Anne Maningas aka Version3point1 | www.version3point1.co.uk
The next in my photographer interview blog series and today we have Anne Maningas or some of you may know her as her alter ego Version3point1. I have been wanting to interview Anne for sometime after coming across her work in a publication where I worked and thought it was great! The thing that both Anne and I have in common is that we are both train drivers, Anne on the London Underground and myself on the British Rail mainlines. Its always refreshing to see other photographers who work in the same industry as yourself and also to appreciate and enjoy their work. What I love about Anne’s work is that it gives an insight to what its like working on the London Underground and of course what it is to be a train driver. As well as these, Anne also diversifies into other genres of photography which you will see too in the interview, I really like the almost Journalistic feel that some of Anne’s images have. I hope you all enjoy the interview and of course Anne’s awesome photography.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and also how many years have you been “behind the lens”?
I’m a 26-year-old Londoner, born and bred in the wonderful city. I’m quite possibly the shortest train driver you’ll ever meet. I work in London, and live directly opposite London’s beautiful Kew Gardens with my partner (who is also a train driver). I’ve been “behind the lens” for a wee while, at least the last 12 years, having predominantly worked with film (35mm and medium format) in my teens.
How long have you been a photographer?
I can’t really give you a straight answer! And I don’t like calling myself a “photographer” because it always sounds so serious! But I guess if I took into account how long I’ve been getting paid to take photographs, I guess I can say about 6 years.
What type of photography to you mainly shoot and why?
I’ve always shot a lot of stuff on and around the railway. Working for London Underground presents many opportunities for photography in a wide-range of disciplines (and Aaron – you demonstrate this well!). I like to shoot a lot of travel-related stuff because I do like to look back and places I’ve been to.
What type of camera(s) do you use?
For most jobs, my main camera is a Canon EOS 5D Mark III. I do however have a smaller compact Canon EOS M, which allows me to work safely if I am taking photographs from track level as the camera is a lot smaller and lighter than my usual DSLR set-up. I also have an extensive collection of film and instant film cameras that I still use, especially when a project or client asks me to do so.
What other photography accessories do you use (and like using), other than your camera?
Something that gets a lot of attention on multi-camera jobs or jobs where I’m on my feet for a long time is my Holdfast “Money Maker” camera strap. It’s quite possibly the best photography accessory I have ever purchased and it makes shooting weddings a lot easier. I use it a lot when I go on walks in the summer to save me having to carry a bag. It also generates a lot of attention – people care more about the strap than what’s attached to it! – I haven’t really seen anybody else using one yet as much as I have.
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
It’s a close call between a “nifty-fifty” f/1.4 and a 35mm f/1.4, but just for a little more of a wide angle; for years, I shot with nothing but my Canon EF35mm f/1.4L USM. I just love how I could use it for near enough everything, and it’s so fast. 35mm f/1.4 has got to be it!
Who are three of your favourite photographers that inspire you the most and how has your appreciation of their work affected how you do your photography?
333bracket is one of my most favourite photographers to date. I first discovered her on Flickr and thought she was absolutely magical. She photographs mainly with film, but there’s something dreamy and whimsical about her photographs. She makes me appreciate the beauty that can be found in every day observations, and she is equally as skilled in digital photography. She always makes me feel like I should spend more time shooting with film – and that there is absolutely no shame in embracing it.
Finn Hopson takes some amazing landscape shots in the South of England. I think I’ll let the work speak for itself, but he takes some breathtakingly beautiful shots of the South Downs. His work is a reminder that I don’t have to leave the country in order to find a beautiful landscape – there is so much to discover in England and the UK!
Bob Mazzer took some amazing and brave photographs back in the ’70-‘80s on the London Underground and I was inspired by his work when it recently emerged online last year. I find he brings back a lot of what made the The Tube unique to other transport systems in the world.
What are the typical preparations that need to be made before a shoot/photowalk? (Both in terms of camera equipment and researching the location itself / weather etc.)
It really does depend on the situation, but say you’re doing a photowalk or similar, my key advice is to travel light! It has taken me years, and a trip to Australia and New York to learn this the hard way! Pick a camera, pick a lens – stick with it. Unless you’ve the luxury of having somebody to carry all the things you want to bring with you, be kind to yourself and travel light! I grew up using lenses of fixed focal lengths, so I’m used to just making the one lens work for everything, but if you don’t want to restrict yourself, perhaps pick a lens with a good range you can work with to get all the shots you envisage. With location shoots, I take a slightly different approach, but I think the key thing is that you don’t want to burden yourself with more than you actually need. Minimise lens changes if/where you can (hence picking and sticking to one lens that will give you good coverage).
Which out of your portfolio are your top 3 personal favourite images?
What do you feel is the most challenging aspect about your type of photography that you do?
Because photography is just something I do on the side and not a full-time occupation, the most challenging aspect of any photography I do is finding the time to carry out creative projects.
What is your favourite post processing tool that you use? eg Nik Software, Photomatix, PS, LR, Topax etc
Some people might not agree with presets, but I’ve been using Visual Supply Co. (VSCO) presets within Lightroom / PS for several years now. They offer a lot of options and have a great iPhone/iPad app too that I can use for some jobs when I’m on the go.
Are there any places that you would really like to visit to take photos?
There are so many places in just the UK alone that I’d love to visit (and re-visit!) I’d love to go back to the Highlands of Scotland again; if you’ve never done the drive from Glasgow to Fort William along that A82 road through Glencoe and Glen Etive (where a stunning landscape shot in the James Bond movie Skyfall is captured), you need to put it on your bucket list. It will not disappoint! I’d also love to stay in and explore the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, England – they’ve finished filming the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII there – check out the link for more information http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-29862707.
A Website or/and Blog that you visit often?
Apart from Flickr, the PhotoShelter ‘Resources’ section is also a great help as I always find myself directing people there when they ask me for help on something – there are so many well-written guides there on all sorts of topics that are of concern to photographers of any age or skill.
Do you have a highlight or something that you are proud of in your photography that you would like to share?
I think I have given many people an insight into my day job as a train driver in London and I’m really proud of that. I’ve also been able to cover some fantastic events at my workplace from ‘behind-the-scenes’, like the celebration of 150 years of London Underground, when we ran steam train services in and around the City, which has given some people an insight into what it takes to make this stuff happen.
If you had one very important lesson that you think every photographer needs to learn from, what would it be?
Always be open to learn or try something new. The great thing about photography is that there will always be a new technique or skill to discover or share, and that goes for life’s experiences too.
Any other comments that you may wish to share are always welcome.
Enjoy what you do, and enjoy what you shoot, whatever it is you do, and whatever it is you shoot! Never let photography feel like a chore – otherwise it’s time to take a break!