During our recent shoot in Fforest, we caught up with Finn - an award-winning travel, lifestyle and commercial photographer based in Wales.
Ahead of launching our latest release, the Weston Adventure jacket, we asked Finn to put it to the test as he explored the woodland nearby. It was also a chance for us to dig a little deeper into Finns' outlook on creativity, his process and what he believes it means to be a Pioneer.
&SONS Pioneers - Finn Beales / Award winning photographer
So what for you is your definition of a pioneer?
I think a pioneer is someone who breaks new ground for others to follow. I mean, that was the original definition of pioneers in the west of America. And I think that definition still applies to pioneers today, even in the new world of the internet and the metaverse. Early adopters, I would say they are the pioneers of today.
"I think what I value most about photography is the access that it gives you to other people's lives. You meet some amazing characters doing this job."
How did you get into doing what you do?
I started life as a graphic designer, working for lots of different clients. And I couldn't find that type of photograph that I wanted from stock photography, websites like Getty and others around that time.
So I bought a camera to shoot work to complement the design stuff I was making, and I loved it. I loved meeting people through the pictures I was making, and I slowly let go of the design work as more photographic commissions crept in.
What values do you cherish the most in your work?
I think what I value most about photography is the access that it gives you to other people's lives. You meet some amazing characters doing this job.
I'm a curious person by nature. And I think having the camera in my hand gives me the privilege to explore other people's ways of living. And I find that really fascinating and rewarding.
There are so many characters that have stuck in my mind over the last ten years. From a mad Italian who bounced me across an ocean to an erupting volcano in his rubber dingy, insisting, I hike to the top to photograph the sunset eruptions.
Then there was the beekeeper on a mountain on the edge of Greece with quarter of a million bees. I guess spending time with these people and exploring their ways of life through pictures is just super rewarding.
How does it all begin? And, and what do you want to achieve with these projects?
I need for there to be a degree of story within the images that I make. And you hear that word a lot. In fact, I wrote an entire book about the concept of storytelling with photographs.
A story needs a character, a location, and an event to build a story around a set of pictures. And it's when those three elements collide that the magic really happens.
I've written two books. One is a teaching book; it's called 'The Storytelling Photography Workshop'. That came about off the back of a video workshop that I produced a couple of years ago. It's still very popular today, and I had a film crew follow me through the entire process of shooting a commercial campaign for Land Rover.
I think people have responded to that because it's almost like having an embedded assistant on a job. Then a publisher came to me after they'd seen it and said, this would make a really lovely title.
So I turned it into the written form, which I did over a lockdown and it went on to become a bestseller. I still receive messages every day from people saying how rewarding it is and how valuable it is.
Who inspires you?
To be inspired, I need to be curious about a subject or a person or a place. So it's those three elements. Again, it's like character and location. Like Fforest, where we're shooting this series of pictures, it's a really great example of what James, Sian Jackson and the boys have built here. The atmosphere, the architecture, the textiles and the food - it's a very holistic experience.
What brands inspire you?
Ah, so many. A brand that I'd like to shoot for is Filson. They have been around for hundreds of years.
It's because I like brands that respond to practical needs but make it cool too. You know, many outdoor apparel brands respond to a practical need, but they're not that sexy. Brands like Filson and of course, &SONS deliver a really beautiful product, but respond to a need in a practical sense. That's an interesting connection, because having worn the clothes over the last few days and experienced them; you've achieved both.
What for you is your 'stand-out' piece from the &SONS collection?
I really like the Hudson boots that I've been wearing, but of course, it's the the Weston jacket. As a photographer who is used to lugging heavy gear around locations, hiking through hills, hacking through terrain with big, heavy bags I need gear that will help me get there.
You can put all sorts of gear in the multitude of pockets, including big telephoto lenses, but once removed, it doesn't feel bulky. It doesn't feel like those like press photographer vests, you know, it's still something you could wear in the winter time.