Meet the photographer: Tim Cornbill

“I first became interested in photography as a teenager when I received my first film DSLR – I used it for my art work at school, where I experimented with processing techniques in the darkroom. I’ll always remember the great thrill of watching the photos develop in front of my eyes, and this is where I found a new appreciation of the limitations of 24 shots on a single roll of film.”

01 PICT2871 Abstract Long Expo Point and Shoot 2005

Handheld abstract using point and shoot, taken from a car with the full moon on the horizon, 2005.
Tim’s interest continued at university in Manchester where he moved into digital photography:”I used a small 5 mega pixel point and shoot camera to help complete coursework during my architecture degree. I also contributed my photographs of festivals, events and even protests to the student newspaper, which helped to broaden my repertoire. I then got involved with the photographic society, and it was there I won a competition with my long exposure of the moon rising behind a lighthouse in St Ives, Cornwall. The photo got exhibited and this gave me my first bit of recognition, spurring me on to get more involved in photography.

03 IMG_1713 St Ives UoM Photosoc Comp Winner

Long exposure of the moon rising behind Smeatons Pier in St Ives which won a competition run by University of Manchester Photosoc, 2008.
Following his degree, Tim returned to Birmingham: “I qualified as an architect in 2013 and lived in the city centre opposite a huge construction site which was to become The Cube. Watching the building grow, I captured the construction process and the development of the rest of the city around it. I walked the streets with my camera and captured everything that would take my eye. I’d look out for any interesting changes in light or weather, and use my base in the city as a means to get out quickly and capture it.”
04 IMG_8838 Cube Under Construction 2008
The Cube under construction in Birmingham, 2008.


02 IMG_0562 CABE Urban Beauty Shortlist 2007
Early morning mist on the canals of Birmingham which was shortlisted in the CABE ‘Urban Beauty’ competition, 2007.
“In 2012, I started to explore the historic architecture of the city with my ‘Birmingham Retrospective’ project, comparing the lost buildings of the city with their modern counterparts. The project went on for a number of years and I have since had to revisit certain locations again, such is the pace at which the city is being developed! In recent years, my passion has been reinforced by social media, which I’ve used to share my images. In 2015, I became a ‘suggested user’ on Instagram, and it was around that time my photography gained a wider following and grew in popularity.”
05 IMG_8227 Retrospective
Birmingham Retrospective – original photograph taken in 1950s, compared with contemporary position, 2012.


06 IMG_2072 Brumset
Sunset over the Birmingham skyline, 2017
In 2017, Tim’s photography gained international acclaim: “My photography was recognised on a global scale, by winning the 2017 Sony World Photography Award for Architecture, for my photo of Marie-Elisabeth Luders Haus in Berlin, titled ‘Oculus’. The photograph was exhibited in London, Paris and Berlin, and it was also commended in the travel category of the 2017 Outdoor Photographer of the Year awards. The photograph, a chance photo of a cyclist and couple walking in front of a large concrete circle, has been shared worldwide and it gave me the platform to showcase my work on an international scale.”


07 DSCF1077 Oculus

“Oculus”. 2017 winner of the Sony World Photography Award for Architecture

08 IMG_5374 Belly Button
“Belly Button”. Shot of lunar crater Copernicus, shortlisted in Astrophotographer of the Year 2017
“For the past 18 months I have been working on a book about Urban Photography. The book covers all aspects of photographing the urban environment, including architecture, street photography and cityscapes, as well as looking at the best equipment to use and editing techniques. It should be a useful book for anyone interested in photography, and it features around 130 of my urban photographs from all over the world. I’m currently continuing to share my work via social media, shooting urban scenes, architecture, but also widening my horizons with landscapes, wildlife and delving into the technical world of astrophotography.”
See more of Tim’s work on instagram and his website, where you can also order a copy of his book.


All images by Tim Cornbill.

This article first appeared in the Birmingham Photography Festival IN FOCUS newsletter as the “Meet the photographer” feature, which highlights photographers based in the West Midlands.

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