What Makes An Artist?

How do we know when a person is an artist? What makes them an artist?

I posed this question in a recent episode of the Shot @ an Angle show, and the replies I got from the viewers were quite informative, and they didn’t all agree with each other. To some it was the idea of being creative, that if you’re creative, you are an artist.

Where does inspiration come from? Should you wait for it to come to you? Inspiration can come in many forms, but it can be forced. If we were all to wait for inspiration to hit us we’d be waiting for a long time. What if it never comes? Inspiration comes from action, taking a decisive step, taking action. The mere act of placing one foot in front of another leads you to go for a walk, and on that walk your surroundings will alter and inspiration often follows.

I didn’t wait for inspiration to hit me to write this, I sat down with my laptop, with a mug of tea to hand, and started writing. The very act of me doing this sparked the memory of the live show I did, and I started to put those thoughts down in writing.

What makes an artist? Are they more creative then eveyone else? Do they have more inspiration than everyone else? Or do they just act on what they enjoy doing.

I’m a photographer, a musician, a writer, a speaker, a facilitator, a podcast host. Does that make me an artist? What do you do? Do you see yourself as an artist?

The only person who can really define whether you are an artist is yourself, nobody else. Everyone has opinions, everone will have their own point of view, but the one that truly counts is yours.

So today, take the step and call yourself whatever you want to be. Call yourself an artist, and see how it sits with you, how it makes you feel. 

Just Keep Moving …

Being on the move helps you think differently, it gives you a fresh perspective, free from the usual distractions and habits of your regular haunts.

You see the world from a new perspective, you meet new people, new ideas formulate.

To be on the move can often be as simple as …

Going for a walk around your house

Going for a walk around the block, through your local park

Getting a day pass on the local buses, or train.

Recently I got myself a day rail pass which allowed me unlimited travel on the trains in a certain area.

All I did was catch trains, and while moving, I worked.

I got three blog posts (including this one) written.

  • Two important emails written.
  • Two newsletters drafted.
  • A new workshop started.
  • The rest of my week organized.

I also had.

Two chats with interesting strangers.

Being on the move helps you think differently, it gives you a fresh perspective, free from the usual distractions and habits of your regular haunts.

What Do You Like to Photograph?

What do you like to photograph?

What do you want to photograph?

Is the answer to these two questions completely different?

Are you really taking your photography in the direction you want it to go? Or are you following a trend?

Would you like to create your own style? A photographic style that is truly yours, and yours alone?

One step you can take is to capture what you want to capture.

Practice makes perfect, and you’ve got to enjoy what you’re practicing right?

Well not always, it depends on your reasoning, and why you’re doing it?

Why all these questions? Well, they are to get you thinking, to take a positive step towards creating your own style.

The World Through Your Window

What would I see, if I were to see the world through your window?

Who would would I meet? What would it feel like?

Would I see the countryside? Would I see the city?

Would it be light? Would it be dark?

Would it be colourful? Would everything be in black & white?

Your photography is that window, your view of the world.

Begin to see it as such, and think of it as a story of your life. A way of sharing a part of your life, with the world.

Imagine it right now.

Visualize you taking the best photograph you have ever taken, safe in the knowledge that you will improve on it.

That when it comes to art there is no such animal as perfection, there is only opinion.

So, what does the world look like through your window?

My top 3 cities in Europe for photography: Where to go and when.

I’ve travelled a fair amount in my life. In the last ten years or so, that has mostly been around Europe. With that in mind, here are my top 3 cities in Europe.

Hamburg – Early December.

It has a brutal style of architecture, mainly due to its industrial past, the proximity to the sea and it being a port city. Perfect for anyone interested in their lines and perspectives.

The perfect time to go there is in early December. just as the Christmas markets are opening. Make your way to the Altonaer Fischauktionshalle on a Sunday morning, or to Miniatur Wunderland in the old warehouse district.

There is so much to see and photograph in this grand city.

Rome – Spring

An obvious one really. Known as the eternal city, there really is a photo at every turn. The people, the history, the life of the city. The real challenge is to find a hidden corner, which nobody else has found.

Check out grandeur of The Baths of Caracalla, or my favourite The Trevi Fountain, but make sure you arrive there early!

I pick Spring as the weather is generally good, the days are getting longer, and the streets are quieter than that of the height of summer.

Budapest – May

The city of two sides, separated by the second-longest river in Europe, the Danube. With Buda sat in the hills with its grand castle, while Pest is much flatter, allowing for wide-open streets.

While you’re there, check out the Hűvösvölgy, Children’s Railway, a railway almost entirely ran by scouts, or grab yourself a 24-hour Budapest-travelcard that allows you unlimited travel around the city, including the many boats that traverse the river.

I’ve chosen May as it is the start of the summer. It’s pleasantly warm, which allows you to get out and soak in the atmosphere, and capture what you see.

Do you have a favourite city to visit? If so, where, and when is the best time to visit there?

Sparking your creativity

Do you often find yourself asking the question, how can you spark your creativity into life again?

As a visual artist, workshop facilitator, podcast host. I need to be creative in what I do.

Even those people we admire as being what is termed a creative genius, have spells both long and short of not feeling creative.

What I’m going to share with you here are a few techniques that help me find that creative spark again, to create a thing we’re proud of, to bring something new into the world.

  1. Movement – Staying put in one place too long, rarely helps creativity. You end up with the same thought patterns, familiarity breeds familiarity. Introducing movement, be it a walk in the garden,  a stroll to the shops, or just a lap of your office helps break those cycles of thought.
  2. Resolve or stubbornness – When I don’t feel creative when I’m having a day when I can’t see the next shot, the next blog post, the next newsletter, the next podcast question, I push myself out there. I create just for the sake of it. Not everything you’re going to make will be good, in fact only around 6% of ideas become a commercial success. Build your resolve and be stubborn with yourself.
  3. Cut out distractions – Find a place, or places, that are distraction-free. No phone, no internet, just be. Set yourself a time, ten minutes, half an hour, whatever you feel you can spare. Take a pen and paper and write out the issue you’re trying to resolve, or the idea you have in your head. Focus solely on that one task.

Do you have a particular way to spark your creativity? I’d love to hear it. Why not comment below, or email at info@shotatanangle.co.uk


A walk through the place I live …

A walk from where I live to the center of the city takes around 35 to 40 minutes. This all depends on much of a rush I’m in.

If I’m really pressed for time I cycle, if I’m really, really pressed for time and/or lazy I grab the bus. It’s through walking though that really opens my eyes to the world between my home and the center of the city.

So that’s what I’m going to talk about I this post, that walk.

The journey starts in a quiet side street that ends at at a large recreation park full of dog walkers and fitness fanatics.

Once you reach the other end of the street you’re greeted with what is usually a very busy road.

This particular thoroughfare take traffic from the city center out to the ring road, where it emerges by a large car factory that makes mini cars.

Heading towards town the road is initially lined with mostly suburban semi detached houses, with the occasional shops and places of business as well.

After about 15 minutes of walking you pass an old cinema on your left, that then became a bingo hall, which then became a nightclub and is now a place of worship. It is here that first marks the first big change in surroundings.


There are less houses here. More cafes, shops, restaurants and other places of business. You’ll be hard pressed to miss both the church on the left and the mosque on the right. It is also this stretch of road which plays host to a yearly street carnival.

Not much changes for another 20 minutes or so, the diversity of businesses along here is quite astounding when you consider how most High Streets are currently faring. You can quite literally find every kind of shop, and every kind of cuisine. It’s here that you’ll find the only record shop in the entire city as well.

The landscape around you once again makes a big change once you arrive at the end of this particular road. Ending at a very green and leafy roundabout, that was one a cemetery.

After a short walk across a wide bridge, the first big sign that the world around you has changed is the tall, rectangular and often noisy tower on the right hand side.


Once you past this tower you’ll head up the Main Street where you’re greeted with even more ancient ancient buildings. All kinds of towers and structures penetrate the skyline. Square buildings, triangular spires and round reading rooms.

Keep going for a few more minutes and you’ll eventually arrive at a crossroads. Not a metaphorical one, a literal meeting of four roads. X marks the spot, the center of the city.

This too has its very own tower. One that used to have its very own church.


A more different place you couldn’t get from the place we began.

What is a walk through the place you live like? I’d love to hear about it, why not drop me a line.

William is a professional photographer, a podcast host and workshop facilitator. You can sign up to his newsletter by following this link.




Music to Walk Home By (and photograph as you go …)

Having all your senses open at once can be a daunting experience. It can leave you feeling overwhelmed, not knowing what to concentrate on.

During a workshop I recently ran, I extolled the virtues of how opening your senses contributes to creating better imagery. Being aware of what is around you at all times in my opinion is a useful skill to have as a photographer. It can equally be an overwhelming experience.

How can you minimise that overwhelm?

180913--©William Mankelow-3

One trick I use when out on a photo shoot is to listen to music.

Pick your favourite track/artist/album and get out there and allow the music to lead you. It helps detach you from the any noise distraction around you and helps you focus on your sight, being able to spot any unusual movement in your peripheral vision, spot colours, and diminish one of your senses.

So why not give it a try for ten minutes, find your favourite track, out your headphones and and see where it takes you.

[warning! always, always be careful when you’re walking around with headphones on. Be aware of what is around you at all times, especially if you’re near a road, railway or any water!]






Get out with your camera!

Need an excuse to get out with your camera? What better one is there when the weather is good? There is something about a nice, calm, clear morning that inspires not only photography but sets you up nicely for a good day ahead.

180913--©William Mankelow-3

Even a clear morning might not be enough to get you out, so be prepared. Check the weather forecast, get your camera ready with a full battery and empty memory card, leave it in a place where it is easy to pick up on your way out.

Make it simple and easy so that all you need to do is get up, grab your camera and get out. This can just be for a short walk around your local area, or you can grab a bus into the city centre. You can head to a familiar area, somewhere you know inside out.

170710-Oxford-© William Mankelow

Once you are out, don’t feel you need to start taking shots as soon as you leave home. Give yourself a few minutes, you can even time this if you like. Use this time to bring yourself into the now.

Forget the past, forget what the day, week, month ahead. Be in the moment and begin to see the world around you. Then, start shooting.

The next step is then to share it was us with our growing Facebook community, we’d like to see what you capture.

If you’re after inspiration have a look at this blog, What happens when I pick up my camera.

Like what you’ve read in this post, then I invite you to sign up to my email newsletter as well, where I share with you more news, stories and offers. You can sign up by clicking the following link email newsletter signup link


What I’ve learnt trying to sell my artwork at a market stall

Running a stall to sell your artwork, which in my case is photography, can feel like a daunting challenge. You can feel to begin with well out of your comfort zone, and if you’ve never done one before it might even feel too big for you.

Well this is where I was a couple of years ago, however being one that enjoys pushing myself into situations that make me face my fears (I do this every time I fly for example) I approached a local market here in Oxford to have a stall.

171028--© William Mankelow-2

Now at that point I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to sell, I had a decent idea that it would be prints, greetings cards. The clearest I could be about what I hoped to achieve from the exercise was to.

  1. Sell my photography as a physical product. I love the idea of my photography being on someone’s living room wall, or as a colouful centre piece in the lobby of a hotel, or wherever it might end up.
  2. To meet people face to face, to engage with anybody interested in my photography or the medium in general.

What I’ve found out since my first stall has taken me by surprise. Firstly is how honest people can be about what they see. I’ve had some interesting conversations, sparked purely from seeing one of my photos.

Also it’s been fascinating to listen to those who have purchased a print from me and why they’ve picked what they have. One in particular sticks out in my memory where a lady walked up to the stall after previously browsing. She purchased 4 greetings cards with the words “I have a great idea for these cards”, intriguing right? I wonder what that idea was?

But it isn’t just about selling for me, as I stated it is just to meet people face to face, listen to their story and their opinion.

So what have I learnt from holding a stall? Be bold, be creative and if you have a creation you’d like to share with the world, go for it.

Let me know if this has inspired you, I’d also like to hear from you if you’ve also ran a stall and what your experience has been like.