In the twenty ninth edition of our special features celebrating our favourite south coast based Instagram users. Today I catch up with Sam Gander (@sam_gander92photography).
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Hello, I am Sam Gander, I am 26 years old, born in Portsmouth, University of Portsmouth graduate and have lived in neighbouring Gosport all my life. I love to explore and usually take photos of the places I have visited; I also am obsessed with East Asian cuisine (particularly Taiwanese and regional Chinese) and culture which mostly stems from a trip to Hong Kong a few years ago. Otherwise I am a bit of a social hermit who just loves to spend time on my laptop listening to music (mostly progressive metal).
Can you tell me more about your photographic experience; is this something that you’ve studied or maybe a hobby that you’ve developed?
I never really thought about photography especially when I was younger, but I always liked exploring and I usually took (admittedly poor) photos of most places I visited with whatever phone or cheap camera I had at the time. My interested in photography didn’t really take off until my sister recommended using Instagram one day, after a little while I started to pay more attention to what I was posting and was really encouraged by the positive feedback to try and improve culminating in buying my DSLR camera 3 ½ years ago. It is still a hobby; I have very little clue about the more technical side of photography and what I do know I am completely self-taught, and I feel a lot of my best photos are more due to luck than anything else.
Do you have a favoured camera or device that you use for your Instagram photography?
For most of my photos I use my Nikon D5500 which has been my trusted companion for pretty much every major trip I have taken since I got it. I primarily just use the kit 18-55m lens it came with, but also have a 55-300mm zoom lens which is awesome especially for wildlife/animal photos. I also us whatever phone I have at the time for those moments when I don’t have it with me. However, I recently got myself a Samsung Galaxy S10+ and was amazed by the quality of the cameras on it, especially the wide-angle lens, which has opened up a load of new opportunities especially with landscape photography. As a result,my photography is now split roughly 50/50 between phone and camera dependent on what I am shooting.
For most of my photos I use my Nikon D5500 which has been my trusted companion for pretty much every major trip I have taken since I got it.
Exploring the theme of local, the south coast has a wide variety of climatic conditions, buildings and landscapes. Are there any places or environments that are personal to you or that you love to photograph?
Anyone who has followed me for any amount of time will probably guess that the Spinnaker Tower is one of my favourite things to photograph, indeed I am amazed I can still find new perspectives of it. I also love to photograph sunsets and any of the local beaches are usually good spots to capture it, I usually go to Lee-on-the-Solent primarily because it is the closest beach to my house but I have caught some absolute stunners from down there. Overall, I just love taking photos of anything that grabs my eye, be it landscapes, architecture or cute animals.
For you what makes a good photograph stand out?
I find colour is paramount to a good photograph, and bold colours can really make a landscape stand out. Also, something that offers a unique perspective on an otherwise popular location can really stand out to me. Finally, I find sometimes the best photos are the imperfect or unintentional ones, as sometimes a small bit of movement or light change can result in some really unique images.
Sometimes just seeing something amazing unfold before you is satisfaction enough and if I can get a photo that does the scene justice it makes the journey and effort worthwhile no matter what anyone else thinks.
Would you say that you take photos more for yourself or for others?
While I will admit to going out and getting photographs for my Instagram audience occasionally, a lot of my photography stems more from my sense of adventure and documenting the places I have visited for myself. Sometimes just seeing something amazing unfold before you is satisfaction enough and if I can get a photo that does the scene justice it makes the journey and effort worthwhile no matter what anyone else thinks. And that I guess that’s why photography is so rewarding as a hobby in a sense, and if other people enjoy my photos too that’s just a bonus.
Are there any other photographers who either influence you or that you would encourage our readers to also check out?
There are so many talented photographers in the Portsmouth area I couldn’t possibly name them all that have influenced my work. However, there are a few pages I feel I should mention. My biggest local photography inspiration is Max Williams (@maxwilliamsphotography), whose work is just consistently stunning and proof of how far effort and dedication can get you, and a great guy as well. Another favourite is Leon Slater (@leon.slater) who is a friend of mine and whose work just goes to show you don’t need a DSLR to create top quality images. A couple of other local feeds I enjoy include @jon_tyrrell, @jestermaverick111, @lizzie_l_barrett, @christinematchett and @jessc.miller (her intentional movement pics are awesome, I really need to try that out one day).
Further afield, some favourites of mine include @gunnersh1va, @raedongo_travels, @slc_photography_, @abyherbert and @katrinacawsey, all of which have influenced my photography in some way or another.
And a final shout out to my best friend Mike Long (@mikealanlong) who I met on Instagram and has been a major figure in my photography journey and has a very nice feed full of nature and plant photos too if that is your sort of thing.
If you would like to get involved or know of a photographer that you think should be on our radar then please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.