5 Minutes with Nick Miners

We touch base with dedicated freelance photographer Nick Miners, quizzing him about his Icelandic excursions, commercial commissions in London and everything in between...

By Rise Art | 20 Apr 2016

We manage to catch Nick Miners for a moment of calm in the midst of his busy schedule, squeezing in a quick Q&A and quizzing him about his Icelandic excursions, commercial commissions in London and everything in between...


Nick in the studio on a commercial commission


When did you first discover photography?

I've always been aware of it for as long as I can remember. My Dad had an SLR and took it with him whenever we went on holiday or on walks. Eventually I tried it myself and loved it, and got my own SLR as a Christmas present when still at school.

Is it a struggle to balance your practice between commercial jobs and personal projects?

Not in terms of time, as my commercial work isn't taking up too much of my time at the moment. Of course if I had more work I'd earn enough to be able to afford more photography tours and unpaid shoots such as those for my Icelanders in London project, but I do view the photography I do outside the commercial side as an investment, as it can get me noticed and thus bring me to the attention of more potential customers.

Nick on location in Iceland. Photo Credit: Anna Kunst


When did you take your first trip to Iceland and was it really love at first sight?

I first went in 1999, with my partner and our 6 month old son. It was love at first sight, of course. The journey from the airport to Reykjavík takes you through miles and miles of nothing but lava, with only moss for vegetation. Reykjavík itself is a compact, vibrant, colourful and friendly city with a mix of modern and more traditional architecture, but when you drive out into the countryside you are confronted with an overwhelming variety of landscapes that can't help but draw you in.

You call Iceland your second home, what is it about London that always draws you back?

I don't have any particular affinity to London - it's a lovely city, and I really enjoy discovering its hidden places, of which I find more almost every time I head in, but it's so vast that I find it impersonal. Of course most of my work takes place in London, and there is so much amazing architecture and interior design that I'm always excited to see what is coming around the corner.

Nick on location in Iceland. Photo Credit: Anna Kunst


You talk about the ‘elusive perfect photograph’. Do you think you’ve ever caught it?

No. After every commercial shoot or photo tour I find one photo that stands out, but I'm my own harshest critic and can always find something about it that I could do better. I don't really want to catch the perfect photo, as then there would be no incentive or room to improve, and besides, I believe there is beauty in imperfection!

What’s your weapon of choice?

I use a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Mark II for backup. The lens I enjoy using most is the Canon 85mm f/1.2 which is perfect for portraits, making it almost impossible to take a bad photo. For landscapes I love using the latest Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 - the long end lets me capture details that help to add an element of abstraction that I like, whereas I can still use the wider end for more recognisable scenes.

Sediment by Nick Miners


How did you get into aerial photography? Are you a bit of a thrill seeker?!

Who doesn't like a thrill now and then? I'm not a nervous flyer, so the only worry is sticking nearly £4,000 worth of camera equipment out of a moving plane window, but with a round-the-body strap even that risk is mitigated. I have a friend in Reykjavík, Daníel, who is a trained pilot and when I was over to cover the Iceland Airwaves music festival in 2012 we spoke about doing some aerial photography. One of his fellow flying-club members took me up on a beautiful clear wintery Sunday following a week of extremely cold and high winds. The following year I was able to go up again with Daníel, and he had a faster plane so we were able to cover more ground in the same time.

Who do you look to for inspiration? Or where do you go?

I have many friends who are photographers - not all professional - and I get inspired seeing how their approach to photography differs from or coincides with my own. Most of all, though, I'm inspired by the places I go - if I'm doing landscape work then the light could suddenly become amazing, and the landscape elements come together in a way that means the photograph is just screaming out to be captured.

Describe your photographs in 3 words.

Personal, imperfect, impressionistic.

Nick in the studio on a commercial commission


Lastly, do you have any advice for emerging freelance photographers?

Don't do it! No, seriously - be prepared to be judged on more than just your photos; running a commercial photography business is as much (if not more) about finding and retaining good clients than it is about taking great photos. Learn to know your style and how to adapt it to meet your client's needs. Don't be too proud to ask for help from other photographers - they should be your friends and colleauges, rather than competitors. Don't work for free - it devalues your work and that of your fellow photographers. And there will always be days when you wonder why you bothered - but the days when your clients sing your praises make it all worthwhile, so stick at it!

Nick's portfolio is incredibly diverse, with beautiful landscape photographs, from the serene English countryside and coastline, to stark brutalist inspired architectural shots, and of course his stunning Icelandic works. Browse all of his artworks on the Rise Art site and find your next perfect piece!


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