Photography is a huge part of everyone’s life, whether you are conscious about it or not. Prime question really, do you have a phone? Usually the answer seems to be yes, no surprise there really. That typically means that you have a camera on your phone; unless an accident has meant you are using a brick phone, which doesn’t quite have today’s standard technology does it? So with the camera on your phone you either have instagram uploaded (that meal you’ve just made deserves a photo) or you take snaps for times to remember.

So photography really is carried around everywhere, literally, so does this mean that the value of photography is slowly slipping with every snap? As a well-known name around the University of Southampton and a freelance photographer I take time to ask Alick Cotterill a few questions.

Nicola Manuel: Hello! So as a bit of a starter I’ll ask you to introduce yourself to people who many not recognise your name…

Alick Cotterill: First of all, thanks for having me! I’m Alick – a 23 year old Welsh lad who is now lost in the depths of southern England after graduating from Winchester School of Art in 2010 with a degree in Graphic Arts, specialising in Photography and Digital Media. Currently I spend my time both working for the same college as the Photography and Audio/visual technician and freelancing here there and everywhere across the UK.

Alick Cotterill ©

NM: Having graduated from Winchester School of Art in Graphic Arts: Photography, what is the one aspect that you learnt that you would carry forward within your future career?

AC: I think the main thing that I learned was to understand that you get out of life what you put in.  I honestly believe that if you have somewhere you want to get to, you can get there, dreams can become reality, but only if you really want them to and are willing to put all the effort in. I’m not sure if there was a particular part of university life that taught me this – rather it’s just something that has become a life philosophy. I think I’m an ambitious fellow, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It may be a long road, but if I’m committed to getting there, I will indeed get there. (Note. Ask me again in 20 years and I’ll tell you whether or not I was right)

NM:  ‘Photography is losing its value due to the easy access of it in today’s modern world.’ How much do you agree with this statement and why?

AC: I’ll quite confidently disagree with that. If anything the value (culturally, not financially) of photography may well be increasing, as it becomes more and more accessible, more people are becoming interested in it, in its many forms. Public awareness of photography has increased, with both positive and negative effects, but I still think a great photograph today will be just as memorable and powerful as one from years ago. Others will say that the explosion of cameras on the streets is ruining the profession, but I don’t believe it’s as simple as that and there are huge benefits both socially and in the sharing of information. The whole debate is so big I’m actually starting to get a bit tired and bored of it now… We might as well just accept the leaps in technology, adapting-to and actively embracing them. That being said, if anyone wants to continue the discussion, let’s organise another ‘Is photography over?’ conference, in a pub, involving a brief agreement that it’s not over, followed by lots of jolly quaffing.

Alick Cotterill ©

NM:  Having photographed a variety of subject matters from fashion to youth music and news events you really have dabbled in a mixture. Have you any preferred subject matter to work with or are you quite open-minded to a variety?

AC: Right now – I’m open to a variety. I find it all interesting, whether working with one portrait subject, models, hundreds of screaming kids, or landscapes devoid of the human presence. I guess my approach to each is different – and often the pictures that result are different, most of the time so much so that you wouldn’t know they’d been taken by the same photographer. At the moment this is my biggest worry, I know I am versatile but it seems to be at the sacrifice of a recognisable style across my work. This is something I am grappling with at the moment and hopefully the style will resolve itself more as I develop further as a person. As I said, it’s a long road.

If you look at my personal work, this is the work that I guess I find the most interesting, but it’s totally different to shooting for a client. Most of the personal work is a result of long walks/bike-rides by myself when I really have a lot of time to consider what I’m doing and enjoy the physical and social landscapes of the environment around me.

Alick Cotterill ©

NM: If you were to name one place in the world that you’d like to photograph where would it be and why?

AC: I’m actually quite happy right here in the UK, I’d like to continue photographing around the coastal communities to produce a large body of work, so more time/funding to do that would be a complete godsend. Parachute me in anywhere on the globe though and I’d be ready to go and find interesting bits and pieces, cameras at the ready. There is so much to the human condition and this planet, it’ll never get old because it is changing all the time and will continue to do so until the sun burns out (only 5 billion years or so left, start your panic-buying now).

Time for some quick round questions to finish off…

Night time or day time photography? The twilight time in between. Or day time.

Film or digital? No no no you can’t ask me that! Both just tools, both good in different situations. Curse this question! Gah.

Place or person? These questions are hard. Person, in a place.

Colour or black and white? Colour for me, but I appreciate both.

Earth or space? Earth. Plenty of time to explore space in the afterlife, while trying to avoid that geezer God – he’s not real anyway. At least I hope not.

Custard creams or digestives? Custard creams. Yum.

Alick Cotterill ©

Would you like to see a little more about this 23 year old Alick chap from Winchester? Just click here. His website is full of brilliant photos including a bit of musiceditorialfashion and some of his personal stuff.

Photography will always play a role within your life. Capturing that moment in life is vital, that moment that so quickly disappears from the present into the past. It is that moment that stays with you and makes you realise the beauty of the world instead of dealing with the complexity and complications of life. Having interviewed Alick I definitely must agree that photography really is growing in this world, with more and more people becoming interested in it. Grab your camera, go find a local place and see what your eye can capture.


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