Interview with the Photoion Awards 2016 first place winner – Dolores Mateo

One of the best things about releasing these award books is learning more about our students. Finding out what pushes them to pursue photography, and how they got started on their journey is always fascinating. This year we sat down with our 1st place winner, Dolores, to learn about their photography journey.

Why did you pick up photography Dolores? How did you fall in love with it?

Like most of the best things in life, I truly do not know why my love story with photography happened, it just happened and it caught me by surprise! At a time when I felt a strong need to learn how to create beauty, I found myself with an entry-level DSLR in my hands. I have always loved nature and a recent visit to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition inspired me on how little you need from Mother Nature to create beauty. I put the two things together and a new passion was born.

How long have you been practising photography?

I cannot believe it is just over one and a half years since I first held a DSLR at the beginners’ course with Photoion in September 2015.  I had never taken meaningful pictures before and did not really have an artistic sense or photographic eye. The Photoion beginners’ course was truly eye opening and it only left me wanting to practice and learn more. I learnt the basic technical aspects of photography and most importantly as Ion says, I learnt how to “take pictures with my eyes”. This means knowing how to look at me and be able to know how my surroundings would look through the lens and how to play with the light. I have not stopped since.

Is there a particular photographer whom you find inspiring? (They don’t have to be famous)  

My most inspirational photographer is Marina Cano who achieved finalist status at the Wildlife Photographer Competition in 2015. I love how her images capture feelings as well as beauty. She stands out in the male crowd of professional wildlife photographers and is remarkably bold and determined.

However, my daily inspiration is nature itself and its amazing creatures. I love the uniqueness of each moment with light and elements combined in a way that will never be repeated. If you blink you might miss the shot!

Is there one picture in the world (taken by you or someone else) that truly makes you think – that’s why I’m doing this, that’s why I’m learning this?

I have to pick two, one mine and one from someone else.

There is one picture that told me “look at what you can find around you, go and get it!”. That was “The mouse, the moon and the mosquito” by Alexander Badyaev. This image was the winner in the mammal’s category on Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014. I remember walking into the exhibition and being drawn to the image which was pure simplicity turned into beauty. There was no need to travel the world or shoot with super expensive zoom lenses, beauty could be hiding in our back gardens. There is something I did not know at the time and I know now: this image combines flashlight with “magic hour” light. That is technology shaking hands with nature!

The other picture is my “Zebra” (the winning image). I took this picture when I had been into photography for less than 6 months. I had been left by myself at the end of a photography workshop in Cabarceno Nature Park and I was looking at a group of zebras, working out what to do with the scarce post- sunset light and their mesmerising stripes. I looked through the viewfinder and everything I had learnt from my teachers came together. Suddenly, I knew what I wanted and I knew how to get it. Almost instinctively, I adjusted my focal length, held my breath and clicked the shutter. There was no need to crop and no need for more than minimal post processing. My zebra has a preferential wall in my living room. It reminds me every day that we can achieve anything we want if we put our heart to it.

If you could capture an image of anyone, past or present, who would you choose, and what type of image would you take? And why?

I would like to capture an intimate moment of animal behaviour that has not been photographed or even observed before. By intimate, I do not mean of sexual nature, but the kind of interaction that happens privately and makes us feel that we are not so far apart from animals. The only thing that takes me out of bed before dawn is wildlife photography, so I would love to capture it under sunrise light after secretly watching a group of animals for a while and getting to know them well. It would feel as if Mother Nature was sharing a little secret with me.

What’s your favourite type of photography?

It has to be wildlife photography without a doubt. It brings me close to nature and reminds me of my true self. I would love to keep learning how to play with artificial light and get introduced to macro but my true love will always be wildlife.

How has the Photoion Photography helped you develop your skills in photography?

Having solid foundation pillars is essential to developing any skills. I learnt the basic principles of photography with Photoion and I could not have had a better teacher than Ion. Learning with him is effortless and his passion for photography is so contagious that before I knew it, I was completely addicted to photography.

Ion always sees “the picture” where the untrained eye cannot see it. Photoion’s advanced course is not just a consolidation of the skills acquired in the beginners’ course but an open door to a whole new world of possibilities. The life-long feedback offered by Photoion is unique and made a huge difference as I did not find myself lost taking pictures randomly.

The advice on technical equipment is also excellent as Ion will teach how to squeeze all possibilities from a basic DLSR before you upgrade. The most basic equipment in the hands of a skilled photographer can work wonders!

What does being in the Photoion Photography Award book mean to you?

The standards of the judges are high and the work of my fellow students is truly outstanding so I feel really honoured. This is more than I could have ever imagined I would achieve in such a short time!

I would like to congratulate all other fellow students who are having images published too. There is a lot of hard work and time behind each shot and that deserves recognition. Looking at what gets posted on the Photoion page the competition must have been ferocious!

Tell us about your plans for photography in the future.

I would like to keep forever loving every second I spend behind the camera, no matter if this is in the African savannah or locally in Greenwich Park. I cannot even dream of making a living out of photography but perhaps if I could get the hobby to be self-sustainable I might be able to drop some time from work…. just so I can go out more and take more pictures!

By | 2017-11-08T12:19:51+00:00 April 12th, 2017|blog, Interviews, News, photoion awards|0 Comments

About the Author:

We are the Photoion Photography School, and we love everything to do with Photography. We are always reading about the latest techniques, equipment, and accessories. We endeavour to share what we are passionate about with you. Enthusiasm is contagious; and we would love for our readers to be as enthusiastic about Photography as we are. We are constantly teaching, shooting, and posting great images and stories so stay tuned!

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