Eerie forests, lone trees and mouthwatering scenery: the contemplative work of Finn Beales has taken the Instagram world by storm, as part of a rising trend of artists who thrive on the Internet. Beales has always had a love for exploring the world’s hidden places. By choosing to live in relative solitude in the Black Mountains of Wales, Beales enjoys reading, thinking and exploring the world through his iPhone camera lens. The nearest town has only 1,500 people giving Beales time to explore the relationship between wildlife, people and nature through his Canon camera lens.
“All sorts of things inspire me, but I’m particularly fascinated by the relative lifespan of the world around us compared to ourselves.
Beales received his first lesson in composition from his grandfather when he was five years old on a family holiday in Western Wales. After graduating from college, Finn started a digital design firm focused on producing websites and photographing events, food and lifestyle imagery. Working for the firm allowed Beales to develop an ever-growing passion for travel.
In his free time, Beales enjoys snowboarding, riding horses, canoeing, hiking and gardening. Beale’s passion for wildlife and nature has given him a passion for shooting when conditions are less than ideal. He believes this gives him time to connect with the world around him and share special moments that cannot be recreated. Poor conditions create dramatic scenery that can be used to create the exquisite images that Beales is known for. Beales enjoys shooting on misty mornings, in gale force winds, think snow blizzards and driving rain.
All of Beales’ photos focus on his relationship with nature and the world around him. When he includes another person, Beales refrains from incorporating faces to keep the focus on the image’s scenery. Sometimes he will include his feet in the image to provide the viewer with a glimpse of his perspective. But most of his images are of the landscapes (roads, mountains, rivers and sunlight) around him.
“Enjoy today. You’re not promised tomorrow.”
Wales is also known for abundant fog and rain. Beales has discovered that the fog is an advantage because it is perfect for isolated subjects. When editing foggy images with Snapseed, Beales reduces the “ambiance” to add more depth than the iPhone camera can capture. Other times, Beales underexposes his images before using Instagram’s “Lux” filter to reduce contrast and soften the photo intensity.
While featured on Instagram’s official blog in June 2012, Beales offered insight into the process he uses to shoot and edit photos. Beales focuses on “dodging and burning,” a photo-editing technique made popular by the regarded landscape photographer Ansel Adams. First, Beales focuses on finding a unique vantage point that sits in the center of the frame. In doing so, Beales defies the standard rule of thirds taught in photography classes. His reasoning is that the rule of thirds/golden ration loses its power with the square frame that Instagram requires. Thus, Beales focuses on symmetry because of its “association with beauty and is found is virtually all forms of nature.”2 When shooting with the native iPhone camera app, Beales likes to keep the sky and shadows in the image. After taking the photo, Beales uses Snapseed to edit his photos. He focuses on brightening the highlights, darkening the shadows and focusing on the center of the image to maintain consistency from image-to-image. This technique is known as dodging and burning.
Beales always has his iPhone camera with him, providing him with an opportunity to take a photo at any moment. With a passion for hiking, kayaking and exploring, Beales notes that large cameras merely distract him. Additionally, Beales can edit his photos immediately and upload them to Instagram thereafter.
Outside of Instagram, Beales is a documentary photographer who focuses on telling a story or developing a narrative through a collection of images. This style of photography provides a sharp contrast to his Instagram posts – most of the narrative images focus on people. In doing so, Beales gives his audience insight into a new culture by focusing on faces, food and music. Together, the collection of images creates the story.
Beales work represents a rising tide of Instagram photographers who have used the Internet to establish a brand. With the Internet, it does not matter where an artist lives or who they know. Instead, artists must focus on engaging with audiences in a way that is only possible with the Internet. Upon doing so, growth is viral – recommendations create exponential growth.
Nevertheless, Beales has observed that the business model for landscape photographers has changed dramatically in recent years. iPhone cameras have improved dramatically giving anybody the opportunity to take photos that could appear in magazines or newspapers. Thus, supply has increased causing the price for photos to decrease. But Beales remains bullish on his business model because of Instagram – he uses the platform to connect with brands and businesses while reaching a global audience.
Beale’s work tells the story of the world. Through his use of Instagram, he has earned a large following by sharing images of his travels and unique perspective on the world. Through documentary photography, Beales continues to showcase various cultures around the world and expand on his passion for storytelling.