like how different colours can work together. For example, I have recently been trying to give my images—particularly portraits—a more filmic look.

I’m lucky enough to have some great photography buddies, so there is always someone keen to go out for a shoot, and I find we encourage and inspire each other.

Do you have a favourite photo, and if so, can you share the story behind it?

It’s really hard to pick one, but I’m really proud of my ‘Sleeping Gannet’ image. It was taken last October when myself and two other ladies, Anita and Wendy, went on a girls photography day trip to the gannet colony at Muriwai, on Auckland’s west coast. The gannets nest right next to the viewing platforms and are a constant hive of activity. Before we set out, I had this image in mind as one I wanted to try and capture, a serene moment amongst the chaos of the colony. We had a lovely day out, complete with a picnic lunch, lots of laughs, creating images and memories. I also felt really humbled recently when this image won 3rd place in a wildlife competition run by Auckland Camera Centre.

Sleeping Gannet
What advice would you give to someone who’s just getting started with photography?

A couple of pieces of advice:

If you have one, join a local photography group. Or if not, find a photography buddy or two to go out with—you’ll have more fun, and you can learn from each other. It’s also safer, particularly if you’re planning on going out after dark or somewhere remote.

Don’t compare your work to others. There will always be a better landscape photographer or someone better at portraits. Create images that you love and that make you happy. If other people love them, that’s a bonus. Have fun and keep learning.

“Don’t compare your work to others. There will always be a better landscape photographer or someone better at portraits. Create images that you love and that make you happy. If other people love them, that’s a bonus.”

Frozen Camellia
What are your future photography goals? Where do you see your photography going in terms of subject and style?

I would love to see more of my work published, whether in magazines, a book or even an album cover (maybe I should just write my own book!).

In terms of subject and style, I’d love to have a go at making more creative or fantasy portraits, a bit of levitation photography is always a fun challenge.

You can see more of Kate’s photography on her socials Instagram and Facebook, and her website.

Spotlight editor

As editor of Affinity Spotlight Melanie oversees the stories, interviews and tutorials published on the site. Outside of work she enjoys travelling, reading crime thrillers, Pilates and dabbling in a spot of oil painting. Get in touch with Melanie if you would like to contribute or be featured on Affinity Spotlight.

Credits & Footnotes

All images copyright of Kate Beauchamp and used with permission