Pro Team Liam Lonsdale ©Vertical Life Climbing

Published on November 1st, 2018 | by Alison Barclay

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Pro Team: Liam Lonsdale

Our Pro Team are a fantastic group of talented photographers, many of whom have used 3 Legged Thing tripods and accessories for several years. Each month we introduce you to a  different member of the team, using short Q&As to give you some insight into how they work, what equipment they use, and how they became professional photographers.

Next in the series is Liam Lonsdale, a specialist climbing and landscape photographer.

What is your earliest memory of handling a camera?

“There are pictures of me taking photos and running around with a camera as a three year old at a family wedding. Honestly speaking, I don’t remember that day.

“I would say that my earliest memory of handling a camera and feeling like it was a ‘significant tool’ was when I was around 12 years old. We were in Crete, if I remember correctly, and I remember holding the camera and thinking that I could frame the shot differently to how my parents were taking the photo (stood/square on) to portray a more creative scene. And it carried on from there.”

Black Crag. Photo by Liam Lonsdale.

Was there a single event that made you decide to become a professional photographer?

It depends how I interpret the question. I was contemplating going ‘pro’ for a little while and a friend of mine, who had done something similar, told me that I had to come up with a date, and promise him that I would have quit my job by that date. I guess you could say that our conversation really gave me the impetus to go ahead and commit. I quit my job 10 days before the promise was due to break.

“The actual process of wanting to be professional is more a series of events that led to that single point. I was working in marketing, location-producing shoots for the company I was employed by at the time. I would be out on the shoots, and all I could think was, I wish I was shooting this … I would shoot that like this… I wonder how it would look if we shot it like that … etc. I wanted to go out and shoot for the company, but technically speaking, it wasn’t my job. That was when I realised I was in the wrong job.”

What is your favourite location to capture?

“That’s my least favourite question to answer, I can tell you that much. It’s impossible to pick one. In 2018 alone I have already visited 16 countries (not including the UK). Each of them is uniquely beautiful. Each of them has a special place in my heart. It’s a good problem to have, not being able to choose a favourite, right?”

Social media – love it or hate it?

“I love the way it enables me to reach people all over the world in an instant. I love the sense of community that it can bring to an otherwise isolated lifestyle. I love the way it can inspire me and those around me.

“I hate the control that it has over people. I hate it when it is misused. I hate the fact that you have to play games to maximise reach with the algorithms.”

Alex Megos and Miguel Casar at the Slegis Dam. Photo by Liam Lonsdale.

Favourite camera you have ever used or owned, and why?

“I think at this stage I have to say the 5d Mk3 because it really gave me the power to flex my creativity in all conditions for the first time, or at least I truly trusted it to.

“Recently I have been playing with a Fujifilm GFX 50S and I have to say, I am enjoying that a lot.”

What’s in your kit bag?

“A lot of stuff. It’s heavy. Too heavy. Ask my chiropractor.

“I almost always have x2 Winstons with me. He’s my favourite; giving me versatility in challenging terrain for placing cameras and lights … and at a weight that is manageable when hiking all day, for multiple days.

“At the moment my go-to body/lens configuration for shooting on a cliff is my trusty Canon 5d mk3 + 16-35 2.8L / Canon 5d mk3 + 70-200 f2.8L.

 “I play with a few different light set-ups but my fast and light kit right now is x2 Canon Speedlight 530 ex II’s with MagMod MagSphere, MagGrid & MagBeam in the bag to manipulate the light as required.

“On top of all that … there is all of the equipment I need to access locations, protect myself and store my gear whilst working too. I use the Peak Design Leash, Capture V3, Pro Pad and Lens Kit in my everyday setup.”

Liam Lonsdale in the Alps. Photo by Alex Buisse.

Photo of Liam Lonsdale in the Alps, by Alex Buisse.

Name 5 essential items in your photography bag.

“Other than my cameras … For sure two of my essentials are 3LT products: 

  • Eclipse Winston + AirHed 360
  • Iggy + The Cradle.

Both essentials.”

“Iggy is utilised as a stand when I want to light from the floor, and also for my iPhone X when I want to shoot BTS of what I am working on, but don’t have an extra pair of hands to help me out.

  • MagMod MagBeam … this thing (actually I usually work with two of them) totally changed the game for how I light my shots in the mountains and on cliffs. It enables me to light shots in ways that I couldn’t have done previously.
  • Aeropress + Coffee. I almost ALWAYS have my coffee setup with me. There’s nothing better than brewing up a fresh coffee in the mountains when the energy starts to slump; and it really picks up the mood of anyone else in the team too. Sharing is caring.
  • iPhone X. I use it for everything, edits on the fly in Lightroom CC, social posts, topo’s and maps using the Vertical Life Climbing App, tracking light and weather, insuring my gear using Trōv. I cannot be without it.”

Malham Cove. Photo by Liam Lonsdale

Are there any strange/unusual items in your photo bag? Household bits?

“Well, I guess a lot of people would consider the majority of my kit to be strange. Helmet, harness, ropes, a multitude of carabiners and other pieces of climbing equipment. Sometimes ice axes, crampons … depends on the shoot.”

How would you describe your style of photography?

“Extreme.

“Ha. In all seriousness, the majority of what I shoot is for commercial clients therefore the aesthetic is generally very ‘natural’, and often determined by the location and the conditions. The aim being to show an athlete and a product in the environment it was designed for, performing at the maximum. I try to be creative with set up and framing to put my own interpretation on that — the rest is fairly limited. I am a big fan of dramatic light, especially if it’s natural; that said, I’m not afraid to improvise and pull out the MagBeam to make it happen too.”

What is one question you’d like to be asked and never have been?

“Please will you shoot the cover of Nat Geo for us?”

Photos ©Liam Lonsdale, except where noted.

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