Thursday March 2nd 2023
Stephen Ball photographer. Copyright Stephen Ball Photography
In the second of a series of feature interviews with people in Midlothian reporter Sofia Villegas met with Midlothian photographer Stephen Ball.
Stephen Ball, a multi-award-winning photographer, has called Midlothian home for the last 25 years. Originally from London, he moved to Scotland in his early twenties. Although he settled down in the area for love, bearing it is where he met his wife, the local settings have helped him build a national reputation in the industry. Capturing a photograph of a poppy field ‘literally around the corner’ from where he lives, as he explained, led him to win the commended award for UK landscape photography of the year, which then went on a national tour.
Poppy Field. UK landscape photography of the year. Copyright Stephen Ball Photography
In 1996, Ball graduated as a Theatre & Lightning Designer and shortly after began working in London’s West End. When he first moved to Edinburgh, he used to work for the theatre industry, yet was unfortunately made redundant.
Photography runs in the family. His father-in-law was a Canon sales representative and a photography lecturer and, his wife used to be the manager of a camera shop. However, his interest in grabbing shots started long before this coincidence. “I guess looking back, even when I was a kid, I had a bit of an interest in it, because I went off to Yosemite National Park in America and really enjoyed taking photographs there. And, that was back when it was filmed, so you’d have like ten films, put into boots, and then wait a fortnight to see what you’ve got,” he explained.
Much to my surprise, all he knows is widely self-taught. A mixture of innate talent and strong dedication. “I used to go to a camera club in Penicuik, that my father-in-law started back in 1985 but it’s mostly just a lot of trial and error. I entered competitions and got feedback, looked at YouTube videos and magazines over the years,” he says. Talking further on his key to success, he added, “I’m not one of these photographers that shoots and automatically lets the camera do it. I’m always a believer in trying to get it right in the camera. I used to take hundreds if not thousands of photos, but now, I spend more time getting it right in the camera.”
Full of remarkable castles and breathtaking viewpoints, Scotland has become the gift that keeps on giving to Ball’s photography. “Scotland’s just got so much and it’s not too far to travel to, which I think is quite good. There are so many different spots, and locations across Scotland, it’s fascinating to go and photograph. I enjoy photographing places that people recognise because I sell a lot of my prints around the world,” he commented. Ball’s art has reached 26 countries.
Dalkeith Country Park. Copyright Stephen Ball Photography
He has won the commended award for UK’s best landscape three years in a row, and the commended award for Scottish best landscape twice, yet he acknowledges how difficult it is to make it in the industry. Speaking about his most recent commended award, he said, “I submitted about 35 images to the UK landscape photographer of the year commended award. And there are thousands of entries across the UK. It gives you a bit of reassurance that your photography is correct. It’s getting that sort of recognition.”
On top of the numerous commended awards, Ball already enjoyed recognition from a sold-out book – an album inspired by the Scottish landscape. However, this is just the beginning of a great career, as he is set to host ten talks across the UK next year and release a second book this upcoming summer.
Ball currently works for the government, yet looks forward to the moment his passion becomes his full-time job. “I’m hoping one day that this might let me reduce my full-time hours and do this a wee bit more,” he added.
You can see more of Stephen’s work at www.stephenballphotography.comTweet Share on Facebook