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Each month, we’ll showcase a Northern Ireland-based landscape photographer and go behind the scenes to find out what makes their photography click. Christine McIlroy of Christine Jennifer Photography is first up!
My name is Christine. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and a supporter of Liverpool FC. I also play for my local club, Dromara Village Ladies. I’ve trained and worked as a secondary school R.E. teacher, and came to love photography through photographing nature. I love spending time with family and friends, but am just as comfortable drinking a cup of tea and reading a novel (my latest one is Game of Thrones), or playing video games.
I grew up in a little village called Lisbellaw – it’s just outside Enniskillen in County Fermanagh. Despite being pretty far (in Northern Irish terms) from everywhere else, I loved growing up around the lakes. While I desire the sanctuary of the mountains, I crave the stillness of the lakes. I wish I had taken more time to enjoy them before I moved away from home.
Growing up, I was always the designated family photographer. Experiencing events behind a camera was grating as a teenager and young adult but now, I find that I crave viewing and capture social events behind a camera more and more. When I was teaching full-time, there was little time for anything else. Once I had the opportunity, I decided to do a part-time night course in photography. It was through this that I learned from other enthusiasts, and it opened the door to wedding photography. I haven’t looked back since.
Photographing weddings is my main passion. I love being part of one of the most important days in a person’s life, and capturing all the emotions that go along with it. But it was landscape photography carved my path into this profession, and I love the exhilaration that comes with chasing the perfect shot; the ecstasy when you get it and the disappointment when it doesn’t quite work out. In recent months, I have spent most of my time in the Mournes – this year I’m selling a calendar based entirely in that mountain range.
I feel every photographer has a style, and I would be remiss to say that my work isn’t influenced by others. Having followed a number of photographers based in Northern Ireland (Hibernia Landscapes, Steven Hanna and Alistair Hamill to name a few), I will usually want to visit a place after seeing an image they have put up.
My name DSLR was a Nikon D3200; while it was only a starter camera, I shot one of my favourite images of my hometown using it. Now, I use two Canon 5D Mark III’s along with a host of lenses. My go-to is my 24-70mm f4 which is very rarely out of my camera bag!
I keep my editing really simple. I like an image to be as close to the RAW file as possible. I recommend Lightroom because it’s easy to use and allows me to get the most out of my images.
I’m photographing the last of my weddings of 2018 in the next few weeks. I’m particularly excited for one of my autumn weddings that is having its ceremony in the QFT!
I have been trying to marry my portrait and landscape photography by visiting some beautiful places in Northern Ireland at sunset/sunrise with some awesome couples. In the next few weeks, I’ll be heading to Cavehill, the Mournes, and some wind-farms in Fermanagh at sunset to capture some beautiful couples.
I’ll also be doing my Man’s Best Friend dog mini-shoots, just in time for Christmas. I really love the variety that comes with being a photographer – it’ll be a busy few weeks.
I love exploring different parts of the mountain range, be it the central, western or High Mournes. I find that I am constantly compelled and amazed by the beauty of the mountains. More and more I crave being up in the mountains, where CS Lewis was inspired to write Narnia and countless others have been inspired to do other things.
Be prepared for any weather conditions. Having been atop Bearnagh for five minutes before being engulfed in a rainstorm, I have learned to expect the unexpected. You should as well!
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