Nick Kane is a 24 year old QUB MA Graduate and photographer based in Belfast. Having recently made the leap to start showcaisng his photography on platforms like Instagram and Unslplash- Nick chatted to The Jumble Magazine about adapting creativley over the past year, finding inspiration in Irelands stunning scenery, and his hopes for the future.
I’ve always enjoyed taking photos, I’ve loved it since I was a kid, but I really got into photography around 2014-15. I was watching a few travel vloggers on YouTube who also happened to be amazing landscape and travel photographers. My dad was really into photography when he was my age – so he was all for offering advice and support.
Everyone needs some form of creative outlet, but I’m terrible at drawing, and tried twice to pick up the guitar but never really got into it. So photography came along and it’s something I’ve stuck at ever since.
I’m 24 now, and I graduated from Queen’s at the end of 2019 with a MA in Violence, Terrorism, and Security. One of my favorite pastimes is going for walks or hikes, either around my local area or to one of our coastlines, forests, or mountains. I’d definitely like to expand my interest in photography beyond a hobby, and contribute more to actual productions or causes.
When I first took up photography I focused almost solely on landscapes. I guess this type of photography appeals to any newcomer because it’s static – the view isn’t going anywhere. So, you have plenty of time to learn the ropes when it comes to exposure, shutter speed etc. Practice makes perfect, and landscape photography is forgiving enough to let you take your time.
It’s also the most accessible form of photography, especially in Ireland. We have a stunning coastline, rolling mountain ranges, and lush green fields all around. Street photography requires a lot of confidence, the idea of just walking around and candidly taking photographs of people going about their day-to-day business, and you need expensive zoom lenses and a lot of patience for wildlife photography. But landscape photography is something you can incorporate into your weekend hikes or trips to the North Coast.
“The most inspiring part however, is that it makes you really appreciate your natural surroundings and the beauty that your home, but also the wider world, has to offer.”
However, my favorite places to photograph are always abroad. Not that there’s a lack of things to shoot in Ireland, but I find when you go abroad you appreciate scenes and finer details which you take for granted back home. An alleyway in Belfast can offer just as many interesting features and compositions as a cobbled street in Italy, but the extra visual awareness you have visiting somewhere you’ve never been before brings so many more creative opportunities to mind.
I’d say my favourite place overall to take photos is Croatia. I’ve visited twice, and on both occasions the country has offered up stunning natural landscapes, aesthetically pleasing cobbled streets dotted with market stalls, shops, signage, and historic architecture. The sunsets from the coast are some of the best in the world.
The restrictions over the past year have defiantly had an impact on my photography. Not only have I not left the island since November 2019, but travelling around within Ireland has obviously been curtailed due to the pandemic. Combined with work being a bit crazy the past while, I’ve not had anywhere near as much opportunities as before to go out and take photos. I managed to visit Connemara in Co. Galway at the end of last summer, so it was nice to visit somewhere different even if it only was about 200 miles away. I found it took me a while to get into a creative mindset because I hadn’t been out with the camera for so long, but I came home after a few days with some great shots.
I’ve also been wanting to get more into street photography which isn’t something that’s exactly helped by a global pandemic. The streets were completely empty for a while and are still pretty quiet, and you can’t chat with people or get near them to compose a shot when you’re meant to keep your distance.
On a more positive note, being forced to stay local means that I’m a lot more appreciative of my surroundings and they’re featuring a lot more prominently in my work that they would have before.
I’m a big fan of Shane Taylor, another Irish photographer, who lives in London. His street photography captures candid images of Londoners going about their daily lives, and as you’d expect the wide variety of faces in the city makes for an even greater variety of scenes. There’s so much you can do with the reflections of shop windows, or picking out moments of calm from a bustling crowd, so it’ll be nice once restrictions are lifted to even walk about Belfast city centre on a busy day taking photos.
I’ve also just gotten into film. Up until now I’ve been shooting solely on my Nikon D3300 DSLR, but my dad recently gave me his Olympus OM20 film camera that’s just shy of 40 years old. There’s a look and feel that you get from analogue photography, which while it can be mimicked in editing your digital images using various tools in Lightroom, just doesn’t quite look as good as the real deal. It’s also a much more manual form of photography which pushes you to learn more and take your time, especially when your SD card capable of holding a few thousand shots has been replaced by a roll of 36 exposures.
Overall, I’d just like to broaden my audience and show my art to more people. I’ve had a profile on Unsplash for a few years now which lets people download and use my images for wallpapers, or for royalty-free (but credited!) use in their own creations. My photos have just over 14 million views on Unsplash and have been used in tourism adverts, and most recently a campaign for visa free travel throughout the 27 EU states for music touring professionals, bands, musicians, and artists – it’s so rewarding to see my art being used by others to promote their own!