Chasing sunshine with Hannah Argyle

Meet your mentor Hannah Argyle!

Hannah Argyle’s light filled captures will inspire anyone. The talented photographer lives in Northampton in England’s East Midlands with her family including her two beautiful boys and the rather large Albert the rescue dog who all feature as her muses. Hannah has an incredible eye for capturing light, anywhere from a simple window vignette in her Victorian terraced house, a beautiful wall with a perfectly cast shadow to the golden magic of the countryside. Did I also mention that Hannah is partial to a still life and flatlay arrangement. She certainly has something to inspire everyone and I personally have been a long time follower on her journey.

We are so lucky Hannah is very generous to share her tips with us and what she has learnt on her photography journey. We had a chat with the lovely [not to mention modest] Hannah to find out more about what inspires her.

Q&A with Hannah

Hey Hannah! Thanks for joining us to mentor our Creatively Squared challenge all about lighting, our community requested you many times over so we are thrilled to have you here. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Thanks so much for having me! I live in Northampton in the UK, in a Victorian house that is very much a work in progress! I'm a Mum to two boys, who you may see pop up in my feed from time to time. I've been a full time photographer for about 3 years, working mainly to create content for brands here on Instagram and on paid collaborations on my feed. and I also offer tuition sessions in my studio here in Northampton.

Can you tell us about your creative process, how do you come up with ideas for what to share next on your Instagram account?

My creative process is very much lead by what "ingredients" I have to hand. I love photographing nature, so my work tends rot be very seasonal. I'm always looking for something to make an image just a little bit special, whether it's the frosty morning, or an autumn mist, or a beautiful golden hour... these conditions can turn any landscape or scene into a dream world. Because I don't live in a particularly photogenic place, I have learned to make the most of beautiful light or conditions. Aside from that, I love to photograph my home, my travels and my kids, and I try to go with wherever the mood takes me, and not limit myself to what may be more popular on Instagram!

You have a beautiful talent for capturing light. As a photographer, what are your top three tips you would give us aspiring image takers to capture the sunlight? Any dos and don’ts?

Thank you very much! Soft light is easier to work with ie. light filtered by clouds, or when the sun is low in the sky. I'm completely self taught and frustration lead me to find out what I wanted to know, after many a ruined photoshoot. Strong sunlight will create high contrasts and dark shadows, it's therefore difficult to expose the shot and can be unflattering with portraits, leaving dark shadows under the eyes and nose. 

My biggest tip would be practise, constantly. Figure out what went wrong, and what you could try next time. Try going out at golden hour and shooting towards the sun (backlit) to create a dreamy effect. Experiment with different angles and figure out which placement of the sun gives you the desired effect. 

If you have no choice but to shoot in the midday sun, try seeking shade. If you cut off the light from above (for example if you are under a tree) you will get that more flattering side light directed onto a face. 

I find each season the light has a different quality, and the longer I have been a photographer, the more I understand different lighting conditions and which are my favourite to work with! I am obsessed with light, I'm always watching what it's doing, where it enters a space and which direction it travels in throughout the day. The first thing I do when I travel with my job is work out where the sun will rise and set, and therefore which locations will work to shoot at which time of day. 

What equipment do you use? Any tricks which aid in enhancing the lighting of your captures?

I primarily use a Nikon D850, and a variety of different lenses. My favourite lenses are probably 50mm, 35mm and 70-200mm. I use a tripod for all my self portraiture, and I set my camera on a timer to take 9 shots. I'm yet to experiment with a remote shutter, I've just got used to doing it on a timer and it works for me! Not knowing when the exactly the camera will click gives my shots some of their spontaneous feel I think. I worry I'd lose this if I had a remote in my hand. 

I shoot in RAW which I think is the single most important thing you can do to optimise the light in your images. I edit in Lightroom on my laptop, or Lightroom mobile for iPhone images. I'm a believer in getting the light right before taking the image, and I think it's really pretty impossible to correct bad lighting through editing. I do like to reduce the highlights in the sky in my pictures though, to try and avoid a completely blown out sky.

Your account has a beautiful mix of countryside scenes, interior shots [with cameos from yourself, your boys and your rescue dog of course] along with floral flatlays and vignettes...do you have a favourite to photograph?

Thanks so much, I really like to mix it up! I do it for my own sake really, I think I'd get bored if I limited myself to one genre. Sometimes I think Instagram would like me better if I stuck to one thing, haha! In the end though it's got to be fun and to be able to maintain an account for a number of years, it's important to feel passionate about what you shoot. 

My favourite thing to photograph is probably my kids, closely followed by nature - wild flowers, golden hours, misty mornings etc. Having said that I really enjoy styling too!

What are your tips for successfully mixing these genres on your Instagram feed?

I guess keeping a constant style, colour palette and editing is all key to being able to post all sorts of pictures. It's the greatest complement when people say to me that they knew a picture was mine before they even saw the name. 

Do you have any tips for good lighting for your beautiful vignettes and flatlays?

I always use natural light from a window. Again my tip would be to learn to watch the light, look at the way it falls across objects in a room, what time of day you like it the best etc. If you have a flat lay close to a window, you'll have a more evenly lit image, if you move it further away you'll have moodier lighting. Once you know the light you can play with it, make long shadows a part of the composition, or use dappled light or strong contrasting light to create a really striking image. 

We can all relate to falling in and out of love with Instagram, how has your account evolved over time?

My account began as simply a way to keep myself amused and feel creative again after having my second baby. Having followers wasn't an aim, and it being a full time job was certainly not something I ever imagined! As it's grown there has obviously come a lot more pressure, and sometimes it can feel a bit overwhelming. I think many of us have made mistakes, done collaborations we wouldn't want to do again, posted picture we wouldn't post now! I've always been very open and honest on Instagram, and I've done my best to stay true to myself and carry on regardless with what I love doing, in spite of the algorithm! Having said that I'm also quite guarded about my children, and my life isn't an open book to anyone who chooses to dip in and out. I think it's a difficult thing to negotiate having a genuine voice and telling our story, yet still protecting our children and not leaving a digital footprint that they have no say in. I'm not necessarily getting it right but it's something I'm very conscious of.

Hannah xx

Hannah is the guest mentor for our June 3-10 creative challenge ‘Chase the Sun’ and will be featuring her favourite entries and feedback on the @creativelysquared Instagram account. You can find Hannah at @hannahargyle, her website or simply click on each image to take you directly to the post on Instagram. We invite you to join Hannah and the rest of the Creatively Squared community for some creative fun in the sun. Hit the button below for entry information and full resources.