I wanted to share with you a series from Yayu Wildforest in Ethiopia that I produced in collaboration with Union Roasted coffee, Kew Gardens and the Darwin Trust. As one of the last remaining mountain forest fragments of Arabica coffee (the origin for the world’s most popular coffee), the Yayu Coffee Forest Biosphere in Ethiopia is vital for its preservation and conservation. To prevent further damage to the forest or loss of coffee species, the local communities need to have other sustainable livelihood options.
Why did you get into photography?
I first established an interest in photography when I was 15. There was a forest fire near my family home, and I remember watching the fire destroying the woods that I played in and feeling the need to document it before it disappeared. I sent the photos to my local newspaper, and my photos were published the next day. My love of photography blossomed from that point.
I always wanted to be a painter, sculpture or designer. Photography was something very pure then, I was enjoying documenting what was around me.
What photographers are your biggest influences?
Nick Knight, Norman Parkinson, Mike Brodie, Joel Sartore, Tim Walker, Elliot Erwitt and Sebastian Salgado.
Want to walk us through your processing techniques?
I first learned to edit on Photoshop, so I tend to do the bulk of my editing on there. I use Lightroom as the base adjustments. I’ve always love editing – it’s like painting and a way of developing my own signature.
Tell us a bit about the gear that you use and how you feel it helps you achieve your creative vision.
I’ve recently changed camera systems from a Canon 5D Mark III to a Leica M240. The Leica M240 is more suited to what I want to create as a photographer – it’s discreet, has intensely rich colour and excellent dynamic range. I still love Canon but the body combined with four lenses requires a large camera bag while the Leica and four lenses fit inside a small shoulder bag.
What motivates you to shoot?
Whether it’s shooting in my home of London or abroad, I still love the feeling of discovery. I’m inquisitive and love striking up a conversation with strangers on the street so, in many ways, photography is just a tool for that.
I never consciously motivate myself to shoot, but I think that is due to being engaged to another photographer. Street shooting with my partner Alan Schaller is one of my favourite things to do – we bounce ideas off each other, help point out or set up shots and discuss all things photography. We will soon be launching workshops in London.