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Karl Mackie Photography | FAQ

Questions and answers with surfer, artist, photographer, craftsman and owner of MACKIE Studio Karl Mackie.

 
 

HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN A PHOTOGRAPHER?

YES AND NO! YES IN THE SENSE THAT I HAVE ALWAYS HAD A CAMERA IN MY HAND AS FAR BACK AS I CAN REMEMBER, HOWEVER, MY OTHER BIG PASSION IS DESIGN AND THAT WAS THE ROUTE I TOOK, STRAIGHT FROM SCHOOL. DESIGN AND PHOTOGRAPHY ARE INTERTWINED SO I SPENT A GREAT DEAL OF TIME WATCHING, LEARNING AND ASSISTING IN VARIOUS FORMS OF PHOTOGRAPHY.

 

WHEN DID YOU GET YOUR BIG BREAK? 

I TOOK A CAREER BREAK & LOOKING BACK, MAYBE EVEN A LIFE BREAK TO SIMPLIFY AND STRIP BACK MY LIVING. BOUGHT A LITTLE CARAVAN FOR £450.00 AND MOVED ONTO A CAMPSITE IN NEWQUAY, CORNWALL. MY DAYS WERE SURFING, WORKING AND SHOOTING PROLIFICALLY, AND IT DIDN’T STOP, I LIVED THAT WAY FOR QUITE A WHILE UNTIL I BEGAN DESIGNING AGAIN. A FRIEND OF MINE SAID ‘YOU SHOULD PUT YOUR IMAGES ON A WEBSITE’ SO I WENT AND GOT YEARS WORTH OF NEGS SCANNED AND I PUT MY IMAGES OUT TO THE WORLD! I WAS LUCKY! THE NOW SADLY DISCONTINUED ‘SURFERS PATH’ MAGAZINE PICKED ME UP AND FEATURED MY WORK ON A WHOPPING 10-15 PAGES OF ANALOGUE GOODNESS. THIS PROVED TO BE THE CATALYST FOR EVERYTHING THAT HAS FOLLOWED. 

 

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN SHOOTING?

PROFESSIONALLY, AROUND 10-12 YEARS.

 

HAVE YOU ALWAYS LOVED PHOTOGRAPHY? 

YES! ABSOLUTELY, LOVED THE EARLY DAYS WHEN MYSELF, FRIENDS AND FAMILY WOULD ALL HANG OUT SURFING AND CAMPING, SHOOTING THAT LIFESTYLE ON 35MM CAMERAS THAT I CAN’T EVEN REMEMBER WHAT MODELS! THE NEED AND JOY OF DOCUMENTING HAS AND IS STILL ALWAYS THERE.

 

WHAT CAMERA AND LENSES DO YOU USE?

I SPLIT MY TIME IN QUITE A COMPOSED MANNER NOWADAYS, I KEEP MY PRO GEAR FOR SHOOTS AND MY FILM CAMERAS FOR PLEASURE AND CLIENT SHOOTS IF WE CAN GET AWAY WITH IT. GEAR WISE I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A CANON GUY, NO PARTICULAR REASON OTHER THAN I STARTED THAT WAY AND I LIKE FAMILIARITY! MY GOTO BODY IS A 5D III WITH THE FOLLOWING LENSES; CANON 35MM, 50MM, 85MM PRIMES, CANON 24-70MM, CANON 70-200MM. MY FILM GEAR CURRENTLY IS A LEICA M6, CANON AV-1, MINOLTA SR-7, MINOX GT, HOLGA 120MM AND A POLAROID LAND CAMERA.

 

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE OF KIT? 

I WOULD HAVE TO SAY THE CANON AV-1, I HAVE BETTER CAMERAS BUT I ALWAYS COME BACK TO THIS ONE. GLASS WISE ON FILM I LOVE 35 AND 50MM. IN THE DIGITAL REALM, I FAVOUR PRIMES AND ZOOMS. THE CARL ZEISS LENS ON THE LITTLE MINOX IS ALSO UP THERE AS A FAVOURITE!

 

WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO SET UP FOR SHOOTING THE COAST?

WHEN I MAKE THE DECISION TO HEAD OUT AND SHOOT THE COAST, IT USUALLY HAPPENS TWO WAYS - A DEDICATED TRIP OR ON A TRAIL RUN, IF ITS THE TRIP I’LL JUST TAKE MY 35MM FILM CAMERA WITH A 50MM LENS AND 2/3 ROLLS OF FILM, EITHER LOMOGRAPHY FILM OR SOME EXPIRED ISO 400 KODAK STOCK. IF I’M HEADING OUT FOR A RUN, THEN IT'S JUST MY IPHONE!

 

WHAT’S YOUR TRAVEL SET UP AND WHATS IN YOUR BAG FOR A SHOOT? 

OK! I PROCRASTINATE MORE OVER MY TRAVEL KIT THAN ANYTHING ELSE I THINK, BUT FOR A WHILE NOW I HAVE THE SET UP THAT WORKS FOR ME! I LIKE A RUCKSACK ON MY BACK WHEN I SHOOT, I LIKE TO HAVE EVERYTHING WITH ME WHENEVER I NEED IT, SO MY GOTO BACKPACK IS A LOWEPRO 450 PRO, IN MY BACKPACK I’LL HAVE X2 CANON 5D III’S, X3 PRIMES, 24-70, 70-200MM LENSES, X1 FILM CAMERA, X3 ROLLS OF FILM, CHARGER, FLASH, INTERVALOMETER, HARD DRIVES, MEMORY CARDS, GORILLA POD, TRIPOD AND ALWAYS A NOTEPAD!

 

DO YOU MISS THE DAYS OF FILM? 

I NEVER REALLY FEEL I LEFT, IT’S JUST GROWN WITH ME AND ALL THESE YEARS LATER I STILL ENJOY IT! 

 

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON SMARTPHONES AND THEIR CAMERAS? DO THEY HAVE A PLACE? 

I LOVE SHOOTING WITH A SMARTPHONE! IT’S ONE OF MY BIGGEST PASSIONS! THE BEST CAMERA IS THE ONE IN YOUR POCKET RIGHT! MY SMARTPHONE OF CHOICE IS AN IPHONE AND I’M BLOWN AWAY BY HOW GOOD THE LENS IS ON THAT PHONE, ITS CRAZY TO THINK WE HAVE THIS AT OUR DISPOSAL! DO THEY HAVE A PLACE? ABSOLUTELY AND IT’S GOING TO GET BETTER AS TECHNOLOGY PROGRESSES.

SEE WATERGATE BAY IN CORNWALL SHOT ON IPHONE HERE.

VISIT MY IPHONE ONLY VSCO GALLERY HERE

 

DO YOU HAVE PLANS TO USE DRONE PHOTOGRAPHY? 

THE SHORT ANSWER IS YES! I LIKE THE EFFECT WHEN IT’S USED SUBTLY AS PART OF A BIGGER SHOOT, OR AS A CUTAWAY IN A VIDEO. 

 

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE LOCATION TO SHOOT? 

QUITE HONESTLY - HOME IS MY FAVOURITE PLACE TO SHOOT, I’M FORTUNATE TO LIVE IN SUCH A BEAUTIFUL PART OF THE WORLD. CORNWALL HAS SO MUCH TO OFFER THROUGHOUT ITS CHANGING SEASONS AND I LOVE NOTHING MORE THAN WANDERING THE COAST WITH A CAMERA. LOOKING FURTHER AFIELD, NOOSA HEADS IN AUSTRALIA IS A PARTICULAR FAVOURITE AS IS HAWAII.

 

DO YOU EVER SHOOT FROM HELICOPTERS, MOVING VEHICLES?

YES! I SHOOT A LOT OF SPORT, FAST MOVING ATHLETES AND I AM OFTEN EITHER SHOOTING FROM A HELICOPTER OR A CRANE!

 

WHAT'S BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE NON-SURF SHOOT TO DATE? 

THAT WOULD HAVE TO BE MY FIRST COMMISSION TO SHOOT GOLF IN SCOTLAND. DUNNING GOLF HAD HIRED ME WITH THE QUESTION ‘DO YOU THINK YOU COULD SHOOT GOLF LIKE YOU SHOOT THE SURF?” YES! I SAID, WHY NOT?! WE TRAVELLED TO ABERDEEN AND SHOT THE RYDER CUP WINNER NICOLAS COLSAERTS. IT WAS A MISTY, COLD AND CHALLENGING SHOOT BUT SUCH A GOOD ONE FOR MANY REASONS, NOT LEAST THAT WE NAILED THE ATMOSPHERE OF SCOTLAND AND HAVE CONTINUED TO WORK TOGETHER ON MANY MORE SUBSEQUENT SHOOTS AROUND THE WORLD.

 

OTHER THAN YOUR CURRENT CLIENT ROSTER, WHO WOULD BE YOUR DREAM BRAND OR COMPANY TO SHOOT FOR? 

I WOULD LOVE TO WORK WITH OUTERKNOWN!

 

TRIPOD, MONOPOD OR HANDHELD?

ALWAYS HANDHELD, BUT WHEN PUSH COMES TO SHOVE AND THE ACTION IS FAST - A TRIPOD.

 

WHAT EDITING PROGRAM DO YOU USE?

ON SLR I USE PHOTOSHOP AND LIGHTROOM. ON MOBILE I USE VSCOCAM.

 

DO YOU START WITH ANY SPECIFIC PRESETS WHEN EDITING?

I DON’T EDIT MY FILM WORK AS I PREFER TO KEEP IN EVERYTHING, SCRATCHES, LEAKS ETC..WITH DIGITAL, I’LL RUN MY OWN SET OF PRESETS THAT LEAN EVER SO SUBTLY TOWARDS A FILM LOOK. ON MOBILE I HAVE ALWAYS USED VSCO AND I LOVE THE KODAK PORTRA SERIES WHICH DO A FINE JOB OF EMULATING FILM! 

 

IF YOU WEREN'T A PHOTOGRAPHER, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

WHEN I WAS A KID I WAS ASKED A SIMILAR QUESTION AND THE ANSWER WAS ‘BE A FOOTBALLER’ THAT DIDN’T WORK OF COURSE! I WOULD DEFINITELY BE INVOLVED IN THE CREATIVE INDUSTRY IN SOME FORM OR ANOTHER AS I AM WITH MACKIE® STUDIO.

 

DO YOU HAVE A CERTAIN PLAYLIST/TYPE OF MUSIC THAT YOU LIKE TO LISTEN TO WHEN TRAVELLING?

I AM A CREATURE OF HABITS AND I DON’T STRAY TOO MUCH FROM MY MUSIC! I WILL USUALLY LISTEN TO THE SAME SPOTIFY PLAYLIST I HAVE BEEN BUILDING FOR YEARS OR ANYTHING BY NEIL YOUNG, JONNY CASH AND PEARL JAM. RECENTLY I HAVE GATECRASHED THE PODCAST PARTY AND AM FULLY LOCKED INTO THE LIKES OF RICH ROLL, LOOKING SIDEWAYS, TIM FERRIS, JAMES ALTUCHER AND THE FORWARD.

FOLLOW MY SPOTIFY PLAYLIST HERE.

 

WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE PHOTOGRAPHER?

I DON’T HAVE A FAVOURITE AS SUCH BUT THE GUYS THAT I ENJOY FOLLOWING AND THAT I FEEL ARE ALWAYS PUTTING OUT CONSISTENTLY STRONG IMAGERY ARE:

FINN BEALES

DANE PETERSON

ALEX STOHL

CHRIS BURKARD

KYLE MCDOUGALL

 

HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU THINK IT IS FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS TO HAVE A NICHE?

EXTREMELY! AS MUCH AS WE HAVE GREAT TECHNOLOGY AT OUR FINGERTIPS AND THE ABILITY TO SHOOT HAS NEVER BEEN MORE ACCESSIBLE, I DO THINK IT’S INVALUABLE TO HAVE AN AREA YOU EXCEL IN AND ARE KNOWN FOR, THIS MAY WELL BE A PERSONAL PREFERENCE AND THERE ARE MANY REASONS, MAINLY BECAUSE YOU CONCENTRATE ON ONE THING AND DO THAT THING REALLY WELL.

 

HOW DID YOU TAKE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY TO THE NEXT LEVEL? 

IT’S EASY TO LOOK AT NOW AND ASSUME EVERYTHING IS ROSY! BUT AT THE BEGINNING I WAS SHOOTING ON KIT FROM CAR BOOT SALES, I KNEW WHAT I WANTED TO SHOOT BUT THERE WAS NO WAY I COULD AFFORD THE PRO GEAR, HOWEVER, I STILL WANTED THE SHOT SO I MATCHED IT WITH FILM GEAR ONLY MILES CHEAPER. I’VE RENTED GEAR, BORROWED LENSES ETC, BUT AS THINGS BEGAN TO GATHER MOMENTUM AND THE WORK BEGAN TO GET SEEN MORE AND MORE I WAS ABLE TO GET THAT PRO GEAR AND BUILD ON THAT SUCCESS TO MAKE PHOTOGRAPHY MY CAREER.

 

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE FOR A PHOTOGRAPHER AT THE BEGINNING STAGES?

CONTRARY TO THE ABOVE, SHOOT AS MUCH AS YOU CAN ON A WIDE RANGE OF EQUIPMENT AND YES! DEFINITELY SHOOT FILM, IT WILL TEACH YOU TO BE PATIENT, SELECTIVE AND HONE YOUR EYE FOR A SHOT. SHARE YOUR WORK ON SOCIAL MEDIA BUT OWN IT, JUST BECAUSE YOUR A BEGINNER DOESN'T MEAN TO SAY THE RULES ARE DIFFERENT AND MOST OF ALL - FIND YOUR NICHE.

 

JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON MEDIUM.

 
 
 Image by  Amy Bullock

Image by Amy Bullock