James Langford is a talented landscape photographer based in Kaiapoi, just north of Christchurch, New Zealand. His photography caught our attention on Instagram because James does an amazing job of capturing the incredible beauty of New Zealand, including the Banks Peninsula hills right behind the Not Another™ Studio. We caught up with James over a phone call while New Zealand was on full lockdown.
All photos courtesy of James Langford.
Tell me a little bit about when you first got into photography and why?
I started taking photos in my final year of high school, four or five years ago now. I think what really started it was my first time leaving the country; I went to Europe, the UK and we spent a few days in Paris and stuff. I think just being able to take photos, and capture those moments that make those memories — that's the main reason why I started doing it. It was just on my phone — I didn’t have a camera at the time — and from there I just slowly kept working on it. I just fell in love with traveling and exploring then, and I’ve done it ever since.
It's easier than ever now for people to start out on their phone. What do you have to say to anyone who says they can't afford photography equipment?
You can use anything. You can use your phone — like you said, phone cameras are really good these days. It doesn’t matter what phone you have, most of them take photos so it’s certainly a lot more accessible than what it used to be. You don’t even need a flash camera to do it, you need just your standard point-and-shoot digital camera and that’ll do a good job to capture those moments for you to look back on in time.
You take a lot of photos of Banks Peninsula, which is what Mark and I particularly loved as it’s so close to our home. What is it that you like most about shooting over on the peninsula?
Definitely the fact that it's local, it's close to Christchurch. It’s such an asset to our city and it's got a lot of variety there. You know, you've got those coastal elements around Godley Head and Taylor’s Mistake and then you can go out to Akaora for a day trip and then the hills themselves, and the walking tracks; there’s just so much to do there.
How much do you have to work with in terms of scenery being based in Christchurch?
Christchurch is a fantastic location. You’ve got the hills on your doorstep there, you’ve got many beaches. If you wanted to, you could go skiing and surfing in the same day. It’s a fantastic location for that, there’s just so many places you can go. There’s Arthur’s Pass which I think is really underrated, there are so many cool places there: you can go walking, you can see the keas and you’re just surrounded by this amazing alpine environment. Then you go out to Sumner which is a really nice beachy vibe, or New Brighton. Christchurch is great — there’s no place I’d rather be.
How eager are you to get back out there after lockdown and snapping away again?
I’m really, really keen, I’m hoping Level 3 might allow me to get out a bit — just locally. Just out to some of those walking tracks or let me get the drone up again.
What’s some advice you've got for people getting into landscape photography?
I think just get out and explore really, get outside, that’s the first thing and then just keep snapping and keep practicing. I've never had a lesson or I never got taught photography in school or anything like that. Everything I've learned is self-taught, so it's just through practice and trial and error. YouTube is always a fantastic resource for learning new skills from so that's always good to use as a reference if you’re ever stuck on something, but you just can’t go past practice. Just keep shooting and keep taking photos when you're out and about. Build on it and you’ll get more and more skills.
Do you have an all-time favourite photo of yours?
I really like some of the stuff I've taken in Golden Bay. Some of the sunset shots with the rocks in the distance and the waves coming in — I really like that. But even some of my shots around Godley Head, especially around golden hour; it’s just a really beautiful outlook over the bays.
What do you do when you're not roaming around taking snaps?
I love golf. I live opposite a golf course here in Kaiapoi so it’s really handy -- sort of like my backyard. I work as a quantity surveyor for a construction company as my day job. Photography is just something I do on the side as a hobby -- it keeps me reasonably busy between other things.