Stephen returns time and time again to the same places in the North West of England. He has his favourite trees and likes to see how they change through the seasons. When he's somewhere new, he scopes out the landscape first and takes a mental note of spots he plans to return to.
If you're shooting seascapes, "you've got to research the tides," he urges. "I normally photograph an outgoing tide. If you photograph an incoming tide, you'll find your camera moves during the exposure, so your images won't be sharp. It's a lot firmer on an outgoing tide.
Stephen tends to shoot in the autumn, as it's better to have an overcast or even cloudy day to capture a long exposure of a sky, as you naturally let in more light to your camera. "I don't shoot in the middle of summer as I'd have to leave at 2am, so I usually start in September as dawn is about 6am. I research my locations, when the sun will come up, and where the light will be cast. If it's murky and partly cloudy, I know I've got something to work with," he explains. He starts by looking at a histogram on his camera to work out the available light and how much time he'll have.
There's a melancholic atmosphere to Stephen's photos which is partly due to the subject matter. He tends to focus on industrial landmarks or abandoned buildings – places now neglected that were once full of life. "I'm drawn to old buildings," he says. "When I was in Anglesey in Wales recently, I stumbled upon this old farmhouse (see right image above), and I thought, how long has this farm been in ruins? And why did they have to give up maintaining it? Where are the people who lived and worked there?"
These reminders of the past are also wonderfully suited to monochrome. "With black and white photography, the composition becomes the focus, it has to be strong," he adds.