Interview, Manchester

Filmmaker and photographer George Butcher talks Manchester, body confidence and hard work

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By Jacque Talbot

George Butcher, 23, is a filmmaker and photographer who has been freelancing for a year and a half. Originally from the South-East, George has recently decided to relocate to Manchester. To coincide with 2016 World Photo Day, Humanity Hallows spoke to George about his experience of freelancing, how to work with models and what makes a good picture.

How did you get into photography? Was it a passion of yours from a young age?

I went to college to study media, I always thought that I wanted to be a journalist but that was before I went to college. During my studies there I wrote for Bleacher Report, got a couple of thousand views in wrestling and current sport affairs. I then unexpectedly fell in love with both photography and film – basically anything with a camera. I’m glad because now I am actually doing the thing I love, and as a freelancer, I am able to be my own boss. I still enjoy working with others which is why I have my own company called Pictureshot Photos, which is recently taking off.

Do you have a particular subject that you specialise in?

It could be wedding, portraits or even in-studio but my passion lies in portrait photography, which means photographing people. There are only so many places and things you can shoot, but you’ll never run out of people. You can go to, say New York, where everyone is trying to get good pictures of the scenery but eventually that becomes recycled. In photographing and filming people there will always be differences, you’ll never get the same shot.

What obstacles have you had to overcome to get where you are today?

It’s hard when there is no work, and it was really hard for me when I first started out. You start questioning your own ability and looking at yourself negatively. But you’ve got to man up and get on with it and say to yourself, “No, I am going to make sure that I get better.” For 6 months to a year, I was kind of lost. Then all of a sudden this guy kept coming into my dad’s tattoo parlour to take photos of my dad’s work. I saw him film and photograph and I suddenly thought, “I want to do that!” I eventually mustered up the courage and messaged him, saying, “Can I be your apprentice, you don’t have to pay me anything.” I did end up working with him for a while, mostly last year. I’ve learnt a great deal and got plenty of experience. I’ve fallen in love with it.

Why have you relocated to Manchester from the South East?

I have moved here because it is a media city. Back in Chelmsford, Essex, it’s very limited to what you can actually do. You have to go into London to find work but it’s just too expensive. I have only been here a short while but I love the city already. It’s so visually appealing, particularly for me as a photographer. All the intricate designs on the little buildings, even some university accommodation is spellbinding. They look really cool and really modern. And of course I love the Northern Quarter. Manchester is just very different to Essex. Of course I miss it there, because I am close to my family but up here it’s so friendly. Everywhere feels fairly close. You can go to this place and then go to another place and then another, but it all seems 10 minutes away even though the city is massive.

What do you hope to achieve now you’re here?

In Manchester I want to create my own studio, so people can then come to me for work. Ultimately, I want to get my business off the ground. I met this guy within the first few days of being here. He is starting up a clothing range, based in Manchester called Norty North. They are a company who sell t-shirts and tracksuits. So I’ll be shooting a few pictures for them, and then I will helping them create a video-ad. I’ve been saving and making smart purchases to further my career, so recently I’ve been upgrading my equipment. I now have a 50mm and 85mm lens, Canon 70D with SanDisk extreme 64 GB SD card, a Rode Microphone and a Gorilla Grip tripod.

What makes your work different from other artists?

I don’t like when people look into the camera. For me, to try and stand out, it’s important to try and make a picture as natural as possible. The person, although they are in reality posing for a photoshoot, will come off as doing their own thing. I am trying to be different and not be fake.

And how do you make your work eye-catching?

Sexuality is a big thing in photography. It doesn’t matter about sizes or anything, you don’t have to be a long legged supermodel or David Beckham to have an amazing photo taken. Confidence, the way they are, is much more important. If they are glowing in confidence then there’s no reason that they can’t have a good shoot. People think that they can’t take a good photo because they think they’re ugly or overweight, but I am not going to judge anybody on that. You want a photoshoot with me you can come and get a photoshoot with me, no matter what and I will make damn sure you feel comfortable in your own body.

How do you harness your skill?

Of course I am always looking at other people’s work, different poses, and different types of photography. I don’t steal off people, only get inspired. It’s important to try and work at anything and everything you love. This is why I am actually starting my own vlog on YouTube. I will be posting about all my travels and experiences. Starting with here in Manchester.

Do you have any advice for Manchester Met students aiming to build a career in filmmaking or photography?

I would say it is a good idea to find someone with experience and work alongside them. You may create contacts, through your own work and through theirs. Try and get as many shoots as you can done, even if they’re for free; don’t worry, the money will eventually come. Don’t panic, do something that you love, do it for the experience, do it because it’s something you cherish and something you want to do. I’ve done so many free shoots but it doesn’t matter because it’s put me where I am today. Say yes to everything.

Where can we find you next?

I am setting up a fundraiser so I can buy all the best and most professional equipment. I would like a little home studio. Usually a studio shoot is about £130, but with this it’s £25 for the voucher and then all of the people that help me will get a studio shoot for this hugely cut price. If you’re an aspiring model, please get in touch with me via social media.

To get in touch with George and find out more about his work, see the Pictureshot Photos Facebook page

About the author / 

Jacque Talbot

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